Vermont DPS Allocates Funds for Solar, Recommends Increased Spending on Energy Efficiency
Vermont of Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien announced on July 19 that the Department of Public Service (DPS) will use the first installment of funds from the Clean Energy Development Fund on solar energy, transmission to farms with methane digesters, and combined heat and power projects. DPS established the Clean Energy Development Fund in 2005 based on a settlement with Entergy on how to store nuclear waste at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. This first installment is worth $1.3 million out of a total of about $7 million the state will receive from the utility through 2012 for the fund.
O'Brien said that $500,000 will go to rebates on solar systems. Vermont residents receive a subsidy of 20% of the cost of installing a solar power system on their homes. Another $500,000 will extend three-phase transmission lines to farms that have anaerobic digesters so they can sell their power into the grid. The farms are part of the Cow Power project run by Central Vermont Public Service where customers can buy renewable energy credits from these farms for producing electricity from methane. The remaining money will go in smaller allotments to encourage installation of combined heat and power projects using wood residues, to aid in the construction of an energy efficient building in Townsend, and for other small projects. For more information, see the DPS July 19 press release (PDF 40 KB).
A week later, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas announced he wanted to increase funding to Efficiency Vermont by 50 percent to $26.4 million in 2008. The governor based his recommendation on a DPS report issued July 27 that said an even larger investment would be cost effective. The report said that over the next ten years, energy efficiency will provide a return on investment of almost $3 for every $1 invested. The Public Service Board will set the budget for Efficiency Vermont by August 15. DPS also manages the State Energy Program in Vermont.