Act 174 of 2016 established a new set of municipal and regional energy planning standards, which if met allow those plans to carry greater weight - substantial deference - in the Section 248 siting process for energy generation. Meeting the standards is entirely voluntary; if regions and municipalities do not wish to update their plans, they will continue to receive due consideration in the Section 248 process. A descriptive flow chart of the energy planning standards review process is available for review.
As required by Act 174, the standards for regional plans and muncipal plans were updated with the recent update to the Comprehensive Energy Plan. The updated standards can be found below. The 2022 Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) also contains numerous recommendations for action to meet the state's climate and energy goals, including local and regional action.
- Form-fillable version of the detailed standards for regional plans that can be completed and submitted to the Department
- Form-fillable version of the detailed standards for municipal plans that can be completed and submitted to the regional planning commission
III. Recommendations & Guidance
To support regional and municipal planners develop or revise enhanced energy plans, the Department has developed a number of data tools and guidance documents, which can be accessed here:
- Department Guidance Documents:
- January 2024 Update: Guidance for Regional & Municipal Enhanced Energy Planning Standards
- Original Guidance Published in 2017:
- Data Tools for Regions and Municipalities:
- Workbook Tools README
- December 2023 Update: Municipal Consumption Template
- Original: Municipal Consumption Template
- December 2023 Update: Analysis & Targets Aid Region Bottom Up (format matches 2023 LEAP data)
- Original (format matches original LEAP data) Analysis & Targets Aid Region Bottom Up
- 2023 Update: Generation Scenarios Planning Tool - April 2023
- Original: Generation Scenarios Aid
- Tools not updated in 2022 Standards Update:
- Mapping Support: The Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI) has updated the Planning Atlas with the Act 174 constraint layers. Be sure to choose, “Act 174 – Energy Planning” from the drop down.
- GIS practitioners may also wish to visit the Open Geodata Portal (Search for 'act 174' | Vermont Open Geodata Portal Your source for geospatial data) and/or the Geocortex Viewer for HTML5 (vermont.gov).
- VCGI's data release is available at: Act 174 Statewide Energy Planning Data Updated: Known and Possible Constraints, Renewable Energy Potential | Vermont Center for Geographic Information
- VCGI's training slides "Finding and Using Act 174 Data - 2022 Update"
- Best Practices: Northwest Regional Planning Commission, with input from all 11 RPCs in the state, has created a best practices and resources guide for municipalities to use when undertaking enhanced energy planning.
IV. Plans Submitted to the Department for a Determination of Energy Compliance
- Bennington County Regional Commission
- Town of New Haven
- Northwest Regional Planning Commission
- Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission #1 (2017)
- Town of Benson
- Town of Sudbury
- Windham Regional Commission
- Northeastern Vermont Development Association
- Lamoille County Planning Commission
- Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission
- Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission
- Rutland Regional Planning Commission
- Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission
- Addison County Regional Planning Commission
- Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission - #2 (2020)
- Northeastern Vermont Development Association - #2 (2023)
A list of towns that have received determinations of energy compliance directly from their regional planning commissions as of December 2023, is available from the Vermont Association of Planning & Development Agencies (VAPDA).
V. Plan Review Process
For regional plans submitted to the Department for a determination of energy compliance, the following outlines the general process:
- Regional Planning Commissions may request a pre-review of their draft plan.
- Regional requests for determination of energy compliance should be submitted to the Department of Public Service through the PSD.PlanningStandards@vermont.gov e-mail address. Please submit all required elements (i.e. checklist, plan, and any supporting documentation such as memo/planning commission report discussed in "Plan Adoption Requirement" section of standards checklist).
- The Department will work with the RPC to schedule a public hearing that will be notified 15 days in advance.
- The Department will issue an approval or denial within the two-month review period. If a negative determination is issued, a memo stating the reasons for denial will be provided to the RPC.
- RPCs may re-submit after correcting the reasons for denial noted in the memo.
- If an RPC re-submits their plan, the Department will issue an approval or denial within 45 days.
- RPCs may appeal a decision of the Department to the Natural Resources Board within 30 days.
Municipalities should submit plans directly to their RPC of jurisdiction. The same process as outlined above will generally apply, but municipalities should consult directly with their RPC to understand that RPC's specific processes supplemental to statutorily required actions and timelines.
VI. Submitting a Plan for a Determination of Energy Compliance
Please see the instructions contained in the detailed standards for either regions or municipalities, above. Note that after July 1, 2018, only regional plans may be submitted to the Department of Public Service for a determination; municipal plans must be submitted directly to the RPC of jurisdiction for their determinations. Questions may be sent to: PSD.PlanningStandards@vermont.gov.