Recently the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) issued a report that showed state and local policy are key factors in the success of renewable energy and efficiency efforts. California has certainly shown that state legislation can be an effective means of motivation when it comes to moving a population away from the use of fossil fuels. Now, it appears Vermont is going to give that tactic a try.
Vermont governor Peter Shumlin used the celebratory commissioning of a 150 kilowatt solar project at an urban farm in South Burlington as a backdrop for a bill signing that put into effect a new piece of state legislation designed to expand renewable energy and efficiency projects in the state.
Some of the measures brought about by the new law will beef up the state’s Clean Energy Development fund and put the fund under the arms of the Department of Public Service. The idea behind that move seems to be aimed at allowing grants to be taken instead of tax credits in order to help fund efficiency and renewable energy projects. The law also encourages utility companies to put in efficient community street lighting and requires state services to instate an incentive for biomass heating systems.
It seems like a good, if modest start for Vermont, and Governor Shumlin seems to acknowledge that fact. In a statement, the governor noted that a much broader energy plan was in the works and that he expected it would spark more aggressive legislation in the coming legislative session. The governor stated that he hopes a similar bill signing celebration will be taking place next year for a much larger piece of renewable energy and efficiency legislation that will keep the state regionally competitive.