Library filed under Energy Policy from Vermont
MANCHESTER — According to town officials, when it’s 12 days until Christmas and temperatures are in the 50s, it’s time to do something about global warming and Manchester is taking an unprecedented step. On Wednesday, the Select Board voted to approve a budget for 2007 that includes two new budget items, both for $6,145. The first will be a ballot item asking voters to contribute money to offset the carbon dioxide emissions created by the town’s energy use. The second would pay for the town to study and implement ways to reduce energy.
Shumlin, the new president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate and a lifelong resident of Windham County, says one thing Vermont can do to fight global warming is to generate more of its own electricity — and clean energy. Windham County has long hosted the state's largest power generator — Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, he noted. Vermont Yankee, which is owned by the Louisiana power conglomerate Entergy, has provided about one-third of all the electricity consumed in the state. But Shumlin says it's time that Vermont started generating more electricity from wind power, the debate about aesthetics aside. Southern Vermont has hosted the state's only operating wind facility, he noted, in Searsburg in neighboring Bennington County. While the scale of the current generation of wind facilities is substantially bigger than the 198-foot tall Searsburg towers, aesthetics will have to take a back seat, he said. "I think it's a moral imperative to use them," he said of the wind turbines.
Although the approach is too late for projects that have already begun a federal review process, a dozen New England congressmen and senators have asked for help from the Department of Energy in coordinating a regional approach to siting liquefied natural gas facilities. Reps. Tom Allen and Mike Michaud have both signed on to this request, which makes sense for future energy projects.
New England will need to add power plants capable of generating 4,300 megawatts, and $3.4 billion of additional transmission investment, by 2015 to avoid blackouts, the region’s grid operator says. The area will need 170 megawatts of new power before the summer of 2009 to assure adequate supplies, according to ISO New England Inc., the power grid and wholesale market operator that serves the region’s 14 million people........ If a 1,000 megawatt coal or nuclear power plant had been installed in 2005, buyers in the wholesale market would have saved $600 million in power costs, the report said.
Hydro Quebec (HQ) and Entergy/Vermont Yankee (VY) combine to provide Vermont with over 60 percent of its base load power, 24 hours per day 7 days per week, 365 days a year. Together, they represent safe, reliable and very clean sources of electric power. Renewables (i.e., small hydro, small wind, methane), efficiency and demand side management programs should be our first choice for new energy sources but, cannot realistically be relied upon to fill the enormous gap that would be created if VY’s license is not renewed beyond 2012 and the HQ contract is not renewed by 2016.
Wind Turbines drew a big contrast. Parker supports large scale wind projects. "The other thing we need is a governor who isn't opposed to large scale wind development. The state of Vermont is losing tax revenue, it's losing the opportunity of having a part of its portfolio from wind energy." Douglas does not support large wind projects. "This is a very controversial topic, lets face it, I think its very important as we move forward we respect everyone's point of view and have a civil discussion about the role of wind in our energy future."
The Update to the 2005 electric plan frames issues within the statutory directive provided by the legislature in 30 V.S.A. §202, which requires that the electric plan ensure, . . . to the greatest extent practicable, that Vermont can meet its energy service needs in a manner that is adequate, reliable, secure, and sustainable; that assures affordability and encourages the state’s economic vitality, the efficient use of energy resources and cost effective demand side management; and that is environmentally sound.
Despite similar conservation ethics in their personal lives, Douglas and Parker disagree about each other’s competency to lead the state through the energy obstacle course that lies ahead.
Electric power has re-emerged as a significant issue in this year’s political campaigns, and will probably continue to play a large role in campaigns over the next few election cycles. In large part that is because the state is facing huge changes regarding where its power comes from and how much it will pay for it.
The Free Press Editorial Board is asking candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and governor five questions about issues in their campaigns. Their answers will appear on the Opinion and Forum pages through this month. The series continues today with candidates for governor of Vermont. You can also follow the series online at www.burlingtonfreepress.com. Go to the Opinion page and click on "Where they stand."
Two very different versions of where Vermont is headed in environmental and energy policy were set out by Republican Gov. James Douglas and Democratic challenger Scudder Parker Monday night as the candidates met in their first debate centered on the environment. In Douglas’ Vermont, the state has made significant strides during his term in office in protecting the environment while easing the complexity of regulatory appeals. While not solved, the state is on its way to figuring out where it will get its electricity in the future, in Douglas’ view.
Under the agreement, ISO New England will project regional power needs three years in advance and hold annual auctions to buy power resources, including new and existing power plants. Incentives would encourage private operators to respond to power system emergencies, and operators that don't make extra capacity available would face penalties.
The group of executives at the state’s largest employers talked about the state’s energy future. The track record to date isn’t bad. Vermont has the least expensive electric power in New England, due to low-cost sources at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and Hydro Quebec. But there’s concern about what happens after Vermont Yankee’s license expires in 2012 and Hydro Quebec contracts expire after that. Chris Dutton, president at Green Mountain Power Corp., posed the question that dominated the meeting. “What are we going to do when we think about replacing our base load resources?” Vermont’s base load power from large sources that run 24 hours a day, like Vermont Yankee, provide mostly clean, non-polluting energy. The debate continues over how large a role that renewable sources, like wind power, could play in the future. The Business Roundtable says some, but not all.
Vermont's energy future has become a hand-wringing issue, tangled up in the uncertainty of power sources and worries about climate change. Quebec Premier Jean Charest offered another opinion Friday, a more optimistic view. Just north of the border in his province, billions of dollars are being invested in renewable energy -- hydro-electric and wind -- and Quebec wants to increase its power exports. Vermont, which relies on Hydro-Quebec for a third of its electricity, has been a longtime, valued customer and Quebec would expect to continue that relationship, Charest told an audience at Champlain College in Burlington. "We will be there in times of need for each other," he said, referring to shared energy and environmental concerns. Such words, albeit with no specific price tag or contract attached, send an encouraging message to Vermont.
Governor Douglas: "Well I support renewable but I think we have to weigh all the pros and cons and on balance I think it is more of an intrusion then we want. The Green Mountain State would have to be renamed the Green Mountains with white Industrial Turbines state."
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- More than 100 candidates for federal, state and local offices in Vermont have signed onto a plan by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group to reduce dependence on foreign oil and emphasize renewable sources of electricity. VPIRG asked 329 political candidates across the state to sign their pledge and 111 signed the document while 27 candidates provided position papers, which support similar goals.
The current hype surrounding wind energy is just that and is a costly distraction from securing clean energy that is also reliable.
VPIRG’s advocacy of industrial wind energy is misplaced – the issue is emissions not ‘renewables’ per se.
Gov. Jim Douglas took his clearest position yet on industrial wind projects in Vermont on Friday, saying they would be "an imposition" on Vermont's landscape. Industrial wind turbines on ridge lines would not aesthetically suit Vermont's small scale landscape, Douglas, a Republican, said at a brainstorming session with leaders of large and small businesses Friday afternoon at the Gateway Center. To give up Vermont's brand for an energy source that could only produce 6 percent of Vermont's energy needs isn't a good idea, Douglas said. "I can't make the case there's enough gain for the pain," he said. "I just don't think it's worth it."
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The state Department of Public Service has announced that it and the state's two largest power companies will make available $980,000 in grants to support small solar and wind power projects.