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United States

Vermont's cautious renewables mandate

Vermont has joined the list of US states that have enacted a renewable energy goal -- albeit with a twist -- when governor Jim Douglas signed legislation in June requiring the state's utilities to meet any new load growth in the next seven years using renewable energy resources or through energy efficiency measures. If load growth in Vermont is 5%, for instance, utilities must obtain 5% of their supply from renewables. The requirement is capped at 10% of a utility's 2005 total retail electric sales. Renewable energy projects placed into service after December 31, 2004, count toward the goal, as does additional energy from existing renewable energy facilities retrofitted with advanced technologies, or otherwise modified or expanded to increase their output. The law also requires utilities to take power from any new renewable energy facility in the state, but not above the market price. If utilities are not meeting the goal by 2013, a renewables portfolio standard (RPS) will take effect, allowing utilities to meet the goal through purchases of renewable energy credits (RECs), as well as constructing or contracting for renewable energy resources. Utilities failing to meet their renewables purchase requirement may pay into a fund an amount per kilowatt-hour to be determined by the public service board to support renewables and energy conservation. Eligible renwables sources for meeting the load growth requirement include small hydro up to 200 MW, methane from landfill gas, anaerobic digesters, and sewage-treatment facilities. Large hydro and municipal solid waste are excluded.

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