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Most Residential Electric Customers To See Drop In Energy Efficiency Charges

Looking up at a utility pole
Taylor Dobbs
VPR File
The Public Utility Commission has lowered rates that most residential customers pay to fund energy efficiency services, although the change does not apply to Vermont Gas and Burlington Electric Department customers.

Most residential electric customers around Vermont will see a 3 percent decrease next year in a fee that’s used to fund energy efficiency services statewide.

The money goes to Efficiency Vermont, which uses it in energy savings programs. The charge is based on how much electricity a customer uses. 

The decision made by the Public Utility Commission on Nov. 6 applies to all utility customers except for those of Vermont Gas and the Burlington Electric Department, whose efficiency charges are calculated differently.

The PUC's decision also kept rates flat for business and commercial customers despite the state’s calculation that those rates should rise substantially instead.

"We are a little bit concerned that the PUC decision has essentially kicked the can down the road." — Ed McNamara, Department of Public Service

Ed McNamara is the director of the planning and energy resources division at the Department of Public Service, which advocates for ratepayers. He said a big issue in the case involved assuring fairness for all classes of ratepayers and making sure one group of customers was not subsidizing the other.

“There’s obviously concerns about economic development, economic vitality within the state,” McNamara said. “There’s also the concern about equity among rate classes and potential cross-subsidies.”

McNamara said the state's long-established methodology used to calculate the rates would have led to a steeper reduction for residential customers, and a significant increase for business and industrial customers next year. He said the PUC will eventually have to confront the discrepancy, and that business and commercial customers may see much higher rates when that happens.

“We are a little bit concerned that the PUC decision has essentially kicked the can down the road,” he said.

But McNamara noted that the PUC has also opened a broad investigation into energy efficiency services and is likely to revisit the methodology used to calculate rates for customers.

Disclosure: Efficiency Vermont is a VPR underwriter.

John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.
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