Articles filed under General from Vermont

House adopts tax policy that wind developers say they need

Most industries don't like new taxes, but developers of wind energy projects welcomed one Thursday that would be imposed on their turbines. They just weren't crazy about the rate established in a bill that was endorsed by the House. They said they were glad the proposal would offer predictability about what their tax bills would be from one year to the next, but they would seek a lower rate when the bill is considered in the Senate. "It's a tax certainty," said Andrew Perchlik, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont. "It allows wind farmers to know exactly what their tax is going to be. We feel the number the House is coming up with is too high."
5 Apr 2007

House endorses tax to encourage wind development

The Vermont House has endorsed a new policy that advocates say would encourage development of wind energy projects. The policy would tax the wind generators based on the amount of power they produce instead of taxing them on their fair-market value as real estate. Advocates say that makes their annual tax predictable and makes financing of the projects easier. They do argue with the rate set by the House. Lawmakers set it at a half-penny for every kilowatt hour produced. But advocates say it should be a third of a penny. The renewable energy bill containing the wind tax won preliminary approval today and is due for final debate in the House tomorrow. Then it will be taken up in the Senate, where advocates hope to lower the tax rate.
5 Apr 2007

Tax how much the wind blows?

The latest chapter in the ongoing controversy of siting turbines on Vermont ridge line is unfolding in the House as lawmakers wrangle over setting a tax rate that wind farms will pay into the education fund. At the heart of the debate is how far the state should go in using taxes as an incentive to spur wind development.
4 Apr 2007

Lawmakers walk the line on energy

The words "global warming" never appear in H. 520. Climate change is mentioned just once in S. 94. Yet, both bills are at least partly the product of three weeks of testimony on those issues. Listening to that testimony in January, Sen. Virginia Lyons said one thing stuck out: The easiest way to save energy was through efficiency. "That was a very loud and clear message from Day 1, and it resonated," said Lyons, a Chittenden County Democrat who chairs the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. "I had an inkling it was a low-hanging fruit."
18 Mar 2007

Vermont House bill proposes renewables goal of 25% by 2025

The Vermont state legislature committee on Natural Resources and Energy introduced a bill to the House on March 15 relating to the conservation of energy and the generation of electricity in the state through renewable resources. In addition to proposing a goal of producing 25% of the state's energy with renewable energy sources by 2025, the bill seeks to establish a "wind-based electric generation facility tax." Furthermore, a revision has been included in the bill to allow net metering for systems up to 250 kW and to set a 2% cap on the amount of net-metered energy companies must accommodate.
16 Mar 2007

Scientists must keep passions in check

The environmental movement has begun to approach scientific issues with a similar zealotry typically found in religious fanaticism. A case in point: global warming................We need skeptical scientists to keep public and political passions in check. Otherwise, we devolve in our thinking to the point where unverified beliefs, held strong enough, can become idolatry.
12 Mar 2007

Only Moonlight for Vermont?

A truly "bold," environmentally conscious state would go nuclear even more. Burlington will only really be the "best of" Green Places when local postcards show its charming leafy streets, with a view of Lake Champlain -- and a nuclear power plant looming in the background.
9 Mar 2007

Head Of School To Testify Against UPC Wind Project

Karen Fitzhugh, head of the King George School in Sutton, will testify against a proposed wind farm in neighboring Sheffield. However, she will not be testifying on behalf of the private school but on behalf of the town of Sutton. “I thought her testimony was important to the town of Sutton,” Daniel Hershenson, a lawyer hired by the town to fight the project, said Wednesday. The school had indicated Fitzhugh would testify, if subpoenaed, he said. One was issued Feb. 12, he said. Fitzhugh is out of town until next week and was unavailable for comment. Fitzhugh has been an outspoken opponent of the project at public hearings, but has never testified under oath before the state Public Service Board. That was the reason the PSB ruled Fitzhugh’s claim that the school would close if the wind farm was built was inadmissible and based on hearsay.
3 Mar 2007

Familiar faces seek Castleton board seats

Patrick Eagan is trying to rejoin the Select Board. Eagan, 66, served several years on the board and was chairman when he resigned in 2000. At the time he said he took his recent primary defeat in a legislative race as a vote of no-confidence from the town. The following year he lost to Thomas Ettori, who had been appointed to replace him. This time, Eagan is running for one of the pair of one-year seats on the board against incumbents James Leamy and Stephen Williams Sr. "I follow the town," Eagan said. "I still represent the town on the transportation council. People called, asked me to run — several people. I had a concern personally about the wind towers. I'd like to be in a position to listen and give input." Eagan said he was leaning toward favoring the wind farm and was concerned about anti-wind activists coming to town from other parts of the state. "I think the main thing is to listen to the local people," he said.
28 Feb 2007

Wind project seeks state approval

In a time when political and geological uncertainties can make the cost of fossil fuels fluctuate wildly, wind power could offer a steady and predictable alternative source of electricity. At least this is the argument made by the developers of a proposed wind turbine project in the towns of Readsboro and Searsburg. Depending on the number and type of turbines built, this could amount to a 45-megawatt electric generation facility.
27 Feb 2007

Developers get very different receptions in N.Y., Vt

This is a story about two men who forged a friendship at a nuclear power plant protest and then went on to collaborate on several sustainable energy projects, including three of the best known modern hydro projects in Vermont, over a 30-year period. Recently, the two separately embarked on wind projects in New York and Vermont. The fate of these projects couldn’t be more different: The New York wind turbines will be built this summer, while the East Haven Wind Farm in the Northeast Kingdom is effectively dead.
25 Feb 2007

PSB prehearing conference on National Forest windplant

Public Service Board (PSB) - Rescheduled Prehearing Conference - RE: Docket #7250, Petition of Deerfield Wind, LLC, for a certificate of public good authorizing it to construct and operate up to a 45 MW wind generation facility, and associated transmission and interconnection facilities, comprised of between 15 and 24 wind turbines on approximately 80 acres in the Green Mountain National Forest, located in Searsburg and Readsboro, with turbines to be placed both on the east side of Route. 8 on the sa.m.e ridgeline as the existing GMP Searsburg wind facility (Eastern Project Area), and along the ridgeline to the west of Route 8 in a northwesterly orientation (Western Project Area) PSB, Hearing room, 3rd floor, Chittenden Bank Building, 112 State St., Montpelier.
25 Feb 2007

Developers and Industrial Wind Turbines

Industrial wind turbines capture the imagination because they are a visible symbol that we are doing something about the environment. But in fact they are a boondoggle. They have a negligible effect on the environment, while wasting money that might be better spent elsewhere, damaging Vermont's rural landscape (itself a significant economic asset) and transferring a ton of money from the pockets of Vermont taxpayers to the bank accounts of the developers.
21 Feb 2007

Industrial Wind Energy--for what purpose? at what cost?

The current craze for wind towers is just that--a craze. Understandably, we are concerned about carbon emissions and energy security. Wind towers are a visible symbol that we are attempting to do something. Unfortunately, they are a hollow symbol. Like Don Quixote, we are obsessed by windmills, except that instead of attacking them, we are building them. Fifty miles of wind towers crowning Vermont's ridgelines will cost residents and taxpayers a fortune, but they will do nothing to reduce carbon emissions or secure energy supplies. We should put our money and our effort into less damaging and more productive solutions, such as conservation and the development of clean coal technology.
21 Feb 2007

Northeast, Canada moving toward more-efficient energy

On his way back from a meeting of Canadian and New England officials in Quebec City, Gov. James Douglas said by telephone Monday the group agreed to pursue increased use of renewable, more-efficient energy and cleaner transportation. But Douglas also said that Vermont should move cautiously on several of the proposals outlined in the group’s recommendations. For instance, although the New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers recommended unifying renewable portfolio standards laws across the region, Douglas said it may be premature for Vermont to enact such a law itself. Vermont passed a law in the last Legislative session pushing utilities to meet increases in power use through new renewable power projects. However, unlike a renewable portfolio standard, Vermont’s statute does not require the purchase of “green credits” from such renewable projects unless those goals are not met. Several other states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, have laws setting up markets for selling green credits, and some lawmakers would like Vermont to follow suit. “We have done well and will continue to do well to develop our renewable portfolio without a specific Legislative mandate,” Douglas said. “I think it may be premature,” to pass such a law in Vermont, he added............Douglas said that he remains opposed personally to the development of most large-scale wind projects along the state’s ridgelines. But regulators will enforce the criteria and statutes that exist independently of his feelings about the projects, Douglas said. “I don’t believe the pain is worth the gain in many of these proposed projects,” he said. “I respect that process, regardless of my personal view.” “I think it would make a dramatic difference in our pristine ridgelines,” Douglas added. “I am not persuaded it should be a large-scale strategy for our energy future.”
15 Feb 2007

Big wind project divides Northeast Kingdom communities

Up here in sparsely settled Northeast Kingdom, Sheffield Wind has touched off a bitter debate engulfing residents and town governments in half a dozen communities that will share unequally in the wind farm’s costs and benefits. What Sheffield selectmen see as a boon to their tiny community, other towns see as a threat to their scenic beauty, tourism, economy and property values.
11 Feb 2007

Sheffield wind hearings: Will people warm to wind towers?

Questions of whether noise measurements have anything to do with real life, and if people can warm to the appearance of towering wind towers animated two days of testimony here before the Public Service Board (PSB). Aesthetic arguments against wind farms have made little headway before the board in the previous two cases presently on record — Searsburg and East Haven Wind Farm. Yet past results have not diminished the polarizing role they are playing in a bid by a Massachusetts’s company, UPC, to put up a wind farm on the ridge lines in Sheffield.
9 Feb 2007
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