Douglas won’t support mandatory renewable energy bill

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he won’t support legislation that requires Vermont utilities to provide a certain portion of their overall energy from renewable sources by 2013. The legislation is scheduled to be debated on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. The bill caps the renewable mandate for a utility’s energy portfolio at 10 percent of its current retail sales level.

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Douglas says the state should encourage the development of renewable energy sources but he believes mandating this practice will lead to higher energy costs for consumers and businesses:

(Douglas) “An increase in our high electric rates would be the result of a mandatory renewable portfolio standard and we already have the highest electric rates in New England. We don’t want to make that any worse. It’s estimated that this legislation alone would increase our electric rates by 3.4 percent. Why would we want to do that if we don’t have to? And the fact that they’re already the highest in New England. So I think mandating them is not a good idea and I will oppose that.”

(Host) The governor is convinced that a voluntary approach can be very effective in increasing the state’s reliance on renewable energy sources:

(Douglas) “I think our utility companies want to do the right thing and as our Public Service Department continues its updates to the energy plan. As the Public Service Board makes decisions on rate cases the goal of greater renewables would certainly be taken into account.”

(Host) The legislation also establishes new energy conservation standards for many household appliances. Most of these new regulations wouldn’t go into effect until other states in the region have put similar standards into place.

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