By Dave Gram / The Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Two key state lawmakers said Tuesday that Vermont won't meet its goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2017, and they're withdrawing their support for setting a new goal of 30 percent renewable power by 2025.
The two Democrats said they were surprised to learn recently from the state Department of Public Service – the DPS regulates utilities – that the state likely would fall short of its 2017 goal. Of backing away from the more ambitious 2025 goal, Cheney said, "We don't want to put out a percentage because it sounds good and not be able to meet it."
"You have to balance ambition and what's doable," Klein said.
Citing a DPS report, the lawmakers said renewable energy projects already operating and in the pipeline currently add up to 16.5 percent of Vermont's retail electric sales. Five years is not long enough to plan and build enough new projects to reach the 20 percent goal, they said. And development is expected to slow in part because two key federal incentives for renewable power development are expiring.
The energy committee has been working since early January on legislation that had set the new 2025 goal. Klein said he was putting that bill aside to work on legislation to move the state toward mandatory recycling of solid waste. He said he had asked DPS officials to appear before the committee next week to make a new proposal regarding renewable energy.
Klein and Cheney said they had been hearing a groundswell of concern voiced by business lobbyists that getting more power from renewable sources, which are usually more expensive than electricity generated with nuclear or fossil-fuel-fired power, would drive up electric rates and make Vermont less competitive economically.
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