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What the department’s new approach fails to recognize is that UPC’s wind towers — at 420 feet tall on top of ridgelines in Sheffield — will be the most prominent feature on the ridgelines for miles around for residents and visitors of numerous locations, not just Sheffield and Sutton. The compromise might show respect for the decision-making process, but it fails to respect the real impact of these industrial giants on Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
We need leadership and clarity on this divisive issue. Before we’re at the stage where wind companies are seeking approval from the Public Service Board to build their individual projects, the state needs an overall energy plan, a vision. The state should follow up on its promise of a public engagement process on energy to educate and inform Vermonters about energy choices and tradeoffs.
Recently, Senate Bill 771, which would set up a study committee in the legislature to formulate statewide performance standards for industrial wind turbines, died in the House of Delegates without even the courtesy of a committee vote. As you will recall, this proposal by Senator Edwards received a favorable Senate Finance Committee vote and a 45-0 vote from the full Senate. This means that there are no safety, health or environmental protections against industrial wind turbines at the local or state level.
Friday, in a text book example of bad governance, the House of Representatives passed by the slimmest of margins what is believed to be the largest tax bill in United States history. Not a single one of the 219 representatives who voted for it knew exactly what was in the bill.
The major part of the bill is its Cap and Trade provisions.
The domestic auto industry isn't the only uncompetitive industry that seems to require life-sustaining transfusions of government cash to stay in business. Alternative energy sources have relied on such subsidies, called "investments," for years.
Yet in President-elect Obama's announcement of his energy team, we were told "the foundations of our energy independence" lie in "the power of wind and solar." ...After decades of tax credits and subsidies, wind provides only about 1% of our electricity. By comparison, coal provides 49%, natural gas 22%, nuclear power 19% and hydroelectric 7%.
Still, as fast as wind power is growing, the renewable energy source contributes only a fraction of the world's total power production, generating just 1.5% of electricity globally.
The same day as the Worldwatch figures came out, Peabody Coal, the world's largest coal company, announced record earnings, making it clear that coal, which provides roughly 40% of the world's electric power, is still king.
With the stroke of a pen, an uninformed governor named John Baldacci sacrificed the natural art work that millions of individuals had grown to love. Maine's landscape was destroyed because of a bill called LD 2283 which sacrificed an entire state to the wind industry.
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Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell recently had a tête-à-tête to discuss how B.C. could assist California in dealing with its energy crisis. At the same time, the California Utilities Commission gave Pacific Gas and Electric US$14 million to explore renewable energy sources in B.C. and the feasibility of a new transmission corridor stretching from B.C. to the Golden State.
Conspicuously absent from the self-congratulatory press releases about co-operation between the jurisdictions in pursuing a "green" agenda was the most important issue: Who will own - and benefit from - the development of B.C.'s renewable energy?
A closer look at the B.C. government's wind energy policies reveals an enormous giveaway of literally billions of dollars in wind farm assets and future public revenues to private power developers. Yet there has been virtually no public discussion of the scope and cost of the government's wind energy policies.
The problem with the green revolution argument is that it doesn't trouble itself about efficiency. It is most often lauded for supplying new jobs, but billions of dollars in tax subsidies would create plenty of new jobs in almost any sector. The point is that many less-capital-intensive sectors would create many more jobs for a given investment of taxpayers' money.
Similarly, green initiatives will open new markets only if other nations subsidize inefficient technologies bought abroad. Thus, the real game becomes which nations get to suck up other nations' tax-financed subsidies. Apart from the resulting global inefficiency, this also creates a whole new raft of industry players that will keep pushing inefficient legislation simply because it fills their coffers.
There are so many other questions out there that need national answers. Are biofuels in general really worth the cost to the environment and the economy? Does wind power cut it when you compare the rising cost of oil with the construction costs of a large scale wind farm? Can we make more effective use of photovoltaics, lowering the price and producing solar energy in bulk for the grid? And, how much do we need to spend on energy efficiency to make it really effective without blowing a gaping hole in our gas and electric bills?
This nation will be better served if our candidates spend more time proposing the development of a national Green Energy Agenda. Simply saying you're Green doesn't make it so.
New Interior Secretary Ken Salazar went overboard when he said Monday that windmills off the East Coast could generate enough electricity to replace most, if not all, of the coal-fired power plants in the country. ...it's impractical to think that the coal-fired power industry -- which supplies about half of the nation's electricity -- could be displaced by wind turbines.
Another week and another war of words is being waged over our green and pleasant land. Last Thursday, Prince Charles told the Oxford Farming Conference that the countryside is "as precious as an ancient cathedral". Former poet laureate Andrew Motion, railed against the government's relaxation of planning rules that is threatening "our spiritual connection to woodland and wilderness".
Nowhere is this battle more heated than over the subject of wind turbines.
It is remarkable Maryland has proceeded so far without a benefit / cost assessment. Even though the whole point is to reduce electric power system emissions, there has been no evaluation of the impact of the wind farm on electric power system CO2, SO2 and NOx emissions. There has been no evaluation of system-wide cost; how much will Maryland offshore wind increase electric bills?
Recently, Gov. Pawlenty signed a renewable energy standard in Minnesota. While proponents claim this standard will protect Minnesota’s environment and resources and help reduce global warming is only rhetoric and not fact. This initiative will cost you the taxpayer millions and produce no positive impact in Minnesota.
At this writing, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and other lawmakers are haggling over the final details of AB 32, a sweeping measure meant to establish California as the world leader in reducing the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Schwarzenegger wants not just hard caps on emissions but a market-based system in which incentives are created for businesses to reduce emissions through trading of pollution credits. Núñez is lukewarm on such a “cap and trade” system.
Here's our recommendation to the governor: Quit negotiating and simply veto whatever measure comes your way.
We aren't mere nimbys. In addition to resisting change that doesn't work, we adjacent landowners and residents of surrounding towns are saying "no" for very substantive reasons. Wind energy projects have a very large footprint and very real impacts. The 16-turbine Sheffield Wind Project would result in 7.5 miles of wide ridgeline roads, destruction of 62 acres of high-elevation forest, degradation of stream water quality and a large expanse of forestland being fragmented. Impacts to birds, bats, bears and other wildlife would be substantial.
What Vermont is lacking,
however, is leadership on the controversial matter of wind turbines on
mountain tops. The state's ridgelines are the wrong place to put
330-foot-tall wind towers.
AS 10 years have passed since I was denied a voice in the House of Lords, may I seek space to pose an alternative to the unparalleled acts of rural vandalism being perpetuated by wind farms? As European leaders now recognise the use of low-energy light bulbs in combating global warming, the government has good reason to switch the subsidy of taxpayers millions of pounds, away from monstrous wind turbines, of spasmodic and doubtful benefit, into making such bulbs more price-competitive, ensuring greater and more immediate impact on climate change. No-one dares to confess how long it takes wind turbines to recoup the carbon emissions caused by their manufacture, transport, site preparation, roads and transmission lines.
It must be obvious to the greenest of green protagonists that wind farms are the least reliable and cost-effective ways of saving the planet, as compared with tidal power, better insulation, warmer clothing, slower driving speeds and low-energy light bulbs.
Does anyone else hear an echo of the ethanol boom from three summers ago? ...All of this makes the effort to erect two giant wind farms in Boone County, the state's second-windiest locale, worth watching. Putting in the 300-foot turbines is one thing in sparsely populated Benton County, but as Boone County's executive director of the area plan commission, Steve Niblick, said: "We are different than other counties with wind farms."
For years, Premier Dalton McGuinty has made an art of dividing rural Ontarians from urban. Now he's gone one better, seeking to split the wealthiest rural landowners, those with lakefront property, from the rest of us. It's a breathtaking display of cynicism and a move that, in pure political terms, is clever.
Shell, the oil company that recently trumpeted its commitment to a low carbon future by signing a pre-Bali conference communique, has quietly sold off most of its solar business.
The move, taken with rival BP's decision last week to invest in the world's dirtiest oil production in Canada's tar sands, indicates that Big Oil might be giving up its flirtation with renewables and going back to its roots. ...The oil group said it was continuing to move its renewables interests into a mainstream business and hoped to find one new power source that would "achieve materiality" for it. Shell continues to invest in a number of wind farm schemes, such as the London Array offshore scheme, which has government approval. Shell has also been concentrating its efforts on biofuels, but declined to say whether it had given up on solar power even though many smaller rivals continue to believe the technology has a bright future.