More than 100 renewable energy and associated Vermont businesses urge legislative action

For immediate release
April 24, 2012

Contact
Gabrielle Stebbins
Renewable Energy Vermont
[email protected]
802 229-0099

More than 100 renewable energy and associated Vermont businesses urge legislative action

MONTPELIER, Vt — Demonstrating the size and diversity of Vermont’s renewable energy economy, more than 100 businesses that work in the renewable energy industry are urging legislative action before the session closes on a package of clean energy legislation.

In a letter led by Renewable Energy Vermont to Governor Peter Shumlin, Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, and lawmakers, the businesses urged passage of five House-passed, bipartisan bills, stating that “our industry is growing andit is strong,” but “to remain competitive, we need to continue to foster a strong local industry.”

The letter continued, “Vermont has worked hard to develop our in-state, clean energy economy. Now is not the time to let this effort slide, letting the wave of the future move on to other states and countries. Predictability and pro-growth policies are vital to our continued success.”

Large renewable energy companies such as groSolar, Northern Power Systems, AllEarth Renewables, Sunward Systems, Draker Laboratories, and NRG Systems collectively employ hundreds of Vermonters directly. But the letter also included dozens of small, medium and large businesses that derive work from Vermont’s clean tech industry, including local installers from all corners of the state, large construction companies such as J.A. Morrissey Inc. and Engineers Construction Inc. (ECI), electrical companies,contracting companies, developers, and design and marketing firms.

“The wide appeal for legislative progress demonstrates the depth and breadth of Vermont’s renewable energy economy. Everyday our business works with dozens of other Vermont businesses. When we are busy, they are busy. But we need to have pro-growth policies in Vermont that make this economic activity possible,” said Brett Pingree of Northern Power Systemsin Barre.

Vermont recently ranked number one in the nation for “green jobs,”but industry experts say that study misses thousands of businesses engaged in the state’s renewable energy economy.

“Vermont would do well to look just across its borders and see the growth and job creation from other states’ pro-renewable energy policies. We can’t take our in-state industry for granted,” said Ben Gordesky of DC Energy Innovations in North Hero. “The best part of our industry is that not only do we create good jobs, we also make available to Vermonters clean, renewable energy for decades to come.”

The text of the full letter and signers is here:

An Open Letter toVermont Elected Officials

Dear Vermont Leaders,

As renewable energy businesses and businesses that derive work from the renewable energy sector, we ask for your attention to energy legislation before the end of the session.

Our industry is growing and it is strong. Vermont just dropped below 5% in unemployment, with a hefty portion of that being green jobs. Vermont has worked hard to develop our in-state, clean energy economy. Now is not the time to let this effort slide, letting the wave of the future move on to other states and countries. Predictability and pro-growth policies are vital to our continued success. To remain competitive, we need to continue to foster a strong local industry.

Before this legislative session ends, please ensure passage of:

· House passed net metering bill (H. 475)

· House passed Property Tax Certainty for State and Renewables Developers and Customers (H. 679)

· House passed CEDF funding (H. 782)

· Senate passed streamlined permitting for small existing hydro (S. 148)

· House passed “Energy Bill” (H. 468)

We recognize how busy this time of year is. Please: ensure that Vermont continues to build towards our collective future of locally-made, clean energy.

Thank you for your consideration,

Acorn Energy Co-op, Middlebury

Advanced Solar Heating Systems, Rutland

Aegis Wind, Waitsfield

AllEarth Renewables, Williston

Alumni Solar, South Hero

Backspring Renewables, Middlebury/Weybridge

Biebel Builders, Windsor

Black River Produce, North Springfield

Bobcat Café, Bristol

Bright Lite Electric, Windsor

Building Energy, Williston

CalcoGreen LLC, Waitsfield

Catamount Solar, East Montpelier

Coburn’s General Store, South Strafford

Community Hydro, Plainfield

Concept 2, Morrisville

Cottage 10, Hinesburg

Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury

CRL Solar LLC, Hartford

Daniels Transportation, White River Junction

DC Energy Innovations, North Hero

Draker Labs, Burlington

E&S Electric, Colchester

Encore Redevelopment, Burlington

Energy Co-op of Vermont, Colchester

Engineers Construction Inc., Williston

Forward Thinking Consultants, Richmond

Foxfire Energy, Chittenden

Fresh Tracks Capital, Shelburne

Friends of the Sun, Manchester

Gary MacArthur Solar, Marlboro

Graybar, Rutland

Green Earth Energy, Brandon

Green Energy Times, Bradford

Green Toolbox Consultants, Warren

Green Works Solar Store, St. Johnsbury

Grennon’s Solder Works, Bristol

GroSolar, White River Junction

GWR Engineering, Charlotte

Hand Energy Services, Manchester

Hand Sun and Solar, Manchester

Harvey|Severence, Burlington

Hebert Excavation, Williamstown

Hempfully Green, Putney

Hidden Springs Maple, Putney

Independent Power, Hyde Park

Integrated Solar, Brattleboro

Interstate Mountain Company, South Hero

J. A. Morrissey, Williston

J.W. & D.E. Ryan Inc., Vergennes

James T. Davis Construction, Arlington

L.W. Seddon LLC, Montpelier

Landworks, Middlebury

Larkin Realty, Burlington

Leunig’s Bistro, Burlington

Livingston Farm Landscape Products, Bristol

LN Consulting, Winooski

Maclay Architects, Waitsfield

MC Autoworks , Strafford

Mergus Analytics LLC, Jericho

Metruk’s Electrical Contracting, Underhill

Northeast Wind (a VERA business), Waterbury

Northern Power Systems, Barre

NRG Systems, Hinesburg

One Sun Vermont, South Hero

Peck Electric, Williston

Phelps Engineering, Middlebury

Pill-Maharam Architects, Shelburne

Points North Energy, Stowe

Positive Energy, Poultney

Prudent Living, Windsor

PV Solar Associates, Berlin

Real Goods Solar, Montpelier

ReArch Company, South Burlington

ReKnew, Hartford

Renewable Energy Vermont, Montpelier

ResTec, Bridgewater Corners

Rich Keus Construction, Arlington

Robert’s Plumbing and Heating, Milton

RSD Companies Inc., White River Junction

RSD Leasing, White River Junction

RSD Transportation, White River Junction

RSD Warehouse, White River Junction

Saxtons River Solar Electric, Saxtons River

Small Dog Electronics, Waitsfield

Sojourns Community Health Clinic, Westminster

Solar Pro, Arlington

Solarfest, Tinmouth

Solartech, Sutton

Solarwind Electric, Bradford

Soulmate Socks, Strafford

Southridge Neighborhood Association, Middlebury

Stephanie Lahar and Associates LLC, Montpelier

Stone Soup Restaurant, Strafford

Suncatcher, Corinth

SunCommon, Waterbury

Sunrise Solar Services, Rutland

Sunward Systems, Vergennes

Sunwood Biomass, Waitsfield

Sustainable Energy Resource Group, Thetford Center

Sustainable Solutions, Marshfield

Teamswork, Shelburne

Timberline Electric Inc., Williston

Triland Partners, Williamstown

TruexCullins Architecture + Interior Design, Burlington

Twin Birches Ltd, Middlebury

USA Solar Store, Perkinsville

Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Burlington/Barre

Vermont Solar Engineering, Burlington

Vesco Energy Services, South Burlington

VT Solar, Burlington

Watson Research, Fairfield

West Windsor West Corp., Windsor

Willis North America, Burlington

Wolfe Energy, Strafford

Woodstock Aqueduct, Woodstock

Comments

  1. Patrick Cashman :

    It would be interesting to see an analysis of what other methods some of the energy companies listed here use to influence the political process. Perhaps an examination of those who are heavy hitters when it comes to political contributions such as Mr. Blittersdorf of NRG and All Earth Renewables who has contributed $140,000 to federal campaigns and soft money organizations since 2007 (source opensecrets.org Donor Lookup, $160,000 if you include Jan Blittersdorf’s donations) and $13,500 to state races in the 2010 election alone (source Common Cause Vermont Master Contributer Rollup). Or perhaps those groups that offer high paying positions to former politicians, such as Vermont Energy Investment Corporations $107,000 per year salary to Scudder Parker for “Consulting” (source VEIC 2010 Form 990 viewable through Guidestar.org). Perhaps including advocacy organizations that engage in the same conduct, such as High Meadows Fund’s employment of Gaye Symington for $80,000 ($105,420 including all compensation)(source High Meadows Fund Form 990 viewable through Guidestar.org).

  2. A much more economically-viable and environmentally-beneficial measure to reduce CO2 would be increased energy efficiency. A 60% reduction in Btu/$ of GDP is entirely possible with existing technologies. Such a reduction would merely place the US on par with most European nations.

    It would be much wiser, and more economical, to shift subsidies away from expensive renewables, that produce just a little of expensive, variable, intermittent energy, towards increased EE. Those renewables would not be needed, if we use those funds for increased EE.

    EE is the low-hanging fruit, has not scratched the surface, is by far the best approach, because it provides the quickest and biggest “bang for the buck”, AND it is invisible, AND it does not make noise, AND it does not destroy pristine ridge lines/upset mountain water runoffs, AND it would reduce CO2, NOx, SOx and particulates more effectively than renewables, AND it would not require any distribution network buildouts, AND it would slow electric rate increases, AND it would slow fuel cost increases, AND it would slow depletion of fuel resources, AND it would create 3 times the jobs and reduce 3-5 times the Btus and CO2 per invested dollar than renewables, AND all the technologies are fully developed, AND it would end the subsidizing of renewables tax-shelters mostly for the top 1% at the expense of the other 99%, AND it would be more democratic/equitable, AND it would do all this without public resistance and controversy.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/46652/reducing-energy-use-houses
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61774/wind-energy-expensive
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/64492/wind-energy-reduces-co2-emissions-few-percent
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/71771/energy-efficiency-first-renewables-later

    • Rob Macgregor :

      You stated-“Those renewables would not be needed, if we use those funds for increased EE.”

      And so then we can keep right on mining or blowing up mountains for the coal, fracking for natgas, mining for uranium and subsidizing all of those sources without any interference from those pesky renewables advocates?

      Is this what you’re proposing? Seriously? Business as usual with a bit of conservation thrown in?

      Where is the electricity that we will inevitably continue to use supposed to come from? You can’t conserve yourself out of some kind of continued production at a significant level. But business as usual, minus the amount that can be conserved? Best you can come up with?

      • Townsend Peters :

        Mr. Post isn’t serious about energy efficiency. He only seems to write about it in response to renewable energy proposals, and he omits to mention the tens of millions of dollars the state already puts into electric energy efficiency programs.

        Aside from transportation, the state’s biggest need for energy efficiency is thermal, that is, heating and cooling buildings. There were several bills introduced in the Vermont legislature this year to support thermal energy efficiency, ranging from funding it through a tax on fossil heating fuels to requiring each seller of real property to disclose to prospective buyers the building’s energy performance.

        But you don’t see Mr. Post pushing those bills or, if he disagrees with their particulars, coming up with real alternatives.

      • Townsend,
        Below are some articles that show I am more serious about EE than RE.
        Please read them. They have been available on THE ENERGY COLLECTIVE for some months, as are about 22 of my articles.

        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/46652/reducing-energy-use-houses
        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/71771/energy-efficiency-first-renewables-later

      • Rob,
        The low hanging fruit is EE.
        It should be done BEFORE RE for the reasons I stated.
        The mining of coal, gas, nuclear, etc., would be less, if the US uses 50% less energy/$of GDP, as does Japan and Denmark, etc.

        • Rob Macgregor :

          No one denies that conservation and efficiency are the low hanging fruit, but your answer seems to be that otherwise, beyond all possible C & E, that we can continue to use the same generation sources that we have been using, otherwise unabated.

          First, this implies that you’re perfectly okay with the subsidies that flow to Coal, Oil, Nuclear and Gas (CONG) even though those industries would continue to be hugely profitable without them. Also with the fact that those generation sources have been artificially inexpensive over their entire usage histories because of the fact that they don’t bear the social costs of their use.

          You also complain about the “subsidizing of renewables tax-shelters mostly for the top 1% at the expense of the other 99%” as if the subsidies for CONG don’t eventually flow to that 1% in amounts that make the subsidies for renewables look like chump change.

          Yet not only are those generation sources already massively profitable, they are demonstrably a lot worse in terms of environmental impacts than the renewables, especially in the case of mountaintop removal coal, oil from tar sands and potentially from natgas fracking and uranium mining and spent fuel storage. This includes their impact on other natural environments and water resources as well as carbon footprint.

          Those in the forefront of research about the impacts of energy use on climate change have generally agreed that not only do we need to use energy more efficiently, we need to switch ASAP to low carbon generation. In other words all of the above, not just one or the other.

          So again I ask, what are you suggesting we do about continued generation, if not renewables?

  3. Liz Schlegel :

    Mr. Peters has it right when he says the biggest issue we face is thermal (though transportation should not be passed over).

    The challenge with thermal is that it’s expensive (you need to spend money to save money); the incentives and financing mechanisms do not make it easy for middle-income folks to make these investments; and it’s not sexy. Sure, you’ll save 30% on your fuel costs, but you don’t get a panel on your roof that your neighbors can admire!

    The thermal conversation is one that Vermonters need to engage in deeply. If we are to stay in our houses and be able to afford to live in VT, we need to reduce our heating fuel use – and the way you do that is to make significant investments in building retrofits, aka weatherization.

    • Liz,
      You are absolutely right. And you make these investments BEFORE any RE systems are added to your house; their capacities (and capital costs) would be less. See my above comment.

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