GlobalFoundries exterior
GlobalFoundries’ offices Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Vermont’s Public Utility Commission has denied GlobalFoundries’ request to become a self-managed utility, which would have exempted the company from the state’s climate laws

Last April, the international semiconductor manufacturing company filed a petition with the commission to make its Essex Junction facility, called “Fab 9,” an independent energy utility. 

Rather than purchasing energy from Green Mountain Power, GlobalFoundries would have bought its energy from the regional wholesale market, processing it through its own conductors. 

GlobalFoundries is the largest private-sector employer in the state. It uses 8% of the state’s electricity — more than the city of Burlington. 

Vermont’s renewable energy standard requires the state’s utilities to purchase an increasing amount of energy from renewable sources. The state’s 2020 Global Warming Solutions Act requires Vermont to meet certain emissions reductions in the coming years. The resulting Climate Action Plan recommends that the state pass legislation that would require utilities to get 100% of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. 

In its request to become its own utility, GlobalFoundries sought to free itself from the renewable energy standard. The Public Utility Commission ruled that it doesn’t have the authority to provide that exemption. 

“The Commission’s authority to regulate certain aspects of GlobalFoundries’ proposal does not confer on us the authority to release GlobalFoundries entirely from Vermont’s retail distribution utility model and allow its operation as a self-managed utility not subject to the (renewable energy standard),” the order says. 

GlobalFoundries could move forward, but it will need to do so within the bounds of the renewable energy standard unless the Legislature allows a specific exemption for the company, the order says. GlobalFoundries will need to notify the commission of its decision by mid-March.

Gina DeRossi, a spokesperson for GlobalFoundries, said the company is “disappointed with the decision and are now in the process of assessing the impact and next steps.”

“The PUC made the right call today,” Chase Whiting, a staff attorney for the Vermont Conservation Law Foundation, said in a statement. “Allowing GlobalFoundries to skirt the state’s climate laws would set us back years in reaching our pollution reduction goals. This would be nothing more than an illegal loophole for a wealthy corporation, and officials saw right through it.”

VTDigger's environment reporter.