Dear Senate Appropriations Committee,
While we may differ on whether or not the Clean Heat Standard is the best path forward at this time, it is clear that this is the intention of the legislature. We would like to offer some constructive feedback on aspects of the bill that we believe are problematic to the stated goals of accountability, affordability, and carbon-reduction.
Vermonters have been reassured that this bill is “just a study” of what such a system might look like. Thankfully, your committee added the “check back” provision to the bill. However, there are several ways around this provision that are concerning and do not provide the level of oversight that Vermonters have been promised.
Rulemaking – The rulemaking provision in the bill seemingly allows the PUC to skirt the check-back provision that this committee added. The language is as follows:
8126. RULEMAKING (b) The requirements to adopt rules and any requirements regarding the need for legislative approval before any part of the Clean Heat Standard goes into effect do not in any way impair the Commission’s authority to issue orders or take any other actions, both before and after final rules take effect, to implement and enforce the Clean Heat Standard.
This language clearly allows the PUC to issue orders to enforce compliance with the Clean Heat Standard BEFORE the rules come back for legislative approval. We believe this undermines the committee’s work in this area.
Registration – Local fuel dealers must start registering with the PUC in January 2024, a full year prior to the system coming back to the legislature. Annual requirements will already be assigned to each of these ‘obligated parties’ before the legislature ever weighs in.
- Early Action – Credits will start accruing as of January of this year, meaning that two years’ worth of credits (value TBD) will have been accrued before the legislature ever gets a chance to weigh in on what their value should be.
We would also like to see cost-containment measures in the bill as well as greater protections for low- and fixed-income Vermonters.