Library filed under Energy Policy from Vermont
Wednesday brought the biggest show of force yet by Vermonters upset with the state’s siting process for energy projects. What has in recent years been a relatively small group of wind opponents has grown into a legion of people worried about wind and solar, including town leaders from across the state.
The bills would ban any wind energy project with a capacity of 500 kilowatts or more -- like existing projects in Sheffield and Georgia Mountain -- though small individual turbines would still be allowed. Strong and Rodgers cited the impact on the environment as well as the preservation of Vermont’s scenic resources as their motivations for pushing for an industrial wind ban
“We’re supposed to write our plans so that, if we plan for renewables they tell us we have to have, we’ll get greater standing at the Public Service Board — why didn’t that happen before? Because it is the state mandating, and that’s not what we need,” Smith said. ...Vermonters want renewable energy, Smith said, and legislators must trust that localities will site renewable energy projects without the heavy hand of state government requiring that they do so.
There’s a far better way to defeat Big Wind in Vermont. Big Wind developers are crucially dependent on an array of federal tax subsidies. The vital one is the production tax credit that gives the wind farm owner 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of power delivered. Impose a 2.3-cents-per-kilowatt-hour environmental protection tax on every new industrial-sized wind project in Vermont. That will exactly cancel the major federal subsidy that makes Big Wind profitable. Result: Vermont will never see another Big Wind project again.
If the RECs are sold separately, a Vermont solar investor is getting what the attorney general calls "null electricity," and what Bender called "residual mix" from the New England grid, which as of last year was 39.4 percent natural gas-generated and 34 percent nuclear.
Kevin Jones, deputy director at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, said most Vermonters don't understand that when a solar panel's renewable energy credits (RECs) are sold, the owner of that solar panel no longer draws renewable energy from it for their own use. Unscrupulous marketers capitalize on this ignorance, Jones said.
The process by which energy projects are developed in Vermont is broken. To regulate development, we have the Public Service Board, whose members seem to have been appointed by the governor to further his agenda and policies. We have a Public Service Department that serves the governor, not the public. We have legislators who write policy to serve the very utilities and energy developers that finance their campaigns.
Companies designing projects to bring clean electricity to southern New England say they’re grateful Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have finally made a request for proposals to carry that power to the region. But meeting the region’s longer-term goal of expanding the use of renewable electricity from wind, solar and hydroelectricity will require more transmission capacity than the states requested, said Edward Krapels, the CEO of Anbaric Transmission, which is proposing one project in Maine and another Vermont.
The vast building and subsidizing of renewable energy facilities throughout Vermont will not affect climate change. ...By following these policies we will not pass on to the next generation a Vermont that is one iota cooler or more stable than it otherwise would be. It will be, however, uglier, less accessible, more expensive, and harder to find a job. Talk about a call to burn down the village in order to save it!
Washington -- Aggressive energy efficiency efforts and new distributed generation capacity -- virtually all of it in the form of solar projects -- are combining to put a lid on growth in peak demand and electric use in New England, ISO New England said in its newly released 2015 Regional System Plan.
The group drummed outside the rally, advocating against a recently proposed wind turbine project in Swanton. They want lawmakers to re-evaluate the pace and size of the renewable energy projects popping up across Vermont. Specifically, the group believes people and families living near the sites of these projects are being overlooked in the development.
NO BENEFIT: Renewable energy requirements in Vermont will lead to the construction of more wind farms in the state, but it may have no impact on the nation’s carbon footprint.
At the first public hearing for Vermont’s updated energy plan, audience members criticized the siting of wind and solar projects, and the plan’s policy expert told Vermont Watchdog going completely green will have no impact on global warming.
New England’s most populous states are looking to tap Canadian dams and rivers for more of their electricity, a change that officials say would help cut greenhouse-gas emissions and help keep some of the nation’s highest power prices in check.
Sally Collopy and Penny Dubie, the wife of former Lt Gov Brian Dubie, were among the protesters in front of the conference center holding signs opposing wind turbine construction on ridgelines. In Swanton, there is a proposal for a project with seven 499-foot tall turbines. “It just makes no sense at all,” said Collopy, holding a sign that said “We are victims of industrial wind.”
"We don't see how this project fits in," said Mary Powell, chief executive officer of the state's largest electric company, Green Mountain Power. "We are in really good shape for our customers with wind." Ditto Vermont Electric Cooperative, the state's second-largest utility. According to director of government affairs Andrea Cohen, VEC has no plans to buy new wind-generated energy. Nor does the Burlington Electric Department.
HYDRO REC SCAM?: Under Vermont’s new renewable portfolio standard, utility companies can meet state goals using cheap hydro-electric renewable energy credits that neighboring states won’t buy and don’t recognize as renewable.
According to Blittersdorf, whose business stands to profit handsomely from the 25 megawatts of new renewable power generation required each year for the foreseeable future, Vermonters can expect to see solar and wind farms everywhere across the state. His industry plans to install 6,000 megawatts of solar capacity and 3,000 megawatts of wind to meet Vermont’s goals — a sharp increase from the roughly 100 megawatts of renewable energy generation today.
The closing days of this legislative session saw several senators try to give town and regional commissions a stronger voice in land use decisions by introducing an amendment to H.40, a new bill focused on energy policy. The goal of the amendment was to replace the tepid requirement that the board give “due consideration” to town and regional plans with a requirement for “substantial deference.” ...both Sens who represent Windham, Grafton and Townshend — the towns now facing a proposal to install up to 30 industrial wind turbines on their shared ridgelines — voted to deny their constituents even this modest statutory standing.
The bill, H.40, would resolve that concern, allowing utilities to continue earning about $50 million in revenue from the sale of RECs. The bill repeals Vermont’s current incentive program, known as SPEED, and for the first time sets mandatory renewable energy targets. Double counting would not be allowed. This is similar to energy policies in all other New England states.