Solicitation of Towns to Participate in Town Energy Planning Element Pilot

Letters of Interest should be submitted to ACRPC by Monday, October 1st 2018

The Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) has received a third, and potentially final, round of funding to assist at least three towns within the Region with the development of town plan energy elements that are consistent with the provisions of Act 174 (see links to background information below).  This is a great opportunity for towns that are interested in comprehensive energy planning at the town level in Vermont!

Thus far, we have worked with six towns.  In order to allow ACRPC’s Energy Committee to make a fair choice of three again, we are asking interested towns to send us a letter of interest briefly outlining why they would be a good candidate.

We want to remind everyone that developing a town plan energy element that is consistent with the provisions of Act 174 is not mandatory; it is a town’s choice to do so.

Here is what we are looking for:

1)   Commitment to comprehensive energy planning.  While planning for the siting of renewable energy projects has garnered the most attention and interest, this planning process is much broader and deeper than addressing only siting issues.  The towns we assist must be committed to understanding how energy is consumed in the town across sectors and how this relates to the town’s land use policies; what steps the town will take to a reduce energy consumption, transition away from non-renewable energy consumption, and move towards the adoption of renewable energy; what renewable energy development is appropriate within the town, and where and how it can best be developed; and the town policy basis for all of the above.  The goal is to amend your current town plan to incorporate this energy element.

2)  Being one of these three towns has been discussed within the town, especially  between the Planning Commission and Selectboard (along with the town’s Energy Committee, if you have one), and there is agreement that going through this process is something that would be good for the town at this time. The ACRPC plays the role of facilitator and technical assistance provider when we assist towns with their planning efforts.  The hard work is up to the town.  It is the town that deliberates and makes the decisions, including what the town policies should be.  Please consider whether or not the town is in a place where it is capable of having a thoughtful conversation about all aspects of energy, and whether or not this process will bring the town together rather than divide it.

3)   Recognition that this is a pilot effort.  While energy planning is not new to the ACRPC and not new to you, we will be working together to meet new energy planning standards established under Act 174, and we will be diving deeper into a broad spectrum of energy issues including use, efficiency, conservation, and generation.  These standards are still rather new, and the process young.  While we do not anticipate serious difficulties, we will all be learning together.

Letters of interest from towns that would like to be one of the three towns chosen for this planning effort should explain what the town seeks to achieve through this comprehensive energy planning effort and indicate that the three conditions listed above are acceptable and desirable.

Letters of interest should be submitted to Adam Lougee at the address above or at alougee@acrpc.org .  Please call Adam with any questions at 802-388-3141

For additional information:

Act 174

http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2016/Docs/acts/ACT174/ACT174%20As%20Enacted.pdf

Act 174 Regional and Municipal Planning Standards Overview: http://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/dps/files/documents/Pubs_Plans_Reports/Act_174/Standards%200verview.pdf

Final Energy Planning Standards:  http://publicservice.vermont.gov/announcements/final-energy-planning-standards

Public Service Department Energy Planning Page:  http://publicservice.vermont.gov;content/act-174-recommendations-and-determination-standards

 

Energy Subsection of the Addison County Regional Plan

The Energy Subsection of the Addison County Regional Plan outlines regional goals and policies for energy conservation and renewable energy generation. It includes specific implementable strategies appropriate to the Addison Region to accomplish these goals and a mapping component that identifies areas with the potential for renewable energy generation.

The Vermont Department of Public Service funded the Energy Subsection of the Addison County Regional Plan. The Addison County Regional Planning Commission (“ACRPC”) created the Energy Element of its plan to comply with the Department’s regional standards enabled in Act 174, the Energy Development Improvement Act of 2016, described below. The Energy Element of the Addison County Regional Plan constitutes one of eleven Enhanced Energy Plans, one for each region of the State. ACRPC completed the plan to guide energy usage and development within the Region. By funding and completing in-depth energy planning within each region, the Department intends to enable Vermont to achieve state and regional energy goals – most notably, the goal to have renewable energy sources meet 90% of the state’s total energy needs by 2050 (90 x 50 goal).

The Energy Subsection of the Addison County Regional Plan was amended and approved on July 18, 2018, and the Plan was re-adopted in its entirety. Pursuant to 24 V.S.A. §4348(f) the Addison County Regional Planning Commission’s amendments and re-adoption of its Plan will become valid within 35 days of its adoption on July 18, 2018, unless a majority of the legislative bodies of its municipal members veto the Plan within that time frame. The amended Energy Subsection can be found below:

Energy Planning & Act 174

The Department of Public Service has released the final energy planning determination standards and recommendations called for in Act 174, the Energy Development Improvement Act. These standards will be used by the Department and Regional Planning Commissions to make determinations as to whether regional and municipal plans are consistent with state energy policy. Plans that receive an affirmative determination will receive substantial deference for their land conservation measures and specific policies when the Public Service Board considers orderly development in its review of siting applications. Act 174 details a set of planning requirements to receive a determination, including consistency with Vermont’s energy and climate goals and the inclusion of energy analysis across the building, transportation, and electrical sectors.

The standards consist of a checklist of required analyses, goals, and actions. The checklist approach is intended to enable municipal and regional planners to conduct planning with a determination of energy compliance in mind. Act 174 establishes three pathways for a plan to receive a determination of energy compliance:

1) regional plans will be evaluated by the Department;
2) once their region’s plan has received an affirmative determination, municipal plans will be evaluated by their regional planning commission; and
3) until July 1, 2018, a municipality in a region that has not received a determination may apply to the Department for evaluation.

The standards build upon regional energy planning work already underway at all Regional Planning Commissions under contract with the Department. Regions will furthermore be providing analyses and maps that will enable municipalities to easily meet the Analysis & Targets and Mapping standards. Regions will also conduct at least two trainings in each region, will each be offering in-depth technical assistance to at least three municipalities, and will be compiling best practice language from those efforts, which will aid future municipalities in meeting the Pathways standards.

The Department has also issued guidance documents for regions and municipalities to use as they write their plans, which offer standard-by-standard guidelines, resources, and potential language, and incorporate the Recommendations as excerpted from the 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan. The final standards and recommendations, along with an overview and regional and municipal guidelines, can be found here.

Addison County Regional Planning Commission | 14 Seminary Street Middlebury, VT 05753 | 802.388.3141 |

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