Articles filed under Energy Policy from Vermont
The Department of Public Service agreed Thursday to support Entergy’s plan to spin off Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant into a new subsidiary called Enexus. In July, the DPS urged the Vermont Public Service Board not to issue a certificate of public good unless certain conditions were met. Those conditions included the status of the plant’s condenser and its back-up power transformer, the decommissioning fund, on-site spent fuel handling costs and a power purchase agreement.
Right now, the state is in limbo regarding renewable energy development. As Vermont has seen relatively little development of renewables, the guidelines for what is and isn't acceptable are less codified than in states already hosting thousands of megawatts of wind or solar installations. ...renewable energy is an area where thorough regulation of an industry is valuable, and our state has exactly the regulatory climate and environmental cachet to do the job.
Last week, the New England Governors' Conference raised green fantasy to new heights with the release of its Renewable Energy Blueprint, which said the region "has a significant quantity of untapped renewable resources, on the order of over 10,000 MW combined of on-shore and off-shore wind power potential." Neither the report nor the news articles about it bothered to do the math. At 7 MW, New England would need 1,429 E-126s to tap that potential. Though the turbines likely would be clustered in "farms," that's an average of 238 per state, or more than one for each town in Connecticut. The cost would be $221 billion that the states don't have, though they might get a bulk-purchase discount of a billion or two.
Vermont's energy future could become clearer in the coming months, with key decisions possible by year's end on the relicensing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and on the renewal of utilities' contracts with Hydro Quebec. Together, Yankee and HQ provide about two-thirds of the electricity currently consumed by Vermont residents and businesses.
Dozens of environmental and renewable energy contractors flocked to a day-long session at the Statehouse Friday with the Vermont Public Service Board to hear about a new state law aimed at stimulating the development of green energy. The renewable program, which became law without Gov. James Douglas' signature, clears away some regulatory hurdles for the creation of small green energy-generating sources in Vermont.
Wind turbines should not be portrayed as the most reliable, cleanest and cheapest source of energy. The changes to our scenic landscape will not be minimal. Why do we have to watch the value of our property decrease and our beautiful ridgeline be destroyed? A few business people with a profit motive should not rush through an approval process that sacrifices the natural beauty of Vermont for decades or forever.
The Republican governor stood in his ceremonial Statehouse office and explained to reporters exactly why he opposed a major renewable-energy bill supported by environmental groups that was on track to be approved by the Vermont House. "I strongly support renewables, but we can't do it in a way that adds to the cost of living in this state," said Douglas
The number of proposed wind farms under active development in Vermont has reached a new peak. If built as proposed - a big "if" - the five projects could provide up to nearly 7 percent of the state's electrical energy. ...Wind-energy projects are required to win a certificate of public good from the state Public Service Board, which weighs the impact of development on a long list of environmental factors, aesthetics, noise and more. Opponents can take part in the hearings and appeal the results.
A renewable energy bill has cleared one House committee, but is drawing questions about whether it's too generous toward wind and solar power developers.
The bill calls for wind-power developers to get 20 cents per kilowatt-hour for the power they send to the grid; solar-power developers would get 25 cents. Lawmakers said the disparity was due to the differences in costs faced by those setting up the systems. An official with the state's largest power company, Brian Keefe of Central Vermont Public Service Corp., said he remained concerned about how the legislation would affect customers, due to the relatively high cost of the power.
The Burlington Electric Department announced Tuesday that it will buy 40 percent of the power and renewable energy certificates from a Sheffield wind farm at a fixed price for the next 10 years. The agreement with Vermont Wind moves BED toward its goal of generating electricity through renewable sources within the next "four or so years," BED general manager Barbara Grimes said.
Wind energy advocates want the Douglas administration to lift its ban on large-scale wind projects on state-owned land. The advocates say Vermont needs to explore all options as it looks for new energy resources. But Governor Jim Douglas remains opposed to the idea VPR's John Dillon reports:
The state has many choices for electricity other than the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, but they may be more costly and could increase the state's carbon emissions, an energy consultant told lawmakers. Vermont does not need to develop its own power sources to replace the Vernon reactor, because utilities could get the power from outside the state.
Replacing the energy supplied by Vermont Yankee with 100 percent renewable energy sources could cost Vermont more than $1.2 billion ..."This portfolio of renewable resources would cost approximately $73 per megawatt hour (MWh) to develop and operate and would be more expensive than (building a) new fossil fuel generation plant," stated Scott M. Albert, a principal of GDS Associates and the region manager of the firm's Northeast office, in Manchester, N.H.
In July, the Bay State's House passed a resolution in support of efforts to have independent safety assessments conducted at nuclear power plants in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. ...The Legislature also resolved that it's time the nation begin its transition "away from nuclear power to an affordable, clean and sustainable national energy policy." ..."I understand the concerns raised by the Commonwealth," wrote Samuel J. Collins, an NRC regional administrator, in response to the resolution. "However, I feel it is necessary to address some of the statements and assumptions conveyed in that document to dispel any misconceptions you may have ..."
Now that Ms. Symington says she wants 20 percent of Vermont's electricity in 10 years from windmills, here's how to bring that dream to fruition.
Vermont should consider building a series of medium-sized power generation projects rather than one major facility, and renewable energy projects will likely play a large role ...David O'Brien, Vermont's commissioner of public service, said the study is another step in planning the state's energy future. "There's a strong desire in Vermont to have more of our power produced in the state," he said. O'Brien said the results of the study dove-tailed well with recent work asking Vermont residents where they wanted their electricity to come from. It remains to be seen how much of the state's electricity will be produced by renewable projects, he said.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gaye Symington set up the debate with her simple proposal to drive the use of wind power in Vermont from 0.2 percent to 20 percent in 10 years. A far-fetched goal that's just too simple to realize? The response was swift from David O'Brien, the state Public Service commissioner. He used one word to define Symington's idea: "irresponsible." Symington's suggestion may in fact be "irresponsible." Yet we're all adult enough to probe probabilities ...
Do not pull the plug on Vermonters. The Democrats have this great desire to close down Vermont Yankee. The latest buzz is windmill power. It's clean, it's green and Al Gore loves them.
"While wind power is a popular and growing source of electricity generation in the United States ... it continues to face regulatory obstacles and local opposition," stated the Vermont Energy Partnership report. "And while there is clear potential for an expansion of wind in the State of Vermont, even fully developed, wind can only meet a fraction of the state's electricity needs. To ensure that Vermont has a dependable supply of clean and low-cost electricity, base load providers such as Vermont Yankee and HydroQuébec must continue to serve our state into the future," stated the report.