With contracts providing two-thirds of Vermont’s electric power set to expire in 2012, Vermont faced choices over its energy future involving cost, reliability, greenhouse gas emissions, and in-state versus out-of-state resources.
The State of Vermont asked CBI and Raab Associates to help design a public engagement process that would involve stakeholders from across the state in discussions about their energy future. The State sought to:
CBI and Raab Associates led an expert stakeholder group — which included stakeholders from Vermont Public Interest Group (VPIRG), environmental groups, utilities, and government officials — to develop a written document of the state's energy options as well as detailed survey questions. CBI and Raab Associates then designed and facilitated five regional workshops in St. Johnsbury, South Burlington, Montpelier, Springfield, and Rutland.
The workshops included presentations on Vermont’s electricity system, future challenges, and potential options, all of which were developed and vetted by a team including CBI and Raab Associates, a Project Advisory Committee, and a Resource Panel. Participants took part in facilitated group discussions on what they believed were the most significant challenges and promising options for Vermont. Participants also engaged in a keypad polling exercise and responded to questions on a wide range of electricity related goals, issues, and priorities. The workshops concluded with a public comment period. In addition to the public workshops, the process also included a deliberative polling session and online conferences.
The public input process led by CBI and Raab Associates engaged over 700 citizens from across the state to help determine Vermont's energy plan.
A final report, showing that minimizing air pollution, reducing emissions, and using renewable resources were stakeholders’ most important priorities, was submitted to the state legislature for consideration. A subsequent state decision to focus on hydropower versus nuclear power as a significant energy source reflected stakeholder interests.