Public Service Department Releases Public Engagement Plan to Guide Review of Vermont’s Renewable Electricity Policy and Programs
On December 1, the Vermont Public Service Department (“Department”) released its proposed public engagement plan to guide a comprehensive review of Vermont’s renewable and clean electricity policies and programs. This engagement process will help implement a core recommendation of the Comprehensive Energy Plan, published in January of 2022, which calls for consideration of comprehensive adjustments to Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard as well as related renewable energy programs – including consideration of moving toward 100% renewable or carbon-free electricity.
“Our energy and climate plans call for electrification of heating and transportation” said Department Commissioner June Tierney. “Vermont must ensure the electric sector is increasingly low carbon, while keeping rates as low as possible so that all Vermonters can benefit from this transition. The time is ripe to conduct a comprehensive review of electricity policy to ensure that Vermont is meeting its energy and climate policy targets equitably and at least cost.”
The proposed plan has been informed by responses the Department received through the Request for Input (RFI) it issued earlier this year and envisions public engagement opportunities over the next 13 months split into three core phases:
Phase 1 – Awareness and Education (November 2022 – March 2023), will focus on broad outreach, especially to frontline & impacted communities, to raise awareness of this effort and create educational opportunities to build capacity to engage in future conversations. This will include educational webinars and other outreach with identified partners.
Phase 2 – Policy and Program Review (April – August 2023), will focus on reviewing existing programs and policies and developing recommendations for changes through continued stakeholder engagement and supporting technical analyses. Public engagement opportunities are expected to include venues like interactive workshops and surveys or polling.
Phase 3 – Recommendations and Reporting (September – December 2023), will focus on finalizing and drafting recommendations and producing summary reports on the process taken to arrive at those recommendations. Drafts of the documents would be reviewed and revised through public comment periods. The reports are expected to be finalized in advance of the 2024 Legislative Session.
The Public Engagement Plan is intended to be a proposal for how the review of renewable electricity programs and policies could occur based on feedback received during the RFI and available Department resources. By design, it leaves room for flexibility as new ideas about or needs for public engagement emerge throughout the process. The Department welcomes public opinion on this proposal. The Public Engagement Plan and supporting documents can be downloaded from the Public Service Department website at bit.ly/3uwTndl. Feedback can be submitted through an online public comment form accessible at bit.ly/3PctgBJ, or via email at PSD-REPrograms@vermont.gov. Feedback will be reviewed by Department staff as it is received on a rolling basis.