Articles filed under Energy Policy from Vermont
We haven't seen yet a convincing case that large-scale wind energy can play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions in Vermont, which would be the only rational basis for sacrificing a landscape that plays such an important role in the state's economy and self-identity. And the ability of towns to exert some control over their destiny when it comes to development is not something that should be lightly overridden.
Senate Bill 30 is being pushed by critics of wind projects that they say have been damaging Vermont's mountaintops without significantly reducing the state's greenhouse gaCampbell said the delay was partly in response to a letter he received from Jeff Wolfe, owner of GroSolar, who threatened to work to unseat Campbell if he voted for the bill. Because Campbell would be presiding over the Senate on Wednesday, he couldn’t vote on the bill, which he did not want to be interpreted as cowering to the threat.s emissions.
Requiring the Public Service Board to enforce Act 250 criteria, the state's governing land-use law, which relies heavily on town plans, was also a substantial change, Hartwell said. While the Public Service Board already considers Act 250 criteria, the quasi-judicial body is not required to conform with the land-use law, according to Hartwell.
What is needed is a new process that works toward our goal of a fossil fuel free future; determines the best way to achieve that goal taking into consideration human health, the environment, and other factors; and respects the right of local Vermonters to control their future in their own homes.
There is one reason that the Energize Vermont plan does not rely on ridgeline wind: uncertainty. We are uncertain about the impacts of industrial ridgeline wind on health, wildlife and wildlife habitat. We are uncertain about its impacts on the economy, tourism and property values. We are uncertain about the amount of electricity that industrial wind produces, its cost, and its effect on grid stability. Finally, we are uncertain that industrial wind turbines produce a meaningful reduction in Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions.
The underlying issue in New England is that gas pipeline capacity is inadequate to keep prices steady in times of high home heating demand, said Vamsi Chadalavada, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ISO New England. ISO is leading a study focused mainly on reliability, but reliability is intertwined with price, he said.
But what is most concerning to me is that Bernie's comment on this issue has shown me a different side of Bernie. That is, his total disregard for well-documented facts; his digging his heels in and using his influence to blindly push this agenda forward; and his inability to consider the benefits of taking a reasonable pause to allow time to learn the truth. This leads me to ask: Is this the way Bernie approaches all the decisions he makes in Washington?
Unfortunately, both Sen. Sanders and climate activist Bill McKibben have greatly exaggerated the national policy and global environmental harm that a three-year Vermont ridgeline wind moratorium could have. Additionally, in attacking the moratorium they have unwittingly embraced a decade of failed Vermont renewable energy policy.
Volz said it would be difficult for the Public Service Board to ensure the state’s energy needs are met, if the board lost the power to permit energy generation projects. “Projects being proposed by Vermont utilities for the purpose of maintaining reliability should stay with the Public Service Board,” he said.
"The damage is physical in terms of geological and hydrologic effects. It's biological in that it destroys critical habitat and migration routes," he said. "And it's aesthetic and cultural, not least in that it has caused deep divisions in the environmental community. These divisions play directly into the hands of corporate interests whose roots are outside Vermont."
Sanders said he was weighing in on a state legislative issue - which Vermont's federal representatives usually avoid doing - because of the potential impact of the state's action on the national debate.
After substantial discussion of the issue, the VLCT Board voted to support the position that the PSB be required to give substantial consideration to municipalities, by at least: requiring any decision on the project address the local concerns raised in the local decisions.
A rare shake-up in Senate committee assignments Thursday bounced Sen. Virginia Lyons out as chairwoman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee she has led for many years, and put in her place a leading proponent of a statewide moratorium on wind development. Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington, was appointed to chair the committee.
“We shouldn’t permit ourselves to be pressured by corporate, mostly out-of-state entities, while we take that time,” said Hartwell. “We shouldn’t be allowing our cherished mountains, our cherished history to be destroyed while we take that time. We shouldn’t involve ourselves in social upheaval while we take that time. For that reason, a bipartisan effort … is being made to make sure we back up the train, set the reset button and redefine a conversation with Vermont’s history and environmental proactivism involved in the discussion.”
"And I think the reason you're seeing folks come around on this issue is that members are beginning to see projects proposed in their districts, and so are beginning to understand what it actually means for their constituents," he said. Senate President John Campbell says the vote count in favor of the moratorium could be as high as 18.
The Vermont Senate is likely to consider a moratorium when the Legislature convenes in January, Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell said. He supports a two-year moratorium and said a growing number of senators do. "I believe for two years we should look at what we expect Vermont to look like," Campbell said.
The PSB recommends that the renewable energy credits be retired - and not re-sold to polluting power companies. The board says that because RECs are sold in the regional market, utilities in other states can use them to offset their own emissions.
The five commission members, whose report is due in April, are trying to keep their sessions inclusive of all forms of energy generation and focused on the Public Service Board process. But at the commission's first two meetings, the audience has been dominated by supporters and opponents of wind energy development.
Hallquist said it just makes sense to focus on the real causes of Vermont's carbon production -- oil and gasoline -- than burn so much political energy battling over wind and solar energy. Both are much higher in cost than the market rates for electricity today, and both carry a high cost in dividing communities that would otherwise be supportive of a less-intrusive energy source like geothermal, Hallquist said.
A new state commission has begun to wade into the contentious debate over where Vermont builds energy projects. Critics say the state's ridgelines are at risk from industrial-scale wind development. But the panel will confine its review to the permitting process and will not examine the state's overall goals for renewable energy.