Renewably energy bill ready to advance

“The more we power our vehicles, heat our homes and generate electricity using local resources, the more money we keep in state and it builds a stronger local economy.”
— Sen. Chris Bray
SALISBURY — Lawmakers and visitors at Monday’s legislative breakfast in Salisbury mulled over bill S.51, a proposal to steer Vermont toward its stated goal of satisfying 90 percent of its energy needs through renewable resources by the year 2050.
As previously reported in the Independent, S.51 would place the 90-percent goal in statute and would require that state energy plans be tailored to achieve 90-percent renewables by 2050. Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, is lead sponsor of the bill. He hopes the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee (which he chairs) will vote out S.51 by the end of next week as part of a miscellaneous energy bill.
“We have a comprehensive energy plan that is brought up every six years, but it is not actually binding on anyone to do anything, other than in electricity,” Bray said at Monday’s breakfast. “S.51 says, ‘Let’s make a commitment … In the Legislature, if you don’t put something down in black and white on a piece of paper and vote on it, you haven’t really made a commitment.”
Among other things, S.51 would require the Vermont Department of Public Service to produce an annual report detailing how the state is progressing in its 2050 renewables timeline. The annual reports would also require the DPS to establish green energy milestones that Vermont should strive for, along with recommendations on how the state could cost-effectively achieve those goals.
“It would give us an orderly, steady way to evaluate where we are and where we want to get to,” Bray said. “There’s a cliché — ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail.’ In this case, we have a very large, complex and innovative energy system, and if we are going to transform it, we can do it to our advantage, and we need to plan well in order to get there.”
More than 18,000 Vermonters currently make their living in the clean energy sector, according to Bray, who believes achieving the so-called “90 by 2050” goal would allow the state to add to its green energy jobs total.
“The more we power our vehicles, heat our homes and generate electricity using local resources, the more money we keep in state and it builds a stronger local economy,” Bray said.
Testimony thus far on S.51 has been interesting and varied, according to Bray. Some S.51 proponents have asserted the DPS needs to update its comprehensive energy plan each year — instead of in the current six-year intervals — in order to make real progress.
Others have voiced concern that the “90 by 2050” goal is too ambitious, Bray said.

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