VPIRG’s Director Paul Burns on House passage of H.468 – the clean energy bill

For immediate release
March 22, 2012

Paul Burns
Phone: 802-793-1985

What this bill boils down to is getting real clean energy projects built in Vermont. We’re grateful to the House of Representatives for moving this legislation forward. It demonstrates that a large majority of House members are serious about taking control of our energy future in a responsible way.

This bill isn’t everything we’d hoped for, but it’s a big step in the right direction and it will help to ensure a positive legacy of clean energy for our children and grandchildren.

Press Release


  1. Kelly Stettner :

    “Green” energy is a misnomer. What Vermont needs is efficient, reliable energy that comes from a source that is easy to replenish and does not contribute to pollution. Wind and solar are neither efficient (on a large scale) nor reliable yet; biomass is a joke (it’s inefficient and a huge emitter of pollution). Please be clear about your specific recommendations and how they will be implemented. Maybe it’s time for a paradigm shift away from centralized to small-scale energy generation.

  2. Renewable energy in Vermont is not about CO2 emissions reduction; Vermont already has one of the lowest emission rates per capita and per $ of GSP. Vermont’s CO2 emissions are primarily from buildings and transportation. Hence, increased energy efficiency should be done first.
    RE is about building RE businesses; one Vermont, multi-millionaire, solar oligarch told me: “I am trying to build a business here…..”. VPIRG splitting off a privately-owned solar entity, headed by former VPIRG leaders, will depend on subsidies and write-offs to succeed. Those businesses would not exist without federal and state subsidies.
    Rules and regulations are changed, such as the RPS, so that these RE businesses can sell their intermittent, variable, uncompetitive, expensive, not-so-CO2-free energy to utilities that are required to buy it at high above-market prices that are 3 to 5 times annual average grid prices.
    The resulting rate increases are much larger than they need to, because the extra costs, including for transmission and distribution, the utilities incur are rolled into the rate schedules.
    The utilities will come out ahead, because they will likely be rewarded with larger than usual rate increases for their cooperation with the state.
    The defenseless, already-struggling, poorly-organized, easily-swayed households and businesses that are trying to cope with the multi-year Great Recession and the flood damage of Irene will bear the brunt of the burden; higher energy costs, increased costs of goods and services leading to lower living standards, lower profits and lower tax collections.
    Subsidies usually SHIFT jobs from one sector to another; there is little NET job gain; there may be even be net job losses. 
    In a slow-growing economy, the subsidized job creation in inefficient, expensive-energy-producing renewables sectors will result in up to 3.7 times the job destruction in other sectors due to scarce capital being diverted from more productive uses, such as energy efficiency, and due to more expensive energy increasing the prices of goods and services. 
    There are numerous studies performed in Spain, Germany, Denmark, The UK, etc., and performed by the Department of Public Service, VT-DPS, that show for each job created in renewables, there are 2 to 5 jobs lost in the private sector.
    Good RE job creation?: wind turbines from Denmark and Spain (Lowell, Sheffield, etc.); PV panels from China; inverters from Germany. Wind turbine O&M is usually done by out-of-state specialist companies.
    So-so RE job creation?: mostly assemblers installers



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