Vermont just passed a 100% renewable electricity mandate

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Vermont today passed a bill that requires 100% renewable electricity across all the state’s utilities by 2035, and it’s expected to become law.

H.289, “An act relating to the Renewable Energy Standard,” was passed in both the State House and Senate today with veto-proof majorities. If Governor Phil Scott (R-VT) vetoes it, then it is expected to be overturned when the state legislature reconvenes in June for its veto override session. The bill has broad support from utilities and renewable developers.

Vermont has one of the least carbon-intensive electricity sectors of any state, but because it’s part of the New England grid that’s powered mainly by natural gas, it’s still consuming fossil fuels.

Standout features of H.289 including doubling the amount of new renewables Vermont utilities are required to build in-state – particularly small and medium-sized renewables – from 10% to 20% of the electricity they deliver. In 2021, according to the US Energy Information Administration, Vermont consumed 3.4 times more energy than it produced, but its total energy consumption was less than in any other state.

It creates a new requirement for Vermont utilities to provide their customers with additional, new renewable energy of any size from anywhere in the region, and that could eventually include offshore wind. It requires an additional 20% by 2035 for Green Mountain Power, which serves around 80% of the state’s customers, and an additional 10% by 2035 for Vermont’s other utilities.

All Vermont utilities will also have to provide 100% renewable electricity to their customers. Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Coop have a deadline of 2030, and other utilities that aren’t already 100% renewable have a 2035 deadline. 

Vanessa Rule, co-director and lead organizer of 350VT, said [via Sierra Club], “Now we need to get to work meeting the new goals with a strong community solar program, well-sited projects that protect farmland and ecosystems, and ensure this electricity is affordable and available for everyone. We look forward to building on this important first step and thank the legislature for its hard work.”

Vermont is one of 25 states in the US Climate Alliance. The alliance has agreed to comply with the Paris Agreement, regardless of federal policy.


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