Articles from Vermont
GMP still doesn’t seem to get what this is all about. This is not just about being more transparent and honest with its customers, though that would be a welcome change. Even more importantly, this is about whether GMP’s policy of selling RECs, which is perfectly legal under Vermont’s flawed SPEED program, is reducing Vermont’s carbon footprint. The truth is that it is not.
The Federal Trade Commission will not open a formal investigation into Green Mountain Power’s marketing of renewable energy, but it is cautioning Vermont’s largest power company to be clear in its communications with the public.
Lawmakers will take up a new policy for siting energy generation projects in Vermont, but not as part of the state’s new renewable energy program, said Rep. Tony Klein, chairman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
If the state doesn’t set new rules for renewable energy generation, ratepayers could face a $50 million increase in electricity rates, a roughly 6 percent rate hike statewide. In Burlington, rates could go up as much as 20 percent. Officials also say SPEED will not satisfy the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.
“The way to go forward and reduce your carbon at the least expensive rate is maximize your solar, do big wind on ridgelines and back it up with natural gas,” he said. Wind energy development has proven intensely controversial. The regional planning commission serving the Northeast Kingdom is considering a moratorium on large wind projects. The area already hosts two ridgeline wind developments, in Sheffield and Lowell.
The executive committee for the Northeastern Vermont Development Association voted unanimously to recommend that the regional planning commission oppose future wind projects. The recommendation must be approved by the commission’s board of directors.
Vermont is considering a change to its energy policy that would end a practice that critics say amounts to double-counting the environmental benefits of its renewable sources of power.
VCE (Vermonters for a Clean Environment) asked the U.S. District Court to block the permit granted by the Forest Service or send it back for further environmental study. At a hearing in Brattleboro in July, VCE attorney Stephen Saltonstall argued that the Forest Service was ignoring the National Environmental Policy Act and the potential harm to the view, the bats that live in the area and the nearby George D. Aiken Wilderness.
After living in the shadow of the 16 industrial turbines at the Sheffield wind site near their modest year-round home, a former camp that has been in Steve’s family since the 1970s, the family has been relocated with help from supporters of the anti-wind cause to a mobile home in Derby. ...The family has enemies because of its continued, public outcry — including testifying at the State House — about how the wind project has impacted their health and the health of their children, Seager, 5, and Baily, who turns 3 next month.
Springer said the administration is trying to preserve some aspects of the Vermont SPEED program, which allows utilities here to sell renewable "credits" that out of state companies buy to meet their states green energy mandates. Those sales have amounted to about $50 million a year, money the utilities say has helped reduce rates. If those sales dry up, ratepayers could pay the price.
Vermont policy to promote renewable energy is at a turning point. The Legislature will soon debate whether the state should adopt a set standard for the amount of renewable energy utilities here must use. At stake in the debate is how - and how much - Vermonters will pay for renewable energy.
It has been predicted that when the year 2050 arrives, Vermonters will be using 90 percent renewable energy and the world will be well on its way to controlling climate change. I doubt that, and here’s why.
The Lowell wind opponents, which formed in reaction to the Lowell wind project called Kingdom Community Wind, said a wind turbine capable of producing 1.5 megawatts of electricity should be cited at least 1.25 miles away from a home. "For larger turbines the distance must be further and should be at the property line, not the dwelling," the group stated in its comments about wind monitoring and standards. The Lowell turbines are larger.
Green Mountain Power will be required to constantly monitor sound coming from wind turbines, which could provide the most detailed assessment yet of a noise issue concerning some residents living near wind farms. The Vermont Public Service Board fined the utility $1,000 last week for exceeding sound limits it placed on the Kingdom Community Wind farm, which was approved in 2011.
The Legislature next session will decide whether electric utilities should be required to sell renewable energy to customers, rekindling a debate over the price Vermont consumers will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ...Under the state’s current voluntary goal, utilities are allowed to sell renewable power credits out of state to reduce electric rates.
Board member John Burke disagreed with colleagues James Volz and Margaret Cheney on the fine. "I would have preferred a substantial fine be imposed on GMP and would not have ordered the continuous monitoring," Burke said in a dissent. "While the only winner then would have been the state's general fund, all the parties would begin to realize that working on noise issues is important and that more is gained by working together than by the 'my way or the highway' attitude that appears to have prevailed here."
Big Wind has a big public relations problem. A new WCAX poll shows public support for wind plummeting from 66 percent in 2013 to 50 percent now.
Out of 653 registered voters, half of those asked were in favor moving forward with wind power development. 41% favor a moratorium for a few years to allow for further study.
The circular logic of REC market fundamentals would have low REC pricing jeopardizing future development. As renewable energy project profit margins get squeezed, fewer projects will be built and forward REC prices would rebound as forward supply tightens.The worry is that offshore wind projects could break this self-correcting market logic in the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL).
What about renewables? For many reasons, renewable build-out is not happening very quickly. As of last year, less than 10 percent of Vermont’s in-state electricity generation was by renewables, not counting hydro. Also, renewables are generally paired with natural gas (gas-fired plants are turned on when the wind dies down or the sun sets). So renewables are not going to be much help right now.