Energy policy in Vermont
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|Energy policy in Vermont|
|Energy Department||Vermont Public Service Department|
|State Population||0.6 million|
|Per Capita Income||$42,994|
|Total Energy Consumption||149 trillion BTU |
|Per Capita Energy Consumption||238 million BTU|
|Total Energy Spending||$3.151 million|
|Per Capita Energy Spending||$5,029|
|Price of Residential Natural Gas||$15.17 per thousand cubic foot|
|Price of Electricity||17.54 cents per kWh|
|Energy on the ballot|
Statewide fracking on the ballot
Local fracking on the ballot
|Energy Policy Project|
|Energy policy in the United States|
Energy use in the United States
Energy terms and definitions
Energy policy in Vermont
Fracking in Vermont
- 1 Energy overview
- 2 Energy policy
- 3 In the news
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
How energy is produced and consumed also has an impact on the environment and pollution. Energy policy in Vermont aggressively focuses on decreasing emissions and dependence on fossil fuels by increasing energy efficiency and promoting the use of renewable energy. As the infrastructure for producing and delivering renewable energy sources is not as advanced as it is for energy generation from traditional sources, these policies often require subsidies to make the produced energy affordable, and their effects are difficult to measure.
Energy policy involves tradeoffs between providing an affordable, consistent energy supply on the one hand, and limiting pollution and protecting the environment, on the other. How states attempt to balance these two differs between states, and often boils down to costs to consumers versus costs to the environment. This article provides general energy information about the state as the context within which energy policy is made, as well as information about major legislation and public and private groups that play a role in setting energy policy in the state.
Below are quick facts about Vermont's energy climate.
- has vast forested areas that provide renewable energy sources.
- has no petroleum refineries or petroleum production facilities.
- has no natural gas production or mining facilities.
- has no coal reserves and no coal-fired power plants.
- gets a higher amount of its net electricity from nuclear power than any other state.
- is a net importer of electricity.
- has a per capita residential electricity consumption that is in the lower third nationally.
- consumes the least amount of energy in the nation, in part due to its small population.
- is the only state in the New England area without a renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
- three-quarters of the energy consumed in Vermont is petroleum-based.
- hydropower makes up a significant portion of the electricity generated.
- almost one-fourth of all energy consumed in Vermont comes from renewable resources.
- 47.7 percent of homes use fuel oil as their source of heat, which is part of the reason most of the energy consumed in Vermont is from petroleum.
- over a third of the total energy consumed in the state is consumed by the transportation sector.
Available energy resources
Vermont has no demonstrated traditional energy resources such as oil, coal or natural gas. The state mainly consumes petroleum-based energy, but, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), "it neither produces nor refines petroleum." The lack of resources in Vermont explains why it imports most of its energy.
Three-fourths of Vermont is forested, and the forests provide ample renewable wood products for electricity and heating. The state uses traditional wood products and biomass generation. Almost one-fourth of all energy consumed in Vermont comes from renewable sources. The state has policies in place to encourage the use of renewable energy for both heating and electricity. Almost half of all electricity consumed comes from renewable sources, most from Canadian and New York hydroelectric generators. Vermont also has about a dozen of its own hydroelectric dams which produce about one-tenth of state consumption.
Consumption and prices
|Energy consumption in Vermont|
Transportation Residential Industrial Commercial
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A third of the total energy consumption in Vermont is consumed by the transportation sector, mainly in some form of petroleum. The next largest sector is residential, with a little over 30 percent of net energy consumed by residents of Vermont. Even though a lot of energy is consumed by residents, Vermont ranks 41st in per capita consumption, meaning that consumption in Vermont is well below the national average. The sector consuming the least amount of energy in Vermont is the industrial sector, with about 16 percent of total consumption. This can be explained by the fact that the major industries in Vermont are not energy intensive. Vermont's gas price generally tracks the national average, but it is usually slightly more expensive. The higher price may be explained by Vermont's lack of any petroleum producing facilities. Because the state has to import petroleum, this may contribute to the higher price. According to the EIA's February 2014 report, the federal excise tax is 18.40 cents/gallon of gasoline and 24.40 cents/gallon of diesel fuel. In addition to that, Massachusetts collects a total tax of 26.7 cents on every gallon of gasoline, gasohol diesel fuel, which ranks it at the 23rd highest in the United States.
The table below compares Vermont's consumption and spending for energy, as well as prices for gas and electricity, and carbon emissions to those of New Hampshire, which has similar population, resources and consumption needs because of climate and geography. Also given are the U.S. averages and the state rankings. All rankings are from highest to lowest, so, for example:
- Vermont's rank of 50th in carbon emissions means that it emits less carbon than does New Hampshire with a rank of 45th.
- Likewise, per capita income in New Hampshire is higher than the national average, and much higher than in Vermont, which at 22nd ranks 12 places behind Vermont's ranking of 10th in per capita income.
- Per capita spending in Vermont is somewhat similar to New Hampshire, Vermont is 17th in the nation, compared to New Hampshire's rank of 25th. This disparity may be due to Vermont's smaller population and the higher price of electricity and natural gas in Vermont.
- Vermont ranks fourth in the nation for the price of natural gas, meaning that only three states have higher prices.
- On the other hand, New Hampshire has similar rankings for prices to those in Vermont, ranking seventh for electricity prices and seventh for the price of natural gas, but it also has a larger population. These higher prices may be due to the source of production in the states, as neither state employs cheap sources of energy like coal.
- These two states are very similarly ranked on population, overall consumption and overall spending.
- Per capita energy consumption in Vermont (at 41st) is greater than in New Hampshire (at 43rd), but they are very similar.
- New Hampshire consumes slightly less than Vermont, with a rank of 46th compared to Vermont's ranking of 51st.
- Natural gas prices are slightly lower in New Hampshire than in Vermont.
- Carbon emissions are very lower in both states, ranking in the bottom five of the nation.
|Consumption and Expenditures Comparisons Summary|
|Type||Vermont||New Hampshire||U.S. Figures|
|Figure||U.S. Rank*||Figure||U.S. Rank*||Totals|
|Population||0.6 million||50||1.3 million||42||313.9 million|
|Per Capita Income Average||$42,994||22||$47,058||10||$42,693|
|Total Consumption||149 trillion BTU||51||292 trillion BTU||46||97,301 quadrillion BTU|
|Per Capita Energy Consumption||238 million BTU||41||222 million BTU||43||312 million BTU|
|Total Spending on Energy||$3.151 million||50||$5.965 million||44||$1,394,088 million|
|Per Capita Spending on Energy||$5,029||17||$4,526||25||$4,474|
|Price of Residential Natural Gas, dollar per thousand cubic feet||$15.10||4||$14.25||7||$12.48|
|Price of Electricity, cents per kWh||17.54||5||16.43||7||12.31|
|Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions, million metric tons (2010)||6||50||17||45||5,631|
|*Rank is from highest to lowest.|
Nearly half of Vermont residents employ fuel oil, derived from petroleum to heat their homes. Only four percent of Vermont's residents use electricity to heat their homes. Both natural gas and liquified petroleum gases (LPG) make up about 15 percent of the consumption of energy for home heating.
- See also: State Energy Rankings to compare all 50 states
|Consumption of energy for heating homes in Vermont|
|Source||Vermont 2011||U.S. average 2011|
|Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG)||15.4%||5%|
Production and transmission
Vermont produces energy in the form of nuclear power (62.84 percent) and what the U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies as 'other,' (37.29 percent) which is "assumed to equal consumption of all renewable energies except biofuels." Because the state does not produce natural gas it has to import its supply from Canada and New York. The majority comes from a small pipeline from Canada. The crude oil that Vermont depends on comes from Maine, Canada and North Dakota. Some of the pipelines have been constrained because of ecological concerns about environmentally sensitive areas.
|Energy production by type in Vermont, 2011|
|% of State||% of USA|
Vermont has only one natural gas distribution company, Vermont Gas Systems (VGS). The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB), regulates VGS. Vermont has three types of electric utilities: investor-owned, municipal and member-owned rural electric cooperatives. There are seventeen utilities in total, one investor owned, 14 municipal and two cooperatives. The companies are technically regulated monopolies and operate under a Certificate of Public Good (CPG), which means the rates the companies charge are subject to review by the Public Service Department. The transmission system in Vermont is of special importance because about half of the energy consumed is imported. The Vermont transmission system consists of 534 miles of power lines and 25 substations. The entire transmission system is operated by the Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO). VELCO is a member of the Vermont Energy Partnership, which is also responsible for building and maintaining the system statewide.
|Where electricity comes from in Vermont|
|Type||Amount generated (MWh)||% of state**||% of U.S.**|
|Total net electricity generation||615,000||100%||0.01%|
|**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.|
- See also: Fracking in Vermont
Energy policy is made, executed and influenced by many organizations, both public and private, and is codified in the laws and regulations of the state. Each state’s energy policy involves tradeoffs in which energy production and prices are weighed against environmental concerns and efficiency. Energy policy in Vermont is driven by efficiency, probably because the prices for electricity and natural gas are among the top 10 highest in the nation. Vermont has an atypical renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The standard is a non-binding goal of 20 percent by 2017, which it has already met, but if it slips before 2017 legislation already in place will kick-in and create a binding Renewable Energy Portfolio standard. This program, Vermont's Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED), was enacted in 2005. Utilities can meet the goal by providing energy produced from renewable technologies such as, solar, landfill gas, wind and hydroelectric. Companies can also meet the requirement by implementing more efficient systems. A report required by the legislation that created SPEED evaluated the possibility of requiring an RPS standard. The report concluded that a requirement of 75 percent renewables by 2034 was reasonable. A 2011 report by Vermont's Public Service Department encourages the residents of Vermont to work towards a 90 percent renewable energy goal by 2050.
In energy efficiency, Vermont ranks seventh in the nation according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) 2013 rankings. This is a two position drop for Vermont since 2012, but only a one point loss in the scoring system.
- House Bill 446, (2009) imposes a feed-in tariff requiring utilities to purchase renewable energy generated out of state at a higher price. Feed-in tariffs are policy mechanisms designed to accelerate investment in renewable energies. The bill is part of the RPS requirements in Vermont. The Institute for Energy Research attributes higher prices for energy in Vermont to tariffs like this.
- Vermont's Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) Program was created by legislation in 2005. The program itself does not establish a renewable portfolio standard or goal, but if the Vermont Public Service Board determines that the established minimum obligations of the SPEED program are not met, then the state's utilities will be required to meet a binding RPS goal. The SPEED program encourages utilities to sell renewable energy sources to consumers.
- 24 V.S.A. Chapter 87, Section 3261 et seq. creates Vermont's Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The program allows individuals to borrow money from the local government in order to finance energy improvements to their property. The PACE legislation covers such things as installing solar panels and small hydroelectric projects. PACE legislation must be enacted by local governments in order for those interested in receiving the rebate to qualify.
Government agencies and committees
- The Vermont State Legislature has two committees on energy. The Vermont State Senate committee is the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and the Vermont House of Representatives committee is the Natural Resources and Energy Committee. The committees are in charge of supervising any legislation that deals with energy.
- The Natural Resources Conservation Service of Vermont, under the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture, works with agricultural producers and landowners to improve agricultural energy conservation and efficiency.
- The Vermont Public Service Department (PSD) of Vermont works to advance quality of life, economy and security for Vermont residents by using sound statewide energy goals. The PSD is also charged with representing the public interests in energy, telecommunications, water and wastewater utility matters.
- The Vermont System Planning Committee (VSPC) works to improve the utilities in Vermont and make sure new developments are cost-effective. The committee focuses on the long-term, and encourages public involvement by educating the public and providing a transparent process for all aspects of the VSPC's activities. The VSPC is made up of representatives of each electric distribution and transmission utility in the state, three public member representing the interests of residential consumers, commercial and industrial consumers and environmental protection respectively. There are also three non-voting members that participate in the VSPC, including Vermont's Energy Efficiency Utility, the Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development Facilitator and the Vermont Department of Public Service.
- The Vermont Public Power Supply Authority (VPPSA) is a private authority of the state of Vermont empowered under 30 VSA, Chapter 84 with the power to buy and sell power within and outside Vermont. VPPSA provides wholesale power supply to municipals and cooperatives in and outside of Vermont, as well as a many other services including tax free financing of certain capital projects.
- The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) mission is to preserve, restore and conserve Vermont's natural resources and protect the health of Vermont residents. The DEC regulates waste and works with companies to reduce pollution.
- The Agency of Natural Resources is responsible for protecting Vermont's environment, natural resources and wildlife and maintaining the state's forests and parks. The agency is managed by the Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources. The agency regulates air and water quality, state lands, and state dams.
- The Vermont Energy Partnership hopes to keep Vermont a great place to live and work. The organization collaboratively advocates for sensible solutions that ensure Vermont has reliable, affordable and clean energy. They educate the public by doing research and holding public forums.
- Efficiency Vermont strives to lower energy costs and increase the strength of the local economy, all while protecting the environment by making businesses and homes more energy efficient.
- Renewable Energy Vermont is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, trade association that represents about 300 businesses, individuals and colleges committed to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels as well as increasing the availability of renewable energy options.
- The Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont is a group dedicated to analyzing existing and possible locations for renewable energy projects. The group was designed to help town energy committees, policymakers, businesses and Vermont citizens further their knowledge of environmental issues. The organization provides research and makes recommendations about areas with potential for development of renewable energies.
- The Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) works to energize Vermont communities in order to provide grassroots support for policies that will reduce energy costs and the human impact on the climate. VECAN serves as an information conduit for the public, connecting towns to resources and tools they would not otherwise have access to, and providing direct technical assistance and education.
In the news
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Vermont+Energy+Policy"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Institute for Energy Research
- State of Vermont Public Service Department
- Vermont Energy Partnership
- U.S. Energy Information Administration
- Public Service Department, "Energy Efficiency," accessed March 14, 2014
- These figures come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration State Profiles and Energy Estimates, Vermont Overview. Statistics for population and per capita income are for the year 2012; consumption and spending estimates are for 2011; and prices are for November 2013.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Vermont Overview," accessed February 5, 2014
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Vermont Overview," accessed February 28, 2014
- This chart depicts the state's energy consumption as reported by the EIA for 2011. Click the image to enlarge.
- "GasBuddy.com", "Vermont," accessed February 28, 2014
- [To compare current gasoline prices in Vermont to the U.S averages, go to http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx?city1=USA%20Average&city2=Vermont&city3=&crude=n&tme=60&units=us GasBuddy.com]
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Petroleum Marketing Monthly," February 2014, accessed February 14, 2014
- [The ranking comes from the Tax Foundation website http://taxfoundation.org/article/state-gasoline-tax-rates-2009-2013 accessed February 14, 2014]
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "New Hampshire Overview," accessed February 28, 2014
- Public Service Department, "Natural Gas and Propane," accessed February 28, 2014
- Public Service Department, "Electric," accessed February 28, 2014
- Vermont Energy Partnership, "Vermont's Electric Transmission System: What You Need to Know," November 9, 2006, accessed February 28, 2014
- These figures come from the EIA State Profiles and Energy Estimates U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Vermont Overview," accessed February 5, 2014
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, "Vermont: Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) Goals," May 20, 2013, accessed February 28, 2014
- Vermont Government, "Study on Renewable Electricity Requirements Prepared by the Vermont Public Service Board," October 3, 2011, accessed February 28, 2014
- Public Service Department, "Comprehensive Energy Plan," accessed February 28, 2014
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, "2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard," November 2013, accessed February 28, 2014
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory, "A Policymaker's Guide to Feed-in Tariff Policy Design," July 2010, accessed March 14, 2014
- Institute for Energy Research, "Vermont," accessed February 28, 2004
- "Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency", "Vermont: Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) Goals," updated May 20, 2013, accessed February 28, 2014
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, "Local Option - Property Assessed Clean Energy," May 20, 2013, accessed February 28, 2014
- Vermont Legislature, "Title 24: Municipal and County Government," accessed March 14, 2014
- Vermont Legislature, "Legislative Directory: 2013 - 2014 Legislative Session," accessed March 17, 2014
- Vermont Legislature, "Legislative Directory: 2013 - 2014 Legislative Session," accessed March 17, 2014
- "Natural Resources Conservation Service Vermont", "Energy," accessed February 28, 2014
- Public Service Department State of Vermont, "Welcome!," accessed February 28, 2014
- Vermont System Planning Committee, "About the Vermont System Planning Committee," accessed March 14, 2014
- Vermont System Planning Committee, "Default," accessed March 14, 2014
- Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, "About Us," accessed February 28, 2014
- Department of Environmental Conservation, "Welcome to the DEC," accessed February 28, 2014
- Anr.state.VT.us, "Secretary Markowitz's biography," accessed November 28, 2011
- Vermont Energy Partnership, "About Us," accessed February 28, 2014
- Efficiency Vermont, "About Efficiency Vermont," accessed February 28, 2014
- Renewable Energy Vermont, "About Us," accessed February 28, 2014
- Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont, "About Us," accessed February 28, 2014
- Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network, "About VECAN," accessed February 28, 2014
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