Committee okays fee on rate payers to fill Green Energy Fund

by Angela Chagnon & Rob Roper

The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee voted 9-2 to send H.56, otherwise known as the Energy Bill, to the next step in the legislative process.

The bill, as introduced, contained a provision to fund “future investments by the clean energy development fund…” The clean energy development fund is currently funded entirely by a fee on Entergy, which makes annual payments of between $4 million to $7 million to the fund, but will do so only through March 2012. If the plant is shut down, that cash flow goes away.

What the Clean Energy Fund does is provide loans that promote the development of clean electric-energy technologies. Given that the fund, for example, paid out $4.3 million to major Shumlin supporter David Blittersdorf of NRG Systems, one can see politicians’ reluctance to eliminate this lucrative source of political favors. So, electric rate payers are going to have to step up, pony up, and fill the void.

Rep. Mike Hebert (R-Vernon) provided an update of the bill after it was voted out of committee. Hebert wrote:

“The Clean Energy Development Fund funding will be shifted to the rate payer. It will be at a rate of $0.55 per utility bill. It is not certain as to how many bills are generated on a individual meter basis and how many bills include multiple meters. This provision will raise approx. $2.38 million. The CEDF now called the Clean Energy Support Charge or CEFC. This fund had been paid for completely by VY. Now it will be funded by the rate payers. It is supposed to sunset in three years, but how many rate increases have we seen actually go away. This is unnecessary if we would allow the Public Service Board to do its’ job and issue a Certificate of Public Good to VY. I believe that Entergy would be willing to negotiate for the continued support of this fund.”

These new fees will come on top of the increase in cost for electricity in Vermont if the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is closed.