Helping VT Reach Renewable Energy Goal Set for 2050
By Dee Gish, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission
In 2011 the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) established the ambitious goals of obtaining 90% of Vermont’s total energy from renewable sources by 2050 and 25% of all energy produced in-state by 2025. The CEP recognizes that achieving these goals will require communities to virtually eliminate Vermont’s reliance on fossil fuels through enhanced efficiency, conservation, and greater use of renewable energy sources for electricity, heating, and transportation. These goals will require a substantial change in how we approach energy use, transportation and land use. It will impact us on a state, regional and municipal level. As with any plan, the ultimate question is implementation. The CEP states what needs to be done and why, but does not provide specifics on how it will be implemented.
The Vermont Department of Public Service (PSD) has contracted with three regional planning commissions (Bennington Regional Planning Commission, Northwest Regional Planning Commission and Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission) in an effort to develop a framework for implementation. The PSD recognizes that the way each region will contribute to the implementation strategy will be different because regions have different geographic, socioeconomic and political constraints. The contract states that the Regional Energy Plans will “advance the State’s energy and climate goals while being consistent with local and regional needs and concerns, and will provide specificity to enable progress of each region toward those goals.”
To begin the Regional Energy Plans, the regional planning commissions and partner organizations (including the Energy Action Network and Vermont Energy Investment Corp.) have established baseline energy use across all sectors, have established regional goals for changes in energy use across all sectors, and have mapped potential renewable energy generation resources and constraints. The regional planning commissions will continue to meet with statewide partners and hold public meetings with municipalities and members of the public to select strategies and implementation programs that will focus on thermal efficiency and alternative heating systems; transportation system changes and land-use strategies; and conserve electricity and improve efficiency of delivery and end use. To complete the project, the participating RPCs will take all data, strategies and implementation recommendations, as well as renewable energy generation siting recommendations and use it to develop their Regional Energy Plans. The ultimate goal is to create a framework by which all Regional Plans will be updated to implement the CEP. Final versions of the Regional Energy Plans are due to the PSD in February 2017. Meeting announcements for the Regional Energy Plan public meetings in the TRORC region can be found at www.trorc.org.