When Vermont policymakers discuss the state’s rising greenhouse gas emissions, the consensus is that the electric sector is doing pretty well.
Vermont requires utilities to supply 75% of their energy renewably by 2032 — one of the highest mandates in the country — and multiple utilities are already 100% renewable.
Nationally, electricity accounts for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions; in Vermont, electricity accounts for just shy of 10%.
Critics say Vermont’s renewable energy standard encourages utilities to buy cheap renewable energy certificates, or RECs, from out of state that wouldn’t meet renewable requirements elsewhere.
That means companies can tout in-state energy generation projects like wind and solar, sell the renewable “credits” to other states, then purchase cheaper credits from out-of-state projects like hydropower, and still count it toward their renewable targets.
So although Vermont is leading the way on some renewable indicators, the numbers don’t tell the full story — and some think the Green Mountain State should follow what other states have done and adopt a stricter definition of renewables.
Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, D-Bradford, said the Vermont Climate Solutions Caucus, which she vice chairs, will be pushing this session to update the state’s renewable energy standard to require more in-state generation.
“In our minds, it doesn’t really work to call our electric grid clean green when we’re not generating the new electricity that we need out of in-state generation,” she said.
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