House committee approve renewable energy bill

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(Host) The House Commerce Committee recently approved a bill that promotes development of renewable energy. Mark Young from Orwell is the committee’s chairman. He says the bill would allow consumers to buy some of their power from renewable sources.

(Young) “As you realize, physics does not allow us to have green electronics to be flowing through your meter. So we have to set up a system of identifying green, renewable power which would be done through green tags, which could be bought, surrendered and traded and so forth. So although you might not have – and we can’t have – a green electron flowing into your house, the creation and retirement of green tags would assure you and other folks that that power was generated and did enter the grid as a result of your actions.”

(Host) Young says the green tag system is important because other states have moved in the same direction. He says this will help promote a regional market for renewable energy.

The bill also directs the Public Service Board to develop a rule to require that a certain percentage of the Vermont power mix comes from clean energy sources. Under the legislation, the board would design this so-called renewable portfolio standard. But the Legislature would have to approve it.

Young says the renewable standard must also consider the cost of energy.

(Young) “I think rightfully so people have been concerned that at a time that the economy’s not been very strong, at a time when we have such high electric rates, people are concerned that a mandatory RPS without regard to cost just can’t occur. We have to be very careful.”

(Host) Curt McCormack of the Vermont Public Research Group is convinced that some forms of renewable energy will be cheaper than conventional sources. He says that in the case of wind energy, the fuel is free.

(McCormack) “So if we invest in renewables, especially wind that will save us – that will lower rates or keep rates from going as high as they may have with alternatives. So that’s one of the ironies of it, that some people are concerned that renewables will cause rates to increase. The evidence is they will cause rates to decrease.”

(Host) The bill is now in the House Appropriations committee. The legislation would use $750,000 that the state collected from a oil industry overcharge case to promote development of renewable energy systems.

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