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Act 174 Recommendations and Determination Standards

I.  Overview

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.

II.  Standards

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:

IV.  Plans Submitted to the Department for a Determination of Energy Compliance

  1. Bennington County Regional Commission
  2. Town of New Haven
  3. Northwest Regional Planning Commission
  4. Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission #1 (2017)
  5. Town of Benson
  6. Town of Sudbury
  7. Windham Regional Commission
  8. Northeastern Vermont Development Association
  9. Lamoille County Planning Commission
  10. Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission
  11. Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission
  12. Rutland Regional Planning Commission
  13. Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission
  14. Addison County Regional Planning Commission
  15. Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission - #2 (2020)
  16. Northeastern Vermont Development Association - #2 (2023)
  17. Northwest Regional Planning Commission - #2 (2024)

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 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: