Renewable Natural Gas – Another Missed Opportunity for Vermont Gas Systems

Sandy Levine | @CLFLevine

When Vermont regulators approved an ill-fated natural gas pipeline in 2013, they required that the pipeline make available renewable natural gas for its customers.

As conceived, this would be a (very) small step to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from expanding the use of fossil fuels in Vermont.

Natural gas is methane. Cow poop also produces methane. On some large Vermont dairy farms, the methane from the cow manure is used to produce electricity. Many of these farms are part of the Green Mountain Power “Cow Power” program.

Farm methane is also used by cleaning it and putting it in pipes to be used as any other gas supply. If we are going to use methane gas, it may as well come from local farms.

Unfortunately, the Vermont Gas Systems proposal relies mostly on importing landfill gas, mostly from Canada. And then charging Vermont customers who “volunteer” to participate a much higher price for this gas. This is a huge missed opportunity. It doesn’t develop a local renewable gas supply and it doesn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most landfills already are required to burn or use the methane produced to avoid it going into the atmosphere.

CLF has submitted expert testimony explaining how the Vermont Gas Systems proposal is out of sync with growing renewable energy supply and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. CLF recommends a much more robust program – one that helps grow local farm resources and truly increases our reliance on renewable natural gas rather than paying lip service to our clean energy commitments by providing only a very limited and outdated voluntary program.

You can read CLF’s testimony here.

You can see other filings here.

A technical hearing is scheduled for September 2, 2016.

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