Act 174 Energy Planning

The Windham Region and many of the Region towns have developed energy plans. These plans combine energy and land use planning while looking to meet the State goal of 90% renewable energy by 2050. Developing these plans is optional. Key sections of the plans are:

  • Analysis on current energy use and projections and targets of future use
  • Identifying pathways and policies to achieve the goals
  • Supporting maps which analyze renewable resource availability

What’s the Draw?

Besides the opportunity to delve into the town/region’s energy use and plan how to meaningfully work towards goals, a plan which meets the State’s requirements has more standing in the new energy generation development permitting process which includes the siting of these developments. Comprehensive energy planning is described in greater detail in the following section. Also on this page: the definitions of jargon associated with the plans, resources for towns developing enhanced energy elements, the process for towns pursuing a determination of energy compliance, and the Regional Energy Plan background and resources.

Act 174 Basics

Act 174 encourages comprehensive energy planning on the regional and town levels throughout the state of Vermont. As a result of Act 174, Windham Regional Commission and the other RPCs developed Regional Energy Plans. These plans are a tool for the implementation of the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP), which sets a goal for the state of 90% of all energy used in Vermont to be sourced by renewable energy by 2050. The regional plans are also intended to inform future iterations of the CEP. The RPCs received technical support, especially data, from the Department of Public Service, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), and the Energy Action Network.

Developing an Act 174 compliant enhanced energy plan is optional. For towns which develop “energy compliant” enhanced energy elements, the plans receive “substantial deference” in the energy generation permitting process as opposed to the due consideration all receive currently (see “The Jargon” below for definitions). The enhanced energy elements, as per requirements, are incorporated and amended into the Town Plan.

Municipal Technical Assistance

Windham Regional Commission has developed current use data, target use data, and energy generation potential maps to each of the towns compiled here. WRC has assisted 9 towns with developing their enhanced energy element. The town planning commission approved drafts can be accessed here:

  • Londonderry, PDF
  • Vernon, PDF
  • Westminster, PDF
  • Windham, PDF

The WRC has also received funding to assist at least 3 additional towns with custom technical assistance in which the WRC will aid the towns in going through the comprehensive energy planning process and ensure there is internal consistency with the rest of the town’s plan. If your town is interested, submit a letter of interest to WRC with signatures from both the planning commission and Selectboard by September 28, 2018.

How do we (towns) Receive a Determination of Energy Compliance?

For towns interested in receiving a determination of energy compliance, the town must first have a locally adopted energy plan. For information on the town plan amendment and adoption process, visit the Town Planning page . The town then will submit a request to the Windham Regional Commission for Determination of Energy Compliance. The request should include:

  • The locally adopted energy plan
  • Completed “Energy Planning Standards for Municipal Plans” checklist document
  • Minutes for the meeting in which the plan was adopted
  • A brief report on the internal consistency between the energy plan and the other elements of the municipal plan.

WRC’s process for Determination:

  1. The Energy Committee and staff will review the checklist and plan for consistency
  2. WRC will host a hearing on the energy element.
  3. The Energy Committee will send their recommendation for determination (positive or negative) to the Full Commission for a vote.

If the town is pursuing Regional Approval of the entire plan, the request for determination will be integrated into the overall request for review. The Planning Coordination Committee (PCC) will be reviewing the plan in entirety and the Energy Committee will be reviewing ONLY the energy element. Because of the requirements in the Standards, the enhanced energy element hearing must be held after and separate from the town plan hearing. To make the process as simple as possible, the municipal plan hearing can be held on the same night as the enhanced energy element by opening the town plan hearing, closing that hearing, then opening the enhanced energy element hearing directly afterwards. In other words, the two review processes will be happening simultaneously, on the same timeline, using the same dates for hearings and votes.

This process must be completed between 30 and 60 days after receiving the request for determination from the town.

Into the Weeds (Resources for Element Development)

  • Town Specific Data & Enhanced Energy Element Template
  • Standards, PDF
  • Guidance, PDF
  • Best Practices, PDF 
  • Presentation on municipal enhanced energy planning and data, PDF
  • Preferred siting approaches:
    • For identifying types of sites: Grafton’s criteria list used by several towns
    • For identifying specific sites: Guidance from Bennington County Regional Commission, PDF

Regional Energy Plan

Act 174 encourages comprehensive energy planning on the regional and town levels throughout the state of Vermont. As a result of Act 174, the Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) throughout the state have been tasked and received funding to generate regional energy plans. These plans will be a tool for the implementation of the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP), which sets a goal for the state of 90% of all energy used in Vermont to be sourced by renewable energy by 2050. The regional plans are also intended to inform future iterations of the CEP. The RPCs will receive technical support, especially data, from the Department of Public Service, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), and the Energy Action Network.

The full Windham Regional Energy Plan is available on the Publications page and here (added to the end of the Regional Plan).

The WRC is pleased to announce the Regional Energy Plan has received a certificate of energy compliance from the Public Service Department. This certificate enables the WRC to review town enhanced energy plans for the town’s determination of energy compliance. With an affirmative determination, the town will receive substantial deference from the Public Utilities Commission during section 248 proceedings. We’d once again like to thank everyone who contributed to the plan.

A copy of the certificate can be viewed here, while Commissioner Tierney's comments can be viewed here.

  • Act 174, full text of the Act:  click here
  • Act 174 FAQ:  PDF
  • Act 174 Flow Chart:  PDF
  • Act 174 Regional and Municipal Planning Standards Overview, from the Public Service Department:  click here 
  • Final Energy Planning Standards from the Public Service Department:  click here   
  • Public Service Department Energy Planning Page:  click here 

 

Last Updated on 31 August 2018
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