Articles filed under Energy Policy from Vermont
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - How loud wind turbines can run has been whipping up debate for years.
The committee is reviewing a proposal drafted by the Public Utility Commission, which regulates energy projects in Vermont. PUC Commissioner Margaret Cheney and staff members defended the proposed noise standards before lawmakers at the Statehouse. They said they strike a balance between desirable wind energy and the health of Vermonters who would be subject to the low-middle frequency sounds emanating from machines nearly 500-feet tall.
Representatives of five transmission projects proposed in July in response to the Massachusetts solicitation for 9.45 TWh/year of hydro and Class I renewables (wind, solar or energy storage) tried to explain why their projects should be among those selected in January. Contracts awarded under the MA 83D request for proposals are to be submitted in late April.
The committee’s charge is rather to ask a fairly narrow set of questions about a rule, Benning said, including whether it meets the intent of the legislation that enabled it, whether the rule is arbitrary, and whether its potential economic effects are adequately described. Benning said he’s satisfied the rule meets all these criteria.
Rather, said CEO Christine Hallquist, the explosion of such projects in that region has overwhelmed the utility’s distribution network to the point that wind turbines are already being forced on some days to curtail energy production in order not to overload the grid.
A key aspect Act 174 is that it allows regions and municipalities more influence over siting wind, solar, hydro or other energy facilities during the Public Service Board permitting process, if they have a certified plan in place.
During the meeting, the most contentious issue was the setback provision, which sets the distance between turbines and homes at 10 times the height of the turbine. Also discussed were proposed decibel sound limits of 39 dBA (A-weighted decibels) at night and 42 dBA during the day. By the end of the morning, the committee voted to push the deadline for adopting new rules back to October.
It's all likely to prove academic, since LCAR is almost certain to vote down the rules sometime after leaf-peeping season. At that point, the PSB would have to resume work on a new set of rules. Given the fact that the board and the Scott administration take a dim view of ridgeline wind and most legislators are in favor of renewable energy including wind, it's going to be very tricky to find a set of rules acceptable to all parties.
The DPS requested that the board “reject the proposed sound monitoring protocol and require Deerfield Wind to submit a revised protocol” that includes the department’s suggested changes. The department’s stance was echoed by the Wind Action Group and Thomas Shea, who owns property in Searsburg and is an intervenor in the project permit process.
But Scott believes Vermont can do its part on climate change without wind turbines on scenic ridgelines. He is sticking to a campaign pledge to seek a moratorium on large wind energy projects.
Back in the 1960s, Yale psychology professor Stanley Milgram conducted a research experiment whose results shocked the nation. Participants were told that they were taking on the role of “teacher” in a study of methods to improve learning. An authority figure told the “teacher” to administer increasingly powerful electric shocks to a “learner” in the next room whenever a question was answered incorrectly. There actually were no shocks and the learner was part of the research team, but the “teacher” heard increasing cries of pain with each “shock” administered. Even as the intensity of the shocks approached the maximum of 450 volts, the authority insisted that the shocks should continue – that the anguished screams, the banging on the wall, the pleas about heart conditions, and ultimately the ominous silence from the other room should all be ignored.
The Public Service Board has issued its draft rules on wind turbine sound that, if adopted, would put much stronger restrictions on wind development in the state.
“Vermont cannot afford to have its rates skyrocket in the name of renewable energy,” Ethan Allen Institute President Rob Roper told Vermont Watchdog. ...In a commentary posted on EAI’s website, Roper calls S.51 the “Let’s Destroy the Economy Bill” and raises an important question:
The siting of industrial wind projects could be a key issue during the 2017 legislative session, because Gov.-elect Phil Scott wants lawmakers to enact a two-year moratorium on all large, ridgeline wind proposals.
The Northeastern Vermont Development Association is under the gun to adapt its regional energy plan to meet new standards so towns have a say over siting energy projects.
Green energy projects are often said to be cost-effective, but one of the financial aids that makes them viable has lost significant value, and appears to be on the verge of collapsing.
As Vermont races to become the nation’s first all-green-energy state, reports that municipalities are reaching the goal may be overblown.
“This is David Blittersdorf and company, VERA (Vermont Environmental Research Associates), attempting to market wind power to Connecticut for no benefit to Vermont,” said Smith. “Why Blittersdorf is just fanning the flames of opposition and just infuriating people more, I don’t understand it.”
New standards on large scale wind projects in Vermont will give towns a voice in where they are built, but opting out entirely won't be an option.
Facing the possibility that voters here may reject the proposal, putting a damper on large-scale wind development in Vermont, Iberdrola last week put cash on the table for individual voters. Many residents called the offer an attempt at undue influence, if not an outright bribe.