By John Dillon, Vermont Public Radio.
Vermont policy to promote renewable energy is at a turning point. The Legislature will soon debate whether the state should join other New England states and many around the country in adopting a set standard for the amount of renewable energy utilities here must use.
At stake in the debate is how - and how much - Vermonters will pay for renewable energy.
There's a robust market for renewable power produced here in Vermont, and it's not just the megawatts generated by solar, wind or hydro facilities. Vermont utilities sell renewable energy credits -- called RECs -- that are essentially the environmental attributes of the green power. These credits are bought by out of state companies to meet their states goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Those sales amount to about $50 million a year, and have helped reduce electric rates in Vermont by around 5 percent.