Legislative leaders have put their 2 cents in about the energy efficiency program the state has outlined in its request for proposals. They don't think the program matches the law and they've formally told the Public Service Board so.
Vermont Public Interest Research Group has also objected, as I reported last month. The state Department of Public Service is expected to respond, but today Sarah Hofmann, director for Public Advocacy, asked for a second extension. It seems that the transfer of Steve Wark from DPS to the governor's office has left them a little short-staffed at DPS.
Here's the leggie's letter:
December 3, 2008
Dear Members of the Public Service Board,
We have reviewed the Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by
the Department of Public Service (DPS) pursuant to Act 92 (30 V.S.A.
The RFP disregards the legislature’s intent of creating
a successful long term program to provide efficiency services to those currently
not eligible, specifically the middle class and small business owners.
Rising oil prices and climate change present both immediate
and long-term challenges to our state.
To address these challenges the legislature passed
legislation to grant more Vermont families and businesses the ability to improve
the efficiency of their buildings and save them money on their heating
This comprehensive, long term approach was also intended
to stimulate Vermont’s economic development and create good paying jobs in
energy efficiency services. In Act 92, we proposed a program to meet these goals
by directing the DPS to “Ensure that all retail consumers,regardless of retail
electricity, gas, or heating or process fuel provider, will have an opportunity
to participate in and benefit from a comprehensive set of cost effective energy
efficiency programs and initiatives designed to overcome barriers to
participation.” (VSATitle 30, Section 235(d)(1)).
The above passage directs the DPS to design an
efficiency program targeting the population that currently lacks access to
assistance for building efficiency.
We are concerned that the RFP issued by the DPSpursuant
to that Act ignores this mandate for an inclusive program. Instead, the DPS’ RFP
seeks proposals to “Provide weatherization services to primarily low-income
populations.”Assisting Vermonters who need help meeting their needs is a
criticalaspect of the legislature’s work.
The Legislature has done so byconsistently supporting
increases in the low-income weatherization program budget, even when the current
administration has opposed increases. While Governor Douglas either level funded
or under funded the program in his past three budgets, the legislature
successfully fought for increases of $750,000, $750,000 and $1 million in
fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.
The revenue stream allocated in Act 92 is targeted at a
different population of Vermonters.In addition, Act 92 directs the DPS to
“Provide a reasonably stable multiyear budget and planning cycle and in order to
promote program improvement, program stability, enhanced access to capital
and personnel, improved integration of program designs with the budgets
of regulated companies providing energy services, and maturation of programs and
delivery resources.” (Section 235(d)(7)).
The one-year timeframe set forth in the RFP undermines the
stability of the program and limits any applicant’s ability to build the
work force or invest in the equipment necessary to make the program a
long-term success. With oil prices likely to rise again and the
increasing fragility of our economy, middle class Vermonters and small
business owners need a program designed for long-term success.
- Terri Hallenbeck