Vermont Renewable Energy Program Links Customers, Farms, Environment

Vermont Renewable Energy Program Links Customers, Farms, Environment

Central Vermont Public Service has asked the Vermont Public Service Board to approve the state's first voluntary renewable energy offering for the company's 148,000 customers. Dubbed "CVPS Cow Power," the proposed offering is designed to provide a renewable energy choice for customers while simultaneously helping Vermont farms and the environment.

"CVPS Cow Power is designed to expand renewable energy choices, help alleviate significant air and water quality concerns, and allow customers to play a role in that effort," CVPS president Bob Young said."

Under the proposal, customers who choose CVPS Cow Power would pay a premium of 4 cents per kWh that would be paid to Vermont farmers who produce renewable electricity by burning methane from cow manure. CVPS would also purchase the electricity from the farmers at competitive spot market prices.

Governor James Douglas praised the proposal, saying it would benefit farms, the environment and renewable energy production.

According to David Dunn, the CVPS senior energy consultant who helped design the program, "This will create a new revenue stream for farm owners and could reduce water-quality impacts of farm runoff and neighbor's concerns about odors."

Customers will be able to choose to get all, half or a quarter of their electricity through CVPS Cow Power. A typical residential customer who uses 500 kWh per month would pay an additional $20 if they selected the 100 percent option, $5 if they purchased a quarter of their energy through CVPS Cow Power.

"Through CVPS Cow Power, customers who feel strongly about renewable energy can 'vote' for it by choosing it," Young said. "We believe a significant number of customers will choose it."

The company hopes to create a balance between farm supply and customer demand for CVPS Cow Power, but there may be times when demand exceeds supply. If that happens, CVPS will try to buy other renewable energy certificates in the regional market, or deposit customers' premium payments into a fund to provide incentives for more farm renewable energy projects.

"Either way, participating customers can be proud of their contribution toward renewable energy and the benefits to our environment and Vermont farms," Young said.

The company has worked with dairy farms, state officials and other groups to create CVPS Cow Power. Several farms are considering participating by building generators, which would blend in with other farm equipment and facilities. Non-participating customers would be held harmless from the program's costs. The company hopes to gain PSB approval in time to offer the service in July.