Vermont Laws and Incentives
Listed below are the summaries of all current Vermont laws, incentives, regulations, funding opportunities, and other initiatives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, advanced technologies, or air quality. You can go directly to summaries of:
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Incentive
The Vermont Agency of Transportation will administer the PEV Incentive Program, which provides financial incentives to low- and moderate-income residents for the purchase or lease of a new PEV. (Reference House Bill 529, 2019)
Fuel-Efficient Vehicle and Emission Reduction Incentives
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) will administer the High Fuel Efficiency Vehicle Incentive and Emissions Repair Program, which provides incentives to replace eligible vehicles with a used vehicle that has a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) combined city/highway fuel economy of at least 40 miles per gallon (mpg) and vouchers of up to $2,500 for the repair of vehicles that failed the on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems inspection. Eligible vehicles for replacement include those that have failed the OBD systems inspection or those that are more than 15 years old and have an EPA combined city/highway fuel economy of less than 25 mpg. Eligible vehicles for a repair voucher are those that have failed the OBD systems inspection, require repairs that are not under warranty, and will be able to pass the inspection once the repairs are made.
The Vermont Department of Labor, in consultation with VTrans and other Vermont agencies, must evaluate whether to establish the Emissions Repair Program and submit a report to the legislature regarding how to fund the program on or before February 1, 2020.
(Reference House Bill 529, 2019)
Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Reduction Grants
Through the Vermont Diesel Emissions Reduction Grants Program, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provides funding to local, state and regional agencies or departments, businesses, institutions, and nonprofit organizations for projects focused on reducing emissions from diesel engines and vehicles. Qualifying heavy-duty vehicles include buses and Class 5-8 trucks. Projects eligible for funding are as follows:
- Verified emission control technologies;
- Verified idle reduction technologies;
- Verified aerodynamic technologies and low rolling resistance tires;
- Certified engine replacements;
- Alternative fuel conversions; and
- Certified vehicle or equipment replacements.
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Grants
The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) provides funding to governments, businesses, non-profit organizations, homeowner associations, electric utilities, and EVSE providers for the cost and installation of eligible EVSE. Funding is available for up to 60% of project costs, with a maximum of $150,000 per project site. This grant program is funded by Vermont's portion of the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. For more information, including application requirements, see the DHCD EVSE Grant Program website.
Alternative Fueling Infrastructure Incentive
The Vermont State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) offers loan assistance to municipalities, regional development corporations, political subdivisions of the state, and private companies working for the state to finance public electric vehicle charging and natural gas fueling stations. 1% fixed loans are available to municipalities and 3% fixed loans are available to private sector borrowers. Other terms and conditions may apply. See the Vermont Economic Development Authority's SIB page for more information, including how to apply.
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Loan - Burlington Electric Department (BED)
BED provides low- or no-interest loans for the purchase of a new PEV. Eligible customers can also apply a BED PEV incentive of up to $1,800 toward the purchase of the PEV. For more information, see the BED Electric Vehicles website.
Plug-In Electric Vehicle Rebate - Burlington Electric Department (BED)
BED customers are eligible for a $1,200 rebate on the purchase or lease of a new qualifying all-electric vehicle (EV). Qualifying plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are eligible for a $1,000 rebate. Moderate income customers are eligible for an additional $600 rebate for an EV or an additional $500 rebate for a PHEV. Vehicles must have a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of less than $50,000 and be registered in Burlington, VT. Rebates are available through December 31, 2019. For more information, including how to apply, see the BED Electric Vehicles website.
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Rate Reduction and EVSE Rebate - BED
Burlington Electric Department (BED) offers a per kilowatt-hour discount for residential customers to charge PEVs during off-peak times. To qualify, customers must install a WiFi enabled electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).
BED also offers a rebate of $400 for the purchase and installation of a qualifying Wifi enabled EVSE for customers that have enrolled in BED’s Residential EV Rate. Eligible applicants must have purchased EVSE within 60 days of the acquisition of the EV.
For more information, see the BED EV Rate website.
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Incentives - Green Mountain Power (GMP)
GMP residential customers are eligible for a free Level 2 EVSE when they purchase a new all-electric vehicle (EV). Residential customers that already own an EV may rent a Level 2 EVSE station at a low monthly fee. In addition, customers may enroll in GMP's EV Unlimited Plan for unlimited EV charging during off-peak hours at a flat monthly fee. For more information about these incentives, see GMP's In-Home Level 2 EV Charger website.
Laws and Regulations
Public Utility Definition
An entity that supplies electricity to the public exclusively to charge plug-in electric vehicles is not defined as a public utility and may charge for this electricity by the kilowatt-hour. (Reference House Bill 529, 2019, and Vermont Statutes Title 30, Chapter 5, Section 203)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Fee Analysis
By December 15, 2019, the Vermont Public Utility Commission (Commission), in consultation with electric utilities, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont Department of Public Service, and Efficiency Vermont, must submit a report to the legislature evaluating:
- The steps necessary for electric utilities to implement a PEV charging fee;
- A PEV charging tariff design for electric utilities with more than 17,000 customers;
- Whether the Commission should require electric utilities to submit regular reports on PEV charging-related activities;
- The amount of additional revenue electric utilities expect to be generated by PEVs over the next 10 years; and
- How to address the use of net metering and net metering energy credits for PEV charging.
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Fee Authorization
Effective July 1, 2019, any Vermont agency or department that owns or controls EVSE may establish and set user fees. The agency or department may establish fees that are less than the cost of charging, that cover the cost of charging, or that are equal to the retail rate charged for the use of EVSE available to the public. Fees collected must be deposited into the same fund or account from which the EVSE expenses originated. This authorization expires on July 1, 2022. (Reference House Bill 529, 2019, and Vermont Statutes Title 32, Chapter 7, Section 604)
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Code Reporting
On or before December 1, 2019, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (Agency) must submit a report to the legislature that provides an update on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) progress toward adopting a code on EVSE and makes a recommendation for an annual licensing fee for EVSE available to the public. If NIST has not adopted a code on EVSE by December 1, 2020, the Agency must submit an additional report on or before that date which provides an update on NIST’s progress toward adopting a code. (Reference House Bill 529, 2019)
Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Incentive Analysis
On or before October 15, 2019, the Vermont Agency of Transportation must complete a study and submit a report to the legislature determining whether to implement a rebate program for individuals to purchase or lease fuel-efficient vehicles that is funded by fees collected from individuals that purchase or lease inefficient vehicles. The report must also assess how this incentive program could function with other Vermont incentive programs to reach the plug-in electric vehicle goal in the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan. (Reference House Bill 529, 2019)
Volkswagen Settlement Allocation
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources must select projects and distribute funding to leverage 15% of Vermont's portion of the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust for the purchase of light-duty vehicle electric vehicle supply equipment. The remaining funding must be allocated towards projects that replace eligible vehicles and equipment with all-electric technologies or convert them to all-electric. (Reference House Bill 16, 2018)
Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Sales Requirements and Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Standards
Vermont has adopted the California motor vehicle emissions standards and compliance requirements specified in Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations. These regulations apply to new vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 14,000 pounds. Manufacturers must meet the greenhouse gas emissions standard and the ZEV production and sales requirements. (Reference Vermont Air Pollution Control Regulations 5-1101 through 5-1109)
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Acquisition Requirements
Effective July 1, 2019, the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services (Department) must, to the extent possible, purchase or lease HEVs or PEVs for state use. At least 50% of the vehicles purchased or leased annually must be HEVs or PEVs. Beginning July 1, 2021, at least 75% of the vehicles purchased or leased annually must be HEVs or PEVs. The Department must acquire the lowest-cost make and model that meets the State’s needs. (Reference House Bill 529, 2019, and Vermont Statutes Title 29, Chapter 49, Section 903)
Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Deployment Support
Vermont joined California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support the deployment of ZEVs through involvement in a ZEV Program Implementation Task Force (Task Force). In May 2014, the Task Force published a ZEV Action Plan (Plan) identifying 11 priority actions to accomplish the goals of the MOU, including deploying at least 3.3 million ZEVs and adequate fueling infrastructure within the signatory states by 2025. The Plan also includes a research agenda to inform future actions. On an annual basis, each state must report on the number of registered ZEVs, the number of public electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and hydrogen fueling stations, and available information regarding workplace fueling for ZEVs.
In June 2018, the Task Force published a new ZEV Action Plan for 2018-2021. Building on the 2014 Action Plan, the 2018 Action Plan makes recommendations for states and other key partners in five priority areas:
- Raising consumer awareness and interest in electric vehicle technology;
- Building out a reliable and convenient residential, workplace and public charging/fueling infrastructure network;
- Continuing and improving access to consumer purchase and non-financial incentives;
- Expanding public and private sector fleet adoption; and
- Supporting dealership efforts to increase ZEV sales.
For more information, see the Multi-State ZEV Task Force website.
Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Testing and Operation Requirements
AVs may be operated on public highways for testing purposes if there is a licensed vehicle operator seated in the driver's seat monitoring the safe operation of the AV and capable of taking immediate manual control of the vehicle in the event that the automated driving system fails. Before an AV may be tested on public highways, the Vermont Traffic Committee (Committee) must approve a permit application that defines the scope of the test and demonstrates the ability of the AV tester to comply with testing requirements. An approved AV tester is required to submit a report to the Committee annually, including information about AV safety, traffic operations, interaction with roadway infrastructure, and any public comments, until testing is complete.
By January 1, 2021, the Vermont Agency of Transportation will publish an Automated Vehicle Testing Guide that includes a list of municipalities that have preapproved the testing of AVs in their jurisdictions. An AV is defined as any vehicle that is equipped with a technology that has the capability to operate the vehicle without the direct control of the driver.
Support for Autonomous Vehicles
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) assembled a meeting of public and private stakeholders on November 8, 2017, to discuss raising awareness regarding the opportunities and challenges of autonomous vehicles. Topics of discussion included:
- Autonomous vehicle registration and inspection;
- Autonomous vehicle education, training, and operator licensing;
- Insurance and liability;
- Enforcement of autonomous vehicle laws;
- Autonomous vehicle testing;
- Emergency response;
- Autonomous vehicle infrastructure needs; and the
- Social, economic, and environmental impacts of autonomous vehicles
Natural Gas Tax
Natural gas used to propel a motor vehicle is not subject to the state gasoline tax, but is subject to state sales and use tax. (Reference Vermont Statutes Title 32, Chapter 233, Section 9741, and Title 23, Chapter 28, Section 3101)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Analysis
The Vermont Public Utility Commission (Commission) must evaluate PEVs and PEV charging in the state. The Commission must provide public notice, opportunity for submission of written comments, and one or more workshops on PEVs before the evaluation is conducted. In its report, the Commission must include analysis and recommendations on the following topics regarding electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) owned by electric utilities:
- Removal of barriers to EVSE installation, including strategies to reduce operating costs for EVSE users;
- Strategies to manage the impact of PEV charging on the electric transmission and distribution system;
- Strategies to facilitate the services provided by PEVs to the electric transmission and distribution system;
- Benefits and costs to the electric system of PEV charging, electric utility planning for PEV charging, and rate design for PEV charging; and
- The role of electric utilities with respect to the deployment and operation of EVSE.
- How and when these EVSE stations will obtain electricity;
- Safety standards for EVSE;
- The role of the Commission and other relevant state agencies in managing these EVSE;
- Regulations, if any, on pricing structures for EVSE, including transparency to the consumer of any rates or prices; and
- Billing and complaint procedures for EVSE.
- Options for PEV drivers to contribute toward the cost of maintaining the State's transportation infrastructure;
- The accuracy of electric metering and submetering technology for PEV charging;
- Strategies to encourage PEV adoption and achieve the State's Comprehensive Energy Plan and greenhouse gas reduction goals; and
- Any other topics that the Commission believes are relevant to fair, cost-effective, and accessible PEV charging.
Support for Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Adoption
The Vermont Climate Action Commission (VCAC) was established to evaluate actions that the state can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors of the economy, including transportation. VCAC published its Final Report on July 31st, 2018, which recommends that Vermont take the following actions to increase PEV adoption:
- Reduce the purchase cost of PEVs;
- Increase the availability of electric vehicle supply equipment;
- Increase public awareness of PEVs and their benefits.
State Agency Energy Plan Transportation Requirements
The Vermont Agency of Administration developed and oversees the implementation of the State Agency Energy Plan (Plan). The Agency of Administration must modify the Plan as necessary and re-adopt it on or before January 15 of each fifth year. As specified in the 2016 Plan, the Vermont Agency of Transportation must continue to use 5% biodiesel (B5) in its fleet of heavy-duty vehicles. The Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services will increase its deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) to comprise at least 25% of its light-duty fleet by 2025 and install electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), as necessary. All state agencies must install EVSE and increase their use of PEVs to a level that will displace 10% of their gasoline use by 2020.
Carbon Reduction Procurement Policies
The Vermont Agency of Administration and the Climate Cabinet must revise state acquisition policies to ensure consideration of vendor business practices that promote clean energy and address climate change. Policies should consider, for example, the use of and support of plug-in electric and zero emission vehicles, including providing workplace charging stations. (Reference Executive Order 05-16, 2016)
Idle Reduction Requirement
A driver may not idle a motor vehicle for more than five minutes in a 60-minute period. This limit does not apply if the vehicle is operating an auxiliary power unit, generator set, or other mobile idle reduction technology. Additional exemptions apply. Additionally, all driver education courses must include instruction on the adverse environmental, health, economic, and other impacts of unnecessary idling and on the law governing idling of motor vehicles. (Reference Vermont Statutes Title 23, Chapter 13, Section 1110 and Title 16, Chapter 23, Section 1045)
School Bus Idle Reduction Requirement
School bus operators must turn off the bus engine immediately after arriving at a student loading and unloading area located on school grounds, and may not start the engine until the bus is ready to leave the school grounds. In addition, operators may not idle the engine for more than five minutes in a 60-minute period on school grounds. Exceptions include periods when the engine is necessary to operate special equipment for disabled persons; to address safety, traffic, health, or emergency concerns; or to service the vehicle. (Reference Vermont State Board of Education Rules and Practices 6001 through 6005, and Vermont Statutes Title 23, Chapter 13, Section 1282)
Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) Access to Roadways
An NEV is defined as an electric vehicle that is designed to operate at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour (mph); carries up to four people; has at least four wheels and a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds; and conforms to the minimum safety equipment requirements as adopted in Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500. An NEV may only be used on roads with a posted speed limit of up to 35 mph. The operator of an NEV may cross a highway that has a speed limit of up to 50 mph if the crossing begins and ends on a road authorized for use by NEVs and the intersection has a traffic control signal. The State Traffic Committee or the legislative body of a municipality for town highways may prohibit NEVs from crossing specific intersections in their jurisdiction if the decision is made in the interest of public safety. (Reference Vermont Statutes Title 23, Chapter 1, Section 4, and Title 23, Chapter 13, Sections 1007a and 1043)