Goal: Building on the success of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs) that have worked well to transform the electricity sector, Vermont should create a Clean Heat performance Standard (CHS), applied on a competitively neutral basis to all major suppliers of heating fuels in Vermont.
The power sector, and to a lesser degree, the pipeline gas sector, have been paying for and delivering the overwhelming majority of the greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions we have seen in Vermont to date, while the fossil fuel sector has delivered only a small share of the total savings we need to lower customer bills and carbon pollution in coming years. These gains did not happen on their own – they resulted from government policies that required improved performance by energy suppliers, ramping up over time. As Vermont’s second largest source of GHG emissions, fossil heat providers must now make similar improvements.
As we reduce reliance on fossil heat, a Clean Heat Standard would support a range of cleaner options, including advanced wood heat (wood chips and pellets), liquid biofuels, renewable natural gas, and high-efficiency heat pumps. Creating a sure market for these choices would provide a path to new lines of business for Vermont’s critically-important heating suppliers.
Policymakers and stakeholders will need to work together to answer key questions about a Clean Heat Standard design, including:
- What will be the statewide targets for lowering carbon emissions caused by heating and cooling buildings? How will they align with the state’s established climate goals?
- Where should we place the point of regulation for the standard: wholesalers? retail?
- Should the system be structured underneath a fossil heat cap with allowances, or as a system of credits earned by energy companies for delivering GHG reductions?
- What should qualify as creditable emissions reductions actions: reducing the carbon content of the provider’s heating fuels; improving customers’ heating systems, or switching them to a lower-emitting technology; or delivering improvements in the thermal efficiency of customers’ buildings?
- Should there be a pool of transferable credits for regulated parties who do not deliver their fair share of Clean Heat savings to purchase credits from other parties who have delivered above their required savings?
- How can the CHS be designed to assist historic fossil heat providers with fair and realistic opportunities to change what they sell and how they help customers?
Network members and partners supporting this effort:
- The Regulatory Assistance Project (Richard Cowart, Rick Weston)
- Energy Futures Group (Chris Neme, Gabrielle Stebbins)
- VGS (Neale Lunderville, Jill Pfenning)
- Energy Co-op of Vermont (Brian Gray)
- Leigh Seddon, Don Rendall
- Plus Advisors from the VT Public Service Department, the Public Utilities Commission, and elsewhere.
If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in this project, please contact Cara Robechek firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Network Action Team projects were selected by the Network membership through a competitive process at the EAN annual summit. Although Network members may support specific policy actions as part of their work on these Action Teams, EAN staff serve in the role of neutral convener and refrain from advocating for specific policies.