Tag Archives: Renewable Energy Credits

Republicans can stop yammering about utility rates anytime now

Here’s a little shock to the system. Vermont’s own Green Mountain Power has some of the lowest electricity rates in New England. GMP has the second-lowest residential rates of any regional utility, the third-lowest commercial rates, and the absolute rock-bottom lowest rates for industrial customers.

New England industrial electric ratesYou know how the Republicans are always complaining about the high cost of power and how it’s forcing businesses to flee? Well, it’s horseshit, and they need to cut it out.

The data comes from the Edison Electric Institute, so don’t try to tell me somebody’s got their thumb on the scale.

It’s true that Vermont has relatively high power rates compared to the rest of the nation, but that’s because of built-in structural disadvantages for all of the Northeast, not because of excessive regulation or our green power policy. Indeed, it’s a testament to GMP management that it’s kept rates so low while moving aggressively toward a renewable future. It would also appear that Vermont’s regulatory structure is a lot smarter than it’s given credit for.

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A misleading report on RECs

Kevin Jones has a bug up his butt about one aspect of Vermont’s renewable energy program. The latest emission from the Vermont Law School professor’s policy shop is a report slamming the sale of Renewable Energy Credits. It deliberately overlooks the purpose and endgame of RECs, focusing largely on one immediate consequence:

“Vermont gets virtually none of its grid power from wind or solar sources, according to a report Vermont Law School students presented recently to the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

Developers and utilities sell Vermont’s wind and solar power to other New England states, using what are known as renewable energy credits, or RECs. As a result, although Vermonters subsidize these forms of energy, utilities in other states actually benefit from them, the report found.

The topline there — “Vermont gets virtually none of its power from wind or solar” — is technically accurate but fundamentally misleading.

It’s true that Vermont doesn’t immediately get “credit” for our renewables. But in reality, we are producing significant amounts of carbon-neutral energy. That’s a good thing, even in the short run when the “credit” goes elsewhere; and in the long run, the RECs will retire and we will get the “credit” for cheap energy that helps combat global warming.

Jones’ influence on reports like this soil the reputation of VLS, and honestly, I don’t know why they let him get away with it. He is having a malign influence on our energy debate under the VLS imprimatur, and teaching his students some bad policy lessons.

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