Library filed under Energy Policy from Vermont
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.
Despite goals that require the growth of new renewable energy projects, towns and advocates say lawmakers have not taken up meaningful legislation on how and where to better build solar and wind projects. Hallquist said the state may need to revisit its renewable energy goals if communities continue to push back against renewable energy developments.
Towns would have more regulatory authority over solar energy projects under a proposal in the Senate. The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee added a provision to the state’s renewable energy bill, H.40, that allows towns to adopt bylaws requiring solar developers to comply with setback and screening requirements.
Wind projects take longer to develop than solar, and they can face stiff opposition from the public. And experts say the federal tax credits that are keeping the solar industry on track have been uncertain for wind developers for some time.
RESET will continue SPEED’s tradition of unintended consequences. It will affect the Vermont economy for decades. RESET’s Tiers 1 and 2 will impose renewable electricity requirements on utilities without reforming the destructive and abusive siting practices that have turned so many Vermonters against state government.
More than 100 people turned out for a Vermont Statehouse hearing Tuesday on growing concern that the state's push to build renewable energy is causing aesthetic and other environmental problems.
Key Vermont lawmakers are saying that with about six weeks to go in the this year's Statehouse session, it's likely legislation to retool the way Vermont sites solar, wind and other renewable energy projects will take until next year to see action.
In its zeal to approve every single telecommunications tower and renewable energy project in the state, the PSB is fabricating its own interpretations of the law regardless of the standards of the local community and it is allowing the scenic beauty of Vermont – that was so carefully protected over so many years – to become degraded.
In a long-awaited draft ruling, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority found Vermont’s renewable energy credits are acceptable despite some claims that Vermont RECs are “double counted.” The credits represent the environmental attributes of electricity generated from renewables such as wind and solar.
The overall bill, H.40, establishes new standards for renewable energy in Vermont, requiring that by 2032, 75 percent of electricity sold in the state come from such sources as wind, solar and biomass. Much of the bill found broad support, because it would avert an estimated 6 percent increase in electric rates expected as Vermont utilities struggle to sell renewable energy credits to neighbors with different standards.
The Vermont House has advanced a wide-ranging bill that pushes utilities beyond electricity to help customers save on heat and could resolve criticism that the current state program to promote renewable energy double-counts its results.
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.