Wind moratorium bill unveiled at statehouse

Sens. Bobby Starr, left, Joe Benning, center, John Rodgers and Bob Hartwell hold a press conference to promote a moratorium on wind project siting. Photo courtesy of Annette Smith

Sens. Bobby Starr, left, Joe Benning, center, John Rodgers and Bob Hartwell hold a press conference to promote a moratorium on wind project siting. Photo courtesy of Annette Smith

This story was updated at 11:52 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2013 to reflect Gov. Peter Shumlin’s clarification of his stance on a wind moratorium.

As the 2013 legislative session rolls into view, a passionate battle over energy permitting and a three-year moratorium on large-scale wind development is kicking into high gear.

Flanked by both Democratic and Republican legislators on Thursday, Sens. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, and Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, announced their intent to introduce a bill next week — the first week of the session — that would establish such a moratorium on wind projects with a production capacity of more than 500 kilowatts.

At the unveiling of the 40-page draft bill, an audience of more than 100 Vermont residents, legislators, lobbyists and special interest advocates cheered and booed their way through the presentation in the Statehouse’s cedar room.

Benning and Hartwell spearheaded the bill, as they feel the state should take time to assess how these projects are sited. They want to see if such projects are cost effective and environmentally appropriate for Vermont.

“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.”

The proposal comes one year after the Senate shot down a similar draft legislation Benning sponsored, which called for a two-year moratorium on projects 2.2 megawatts or greater. Since then, opposition to wind projects has grown, with a Montpelier demonstration in autumn drawing nearly 200 protestors.

While Gov. Peter Shumlin is strongly opposed to the idea of a moratorium, he has acknowledged local opposition to some large-scale wind projects and called for the creation of an energy siting commission in early October to analyze how electric generation projects are permitted in Vermont.

Benning and Hartwell’s proposal also calls for stripping the Public Service Board of its power to permit in-state electric generating plants and would give that jurisdiction to district environmental commissions and local land use authorities, except in the case of net metering systems. This component of the draft bill appears to runs against the grain of a bill Rep. Tony Klein, chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, plans to put forward, which would call for a larger regional — rather than local — approach to planning and permitting such projects.

Passing the Benning-Hartwell bill is not going to be easy. For starters, Klein is vehemently against a moratorium, and House Speaker Shap Smith isn’t keen on the idea, either. Klein has also said that the current energy generation permitting process doesn’t need to be overhauled — just tweaked, if changed at all.

Many of Vermont’s most influential environmental groups also oppose the proposal. Such groups include, but are not limited to: the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), the Conservation Law Foundation, 350Vermont, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Citizens Awareness Network, the Vermont chapter of the Sierra Club and many others.

Sens. Bobby Starr, left, and Joe Benning hold a press conference to promote a moratorium on wind project siting. Photo courtesy of Annette Smith

Sens. Bobby Starr, left, and Joe Benning hold a press conference to promote a moratorium on wind project siting. Photo courtesy of Annette Smith

Opponents of the wind moratorium say that such a measure would be a step backwards in Vermont’s push to be a global leader in environmental stewardship and renewable energy. After Tropical Storm Irene and other benchmark weather disasters, VPIRG Director Paul Burns said Vermont should be part of the climate change solution and not the problem. Others argue that a moratorium would be bad for business and be irresponsible for a state that prides itself on local ways of life.

Christopher Kilian, Vermont director for the Conservation Law Foundation, issued a public statement panning the proposal:

“Buying power from outside Vermont means we are exporting air and water pollution and environmental damage by continuing our reliance on large scale hydro-dams, dirty coal and oil, and nuclear power,” Kilian said. “These energy sources are extremely damaging from both an environmental and public health perspective; wind and other renewable energy produced in Vermont is a key part of the transition away from these dirty sources of electricity.”

Residents and groups in favor of the moratorium — like Luke Snelling’s Energize Vermont and Annette Smith’s Vermonters for a Clean Environment, or VCE — argue that construction of large-scale wind is not so clean. They argue that leveling mountain tops and cementing long platforms for towering turbines is ruining Vermont’s mountains and harming its wildlife. They also point to widespread local opposition to projects around the state, from Green Mountain Power’s 21-turbine project in Lowell to a proposed 20-turbine project on Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline in Rutland.

Smith says that large-scale wind projects are dividing the state and causing residents who live close to these projects to fall ill from vibrations and sound. She said the only solution is to ban large-scale wind projects in Vermont.

“We can’t develop energy this way. We need to work together,” she said. “It is absolutely essential that we don’t let any more mountains be destroyed and neighborhoods be divided. This is a technology that doesn’t belong in Vermont. We need to ban wind turbines from Vermont.”

Correction: Gov. Peter Shumlin said on Friday that he is still vehemently opposed to the idea of a moratorium on utility-scale wind development. VTDigger originally reported that Shumlin indicated earlier this week that he was not completely opposed to the idea. 

Link to video of draft bill announcement: https://vimeo.com/56731168

Andrew Stein

Comments

  1. Craig Kneeland :

    As we are still in the early days of developing renewable power sources, it would be unfortunate to stop now. Perhaps a moratorium on turbines above a certain elevation would address most of the concerns of Annette Smith and others. Global warming is too important an issue for us to abandon the development of renewable energy in the most efficient and reliable way possible. No one has come forward with any reasonable alternative to wind. Solar is much more intermittent than wind.

    • Steve Wright :

      The mental calculus, i.e. more renewable energy equals less global warming (for Vermont) is all wrong.

      If climate change is indeed anthropogenic–and we big-wind opponents believe it is–then effective climate change action means attacking the cause at its source: carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. In Vermont, 92.6% of our emissions are from four sectors: transportation, home and structural heating, agricultural processes and commercial/industrial activity. Only 4% of the state’s emissions come from electrical generation, ergo, an effective strategy seems clear: Mount an aggressive conservation and efficiency campaign, NOW!

      Drastic alteration of the Vermont landscape in order to prevent climate change from altering the landscape is a fool’s errand. Taking a timeout on such landscape-altering generation in order to implement a truly effective climate change strategy seems wise to me and many other Vermonters. A moratorium on industrial wind construction is the wise path to take.

      • Steven Farnham :

        Mr. Wright:

        I believe your arguement is disingenuous. Many major sources of AGW gasses, i.e. transportation, can be converted to technology which uses electricity, i.e. electic cars and trains, instead of soldiering on with fossil-fuel-burning technology. However, the conversion to grid-tied technology is of no use unless the grid itself is powered by renewables.

        I cannot say for certain that all the roads, blasting, and clear-cutting is necessary in order to build foundations for the 400-foot tall tubines. Industrial-scale construction often involves overkill. However, if the same electricity could be generated more efficiently with smaller units at a lower elevation, then cheapskate corporate dudes being what they are, they’d be building smaller units at lower elevations.

        Since said cheapskates are building at the highest elevations, we can only assume that is most effective and efficient. I would advise, therefore, that we focus on more sensitive construction and maintenance practices, focus on large-scale wind which is publicly-owned, and abandon the quixotic silliness of trying to stop large-scale wind. Deny it all you please – we need it.

        • Avram Patt :

          Well said, Mr. Farnham.

        • Steve Wright :

          Mr. Farnham,
          Dip into your adjective container as much as you like. That will not alter the fallacy of your fundamental contentions.

          Conversion to electricity as a replacement for fossil fuels is a noble goal, the attainment of which is dependent on advanced storage systems. Such systems–battery technology–do not yet exist at a level to make a significant difference.

          The first rule in effective climate change action is to protect intact and functioning ecosystems. Tearing apart these systems in order to protect them is….well, a breathtaking leap of logic and hubris. The second rule is to attack carbon/ghg emissions at their sources. Building additional renewable energy–in Vermont–in order to significantly reduce these emissions is folly.

          It might be helpful for your understanding of climate change mechanisms to read: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090127163403.html.
          Dr. Solomon is a respected atmospheric scientist and researcher.

          And have a nice day.

        • Steven Farnham :

          “Such systems–battery technology–do not yet exist at a level to make a significant difference.”

          I am not one habituated to quoting the Gipper, but occasionally, an exception is in order – as in now. As he was wont to say, “There you go again.”

          Sorry, you are wrong. First, affordable, fully electric cars are already on the road. I know two people who own them, and are exceedingly happy with them.

          Go here:

          http://vtdigger.org/2012/11/21/plumb-electric-vehicle-a-logical-next-step/

          Second, I went to Portland Oregon a couple years ago. While there, my companion and I rode their light rail – grid-tied light rail, BTW – no batteries. Far smoother than air travel, cheap, quick, efficient, sans security hassles, what a thrill it was to glide along and watch all those poor schmucks fighting traffic on the interstate. I’ve ridden electric trains in India, and though I’ve never been there, I hear China is full of them.

          Go here:

          http://trimet.org/about/inthenews.htm

          One of the times I rode the train in Portland, a copper-coloured plate at the front of the train car caught my attention, so I took a closer look as I disembarked – it read:

          “Manufactured by Bombardier Corporation, Barre, Vermont.”

          So we Vermonters can make them, but we can’t use them? Bull! We’ve been banging rock apart on this planet since (at least) the time of the pyramids, and probably a whole lot longer – and so what? One Krakatau will alter the planet’s surface and environment far more than a thousand years’ worth of sticking pinwheels on the piddly little hills of Vermont. So will a granite quarry, and likewise, mountain-top-removal-coal mining. Get a grip, man.

          And thank you. You have a nice day as well!

          • Mike Martens :

            I am totally surprised to learn that Portland offers airline travel as an alternative to their light rail system.

            Could Mr. Farnham provide me with the airline options so I can compare them to the light rail during my next visit to Portland.

          • Steven Farnham,
            “Generating power in “Iowa, Kansas, etc.” sounds pretty NIMBY to me. Line loss makes our consuming Kansas power pretty impractical”

            The National Renewable Energy Laboratories, NRELs, have proposed High Voltage Direct Current, HVDC, lines from the Great Plains, where the good winds are, to the East Coast, where the people are. Those lines have much less line losses than AC lines, and can be buried, or on pylons, as needed, to satisfy NIMBY concerns.

            Germany is planning to build HVDC lines from North Germany, where the IWTs are, to South Germany, where almost all the PV solar systems are.

            Germany has exported its variable wind energy to Poland, but Poland does not want it, because it upsets their grid, and is building a big switch at the border to stop it.

            Germany also exports a little of its variable energy at low very low prices to the Netherlands. Fortunately, the Netherlands has a large capacity, MW, of CCGTs and OCGTs for balancing it.

            Germany has been exporting its variable PV solar energy to France and the Czech Republic at very low prices, after subsidizing it at 30 – 60 eurocent/kWh. France has a significant hydro capacity for balancing part of the excess energy, but the Czech Republic is building a big switch. Any excess not wanted gets grounded!!!

            http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/89476/wind-energy-co2-emissions-are-overstated

            Below are some numbers regarding the much less than expected results of the Maine ridge line IWTs for the past 12 months.

            Mars Hill, 42 MW, CF = 0.353; uniquely favorable winds.
            Stetson I, 57 MW, CF = 0.254
            Stetson II, 26 MW, CF = 0.227
            Kibby Mtn 132 MW, CF = 0.238
            Rollins, 60 MW, CF = 0.238
            Record Hill, 50.5 MW, CF = 0.197

            Remember, the developers told Maine regulators their IWT projects would have CFs of 0.32, or greater, to more easily obtain bank financing, federal and state subsidies and “Certificate of Public Good” approvals.

            Either regulators:
            – did not ask the right questions on their own (likely due to a lack of due diligence and power systems knowledge), or
            – ignored/brushed aside the engineering professionals, who gave them testimony or advised them what to ask, or
            – regulators received invalid/deceptive answers from subsidy-chasing IWT project developers and promoters, or
            – regulators were too eager to be politically correct, i.e., not hinder IWT build-out progress.

            A US-wide crony-capitalist fraud, aided and abetted by governments, playing out right before our eyes?

            It should be obvious to the VT-PSB and any other government entities, when IWT project developers make claims of CFs of 0.32, or greater, during testimony, these claims should be discounted to at most 0.25, based on the ACTUAL PRODUCTION RESULTS. Failure to do this is malfeasance of a public trust, which has legal consequences.

          • Steven Farnham :

            Mike Martens:

            Not sure how to respond to “I am totally surprised to learn that Portland offers airline travel as an alternative to their light rail system,” and your request that I “…provide… the airline options…”

            As far as I know, light rail exists in Portland to provide quiet, efficient, comfortable, hassle free transportation within and around the city, enabling Portlandians to avoid such heavy reliance on automobiles and congested highways, and to avoid the slower more cumbersome bus system.

            I do not believe any city on the planet offers air travel as an alternative to local ground transport, including light rail, for reasons that, unless you have the intellect of a fence post, I am sure you are aware. High-speed rail is an excellent means to travel between cities, so if any high-speed rail does exist this country, then air travel could be considered an alternative to that – though IMHO – not a very good one.

            My comment that Portland’s light rail is “Far smoother than air travel,” is a statement regarding the comfort, hassle-free convenience, and ride of Portland’s light rail service as compared to travelling by air. It is no way stated or implied that “airline options” exist to and between any and all terminals served by Portland’s light rail service.

            To suggest as much is absurd on the face of it, and speaks volumes about the lack of common sense in the source of said suggestion.

        • Steven Farnham,

          You are right, except for a few important items.

          1) Vermont ridge lines are marginal for wind generation, as already proven by analysis of ACTUAL PRODUCTION RESULTS (reported to FERC, by law) of ridge line generation in Maine. There is no reason for Vermont to expensively repeat stupidity.

          2) Construction costs of ridge line wind turbine facilities costs are about $2,500,000/MW, as proven by ACTUAL ridge line construction costs in Maine and Vermont. It would be much less costly to build IWTs in Iowa, Kansas, etc., WHERE THE GOOD WINDS ARE.

          Remember energy travels at nearly the speed of light on power lines. It would be in Vermont in about 0.01 sec after being fed to the grid.

          The cost of THAT energy would be about 6-8 c/kWh, closer to grid prices than ridge line energy at 10 c/kWh, heavily-subsidized, per GMP; 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per US DOE.

          IWTs in Vermont clearly is “subsidy chasing”. Vermont project developers should be building its IWTs where the wind is, i.e., in Kansas, etc.

          Note: HydroQuebec, Vermont Yankee and grid energy is available at 5-6c/kWh.
          Note: GMP is buying 60 MW of Seabrook nuclear energy for 23 years @ 4.66 c/kWh; VY was offering 4.9 c/kWh.
          http://www.wptz.com/Vt-Utility-To-Buy-Power-From-NH-s-Seabrook-Nuclear-Plant/-/8870596/5731094/-/4nauia/-/index.html

          According to Economics 101, rolling expensive wind energy into rate schedules:

          – increases the prices of goods and services,
          – reduces household living standards,
          – reduces household incomes and business net incomes and tax payments,
          – creates jobs only in RE sectors, but reduces them in many other sectors, for a net LOSS of jobs,
          – reduces investments by out-of-state companies (because of high energy costs) and drives companies out of Vermont (because of high energy costs).

          People’s minds get clouded by the glitter of subsidies, their good sense leaves them and they do stupid things they will regret later.

          • Steven Farnham :

            Generating power in “Iowa, Kansas, etc.” sounds pretty NIMBY to me. Line loss makes our consuming Kansas power pretty impractical. Our consumption of Kansas power requires construction of huge transmission lines from there; these would most likely trump the cost of “ridge line wind turbine facilities” – not to mention the several orders of magnitude by which an(other) transcontinental transmission line would be a greater eyesore than local production. Consumption of Kansas power does not equal energy independence for Vermont. Whatever corporation owns those transmission lines can hold us hostage for any price for the power coming through them – as can whatever corporation that owns the turbines (we may find ourselves in a similar fix with Gaz-Metro).

            The “good winds” may blow in Kansas, but I’ve experienced a few pretty durned ornery ones here. If ours don’t measure up to Kansas standards, we can choose to use less power, and make due with what power our “fair winds” will generate (which is a lot).

            See responses to your other points below –

            “According to Economics 101, rolling expensive wind energy into rate schedules:

            – increases the prices of goods and services,
            – reduces household living standards,
            – reduces household incomes and business net incomes and tax payments…”

            All these can be resolved with smarter and more efficient technology and management.

            “- creates jobs only in RE sectors, but reduces them in many other sectors, for a net LOSS of jobs…”

            If this is true, we’ve lost more jobs for less noble causes.

            “- reduces investments by out-of-state companies (because of high energy costs) and drives companies out of Vermont (because of high energy costs).”

            Doubt it. If any given business has higher operating costs attributable to the electric bill, then so too will any competing business operating here.

    • Craig,
      The main reason for the moratorium is to determine much less destructive and more economically ways to reduce CO2 emissions than with IWTs on ridge lines.

      Instead of a mad rush to ruin as many ridge lines as possible to maximize the subsidies, as the governor and his RE allies are advocating, we should sit back and study the situation.

      THERE IS NO RUSH. Whatever Vermont does regarding GW is irrelevant anyway.

      World CO2 emissions: 33,990 million metric tonnes in 2011, 830 million metric tonnes greater than in 2010, or 102 times greater than Vermont’s annual total.

      US CO2 emissions: 6,000 million metric tonnes in 2011

      Vermont CO2 emissions: 8.1 million metric tonnes in 2011, about 0.024% of the world CO2 emissions.

      http://www.anr.state.vt.us/anr/climatechange/Vermont_Emissions.html
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

      Here are some numbers regarding the poor results of the Maine ridge line IWTs for the past 12 months.

      Mars Hill, 42 MW, CF = 0.353
      Stetson I, 57 MW, CF = 0.254
      Stetson II, 26 MW, CF = 0.227
      Kibby Mtn 132 MW, CF = 0.238
      Rollins, 60 MW, CF = 0.238
      Record Hill, 50.5 MW, CF = 0.197

      Remember, the developers told regulators the IWTs would have CFs of 0.32 or better, to get approvals.

      I predict Lowell Mountain will have similar results, but GMP does not care, because it gets to roll all of its Lowell IWT costs into rate schedules anyway.

      Vermont is a poor state. It cannot afford such RE shenanigans. For Vermont, the least-cost approach to reduce CO2 emissions is energy efficiency.

      The last thing Vermont (and New England) needs is more energy generation capacity. New England’s grid already has the lowest CO2 emissions/kWh in the US. It would be soooo much more effective, and appropriate for Vermont, to shift subsidies away from renewables to increased energy efficiency, which would:

      – decrease the prices of goods and services,
      – increase household living standards,
      – increase household incomes and business net incomes and tax payments,
      – create greatly more jobs in EE sectors and other sectors, than any RE ever could, for a net GAIN of jobs.
      – increase investments by out-of-state companies (because of lower energy costs) and attract companies to Vermont (because of lower energy costs); there would be no need to debase Vermonters by some multi-millionaire developers who take advantage of free money from a sordid EB-5 program for “job creation”.

    • Craig,
      Modern IWTs have been around for at least 25 years, and they are STILL getting poor results.

      Here are some numbers regarding the poor results of the Maine ridge line IWTs for the past 12 months. The data were obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, website.

      The data are required to be reported by IWT owners every quarter to determine Production Tax Credit, PTC, payments, if applicable.

      Mars Hill, 42 MW, CF = 0.353; uniquely favorable winds.
      Stetson I, 57 MW, CF = 0.254
      Stetson II, 26 MW, CF = 0.227
      Kibby Mtn 132 MW, CF = 0.238
      Rollins, 60 MW, CF = 0.238
      Record Hill, 50.5 MW, CF = 0.197

      Remember, the project developers told regulators their IWTs would have CFs of 0.32, or better, to get bank financing, federal and state subsidies and “Certificate of Public Good” approvals, or is public fraud?

      Below are some averaged CFs for 2006 – 2011 period.

      Germany, onshore, CF = 0.187
      Denmark, including offshore, CF = 0.251; a high value due to greater offshore CFs.
      The Netherlands, CF = 0.228
      The US, CF = 0.289; a high value due to excellent winds in the Great Plains.
      Texas, CF = 0.225
      Ireland, CF = 0.283; Ireland and Scotland have the best winds in Europe.
      New York State, CF = 0.249

      I predict Lowell Mountain will have similar results, but GMP does not care, because it gets to roll all of its Lowell IWT costs into rate schedules anyway.

      It should be obvious to the VT-PSB and any other government entity, when project developers make claims of CFs of 0.32, or greater, during testimony, these claims should be discounted to at most 0.25, based on the above ACTUAL PRODUCTION RESULTS. Failure to do this is gross malfeasance.

  2. Steven Farnham :

    Not sure how the so-called “Wind Moratorium Bill” received the momentum it has, but it appears to be a particularly ill-advised piece of legislation.

    Unless we’ve become AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) deniers and/or unless we have decided that we shall live in the future with way less (or no) electricity, or unless we have decided we want to retreat back to the treacheries of the likes of Vermont Yankee, then the only way to proceed is forward. And the only way to continue forward is along a sustainable path. That path must include wind.

    The only thing that makes sense about the anti-wind lobby has nothing to do with “scenic ridgelines.” It has to do with the insanity of allowing major corporations (all out of state – even out of the country) to harness this resource from Vermont communities, and then charge us Vermonters for the use of it.

    After seeing how the insurance companies treat us around paying for health care, and after seeing how Entergy Nuclear has treated the people and state of Vermont, I have no idea why Gaz-Metro was allowed to own seventy percent of Vermont’s power resources; this has to be the stupidest thing the state of Vermont has done since the decision not to purchase the Connecticut River hydro dams. If you want to support a moratorium, then support one which ceases the insane business of prostituting any and all of Vermont’s resources, riches and pristine beauty for the gain of wealthy out of state corporations.

    However, to isolate one of those resources, and prohibit or stall its development would seem to me to be the height of arbitrary and capricious behaviour. Let us continue to build large-scale wind – but let us build it ourselves; let us employ our own people building it; and let the people of Vermont own and benefit from the finished product.

    I’ll begin to reconsider my position against a moratorium exclusively against large-scale wind, when I see Bill McKibben marching in Montpelier in favour of it.

    • Steve Wright :

      Mr. Farnham,
      See the first sentence in my response to Craig Kneeland above.

  3. John Greenberg :

    First, two reactions to previous comments:

    1) Steve Wright may believe that climate change is real, but if he reads the comments and letters in the Vermont press with any regularity, he is surely aware than many of his colleagues opposing utility-scale wind installations in Vermont disagree with his position. He therefore overstates the case substantially when he writes: “If climate change is indeed anthropogenic–and we big-wind opponents believe it is ….”

    2) Climate change is not just a Vermont problem: it’s a global problem. As such, Vermont needs to make whatever contributions it can to address the problem. The fact that this or that energy source contributes only this or that amount to VT’s CO2 production is largely irrelevant. ALL contributions to preventing further global warming matter. Vermont’s a small place with a tiny population, so its contributions are obviously likely to be small. That in no way implies that they should be eliminated.

    Specifically in Vermont, we are far from using energy of any kind wisely, so targeting energy waste still should be our first priority. Vermont has been making efficiency efforts for decades, but the results to date show that there is still a long way to go. The GDS study of recoverable inefficiencies in Vermont showed strikingly similar percentages of waste (roughly 20%) to a national study by McKinsey.

    In addition, intelligent investments in renewable energy make sense here as everywhere: even if we achieve maximum efficiency, we will continue to need large amounts of energy. These must be carefully balanced by a cost-benefit analysis of ALL the environmental implications, not just those cherry-picked by wind opponents. This is precisely what the Public Service Board has been doing for years, as guided by legislative mandates.

    I therefore oppose this ill-advised moratorium.

    Nevertheless, perhaps there is a lesson to be rescued from this moratorium effort.

    While I strongly disagree with those who attack the Public Service Board merely because they disagree with one or another of its decisions, I do believe that the process could be made more open to the public at large. Now that electronic filing and email has made document copying and distribution virtually free, one way to do this would be to make it far easier for members of the public to follow cases before the Board IN THEIR ENTIRETY. I have suggested a few changes to the Board.

    But perhaps, given the momentum around this moratorium effort, this would be a good time for the legislature itself to fine tune the Board’s processes, looking especially at ways to make them more open and accessible to the public at large, whether the issue is wind turbines, Vermont Yankee, or utility mergers.

    As Tony Klein has repeatedly pointed out, however, adoption of THIS proposed moratorium would not refine the Board’s process: it would undermine it entirely, and there is absolutely no reason to do that.

    Many Board decisions are, by their very nature, contentious and hotly debated. It is therefore unsurprising that some of the losers will be less than gracious about their losses. But that’s a poor reason to eliminate a process which has worked well for Vermont, despite the often-ignorant drumbeat of commentary from those who disagree with the Board’s decisions.

    • I must not spend enough time reading the news either, because I’ve never heard any opponents of IWTs deny that human beings have changed Earth’s environment. Would you be able to provide specific references?

      On the contrary, supporters of this moratorium appear to be more concerned and clear about the ways in which our actions are affecting the environment, locally and globally. It’s tempting to think that more new technology (IWTs, CFLs, smart meters, electric cars, etc.) will somehow prevent future catastrophe, but it’s easy to confuse “progress” with “progress traps.”

      It is truly a miracle that this planet remains hospitable for us and tolerant of changes caused by our actions, not to mention the actions of the Sun. The Earth has “repaired” itself in the past, without the help of our technology, and, rest assured, it will again.

      It would be worth (re)reading Bill McKibbon’s “End of Nature” to understand this concept better.

      from: http://environmentalpsych.blogspot.com/2007/09/end-of-nature-natures-end-photomodeler.html

      “McKibben says we can take the path he calls “The Defiant Reflex” using our technology to macromanage and micromanage the environment so as to reduce its negative effects on us as it degrades, or we can take “The Humble Approach” whereby we give up our dream of “control”.”

      You are free to believe that building these towers on our mountains will allow us to adjust the Earth’s climate to our liking, but I refuse.

      I think Mr. Frost said it best:

      Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
      I took the one less traveled by,
      And that has made all the difference.

      • Avram Patt :

        But Mckibben supports wind generation.

        • He is a journalist and activist.

          Wind energy will impoverish Vermont because the cost os at least 2-3 times that of other energy sources.

          They are using their very own Section 248 (just for wind projects) to expedite the destruction of Vermont’s beauty, that Act 250 has been trying to preserve, for their environmentally-damaging, health-damaging, property-value-lowering, visually-offensive, noise-making, bird-killing projects, that produce expensive, variable, intermittent, i.e., junk energy, that could not be used on the grid, unless it is balanced by quick-ramping gas turbine energy.

          Multi-millionaire Blittersdorf’s “plan” states 200 miles of Vermont’s ridgelines are suitable for 460-ft tall, IWTs, equivalent to 200/3.5 = 57 Lowell Mountains @ $160 million = $9.14 billion. The damage would be equivalent to at least 5 times that of Vermont’s ski “industry”, plus nighttime noise. The life of the IWTs is at most 20-years. The energy foisted onto Vermont households and businesses would be 10 c/kWh, heavily subsidized, per GMP; 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per US-DOE.
          http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont

          Note: HydroQuebec, Vermont Yankee and grid energy is available at 5-6c/kWh.
          Note: GMP is buying 60 MW of Seabrook nuclear energy for 23 years @ 4.66 c/kWh; VY was offering 4.9 c/kWh.
          http://www.wptz.com/Vt-Utility-To-Buy-Power-From-NH-s-Seabrook-Nuclear-Plant/-/8870596/5731094/-/4nauia/-/index.html

          According to Economics 101, rolling expensive wind energy into rate schedules:

          – increases the prices of goods and services,
          – reduces household living standards,
          – reduces household incomes and business net incomes and tax payments,
          – creates jobs only in RE sectors, but reduces them in many other sectors, for a net LOSS of jobs,
          – reduces investments by out-of-state companies (because of high energy costs) and drives companies out of Vermont (because of high energy costs).

        • Ironic, ain’t it?

          But has Bill been up to Lowell or commented specifically about the project?

      • John Greenberg :

        Matt Fisken writes: ‘I must not spend enough time reading the news either, because I’ve never heard any opponents of IWTs deny that human beings have changed Earth’s environment. Would you be able to provide specific references?”

        No one could possibly deny “that human beings have changed Earth’s environment.” We all breathe, which changes the atmosphere.

        The question is far more specific than that: namely, whether the earth’s climate is warming (a fact which fewer now deny) and if so, whether the change is at least partially caused by human intervention, specifically, by the carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere by humans.

        As to examples, I believe you’ll find that John McClaughry and many (at least) of his companions at the Ethan Allen Institute are opposed to Vermont wind installations and skeptics about man-made climate change.

        You can find other examples the same way I’d have to: namely, going back through comments and letters posted on Vermont news sites.

    • Steve Wright :

      John,
      You wobble from personal invective to some–some–reasonable points. The basis of my advocacy is invested in protecting the natural systems that make Vermont what it is, an unusual and reasonably intact physical and biological expression. It is this very expression of physics and biology that can resist some aspects of climate change.

      Sacrificing the integrity of that system in the name of protecting it is ludicrous and such is the basis of the notion that building more renewable energy sources–in Vermont–equals carbon/ghg emissions reduction. Plain old every day physics will demonstrate the validity of that statement.

      We agree with regard to the need for a more aggressive approach to energy conservation and efficiency. That makes sense. How about we all join in that effort and allow the moratorium to do what it is designed to do: implement an effective climate change strategy in Vermont?

      • John Greenberg :

        Personal invective??

        I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Randy Koch :

      Maybe there is an alternative to getting rid of the PSB, which many in the public considered to be a captured regulator. Maybe the PSB could continue doing minor technological chores, the “s–t work” of rate setting, etc while properly political decisions, such as whether to hand Gaz Met the keys to the store or decorate the mountains with turbines, would be done more democratically.

      It’s absurd that an unaccountable board of 3 would be allowed to define the “public good” especially on matters of major significance. That is properly the job of an elected legislature and they should stop being so squeamish about exercising their legitimate powers.

  4. Lance Hagen :

    Moratorium? …… these things should be banned in Vermont, altogether, until proponents can demonstrate how much this effort will modulate the climate (existing climate models, that have assumed anthropogenic factors as the primary climate driver, have failed miserably at predicting temperature changes) or demonstrate any correlation between extreme weather events and changing climate (efforts in this area have not shown any correlation). Add to this, electrical generation in Vermont is only a minimal contributor to CO2 levels.

    Scaring ridgelines with these ugly structures is just a costly effort in stupidity. Smart men, in big corporations, are making $ off of Vermont’s fear of AGW.

    • Lance,

      This is not about CO2 emission reduction, but about greedy grabbing of subsidies for “building RE businesses”.

      The fig leaf for the people is “job creation”.

      The energy foisted onto Vermont households and businesses would be 10 c/kWh, heavily subsidized, per GMP; 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per US-DOE.
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont

      Note: HydroQuebec, Vermont Yankee and grid energy is available at 5-6c/kWh.
      Note: GMP is buying 60 MW of Seabrook nuclear energy for 23 years @ 4.66 c/kWh; VY was offering 4.9 c/kWh.
      http://www.wptz.com/Vt-Utility-To-Buy-Power-From-NH-s-Seabrook-Nuclear-Plant/-/8870596/5731094/-/4nauia/-/index.html

      According to Economics 101, rolling expensive wind energy into rate schedules:

      – increases the prices of goods and services,
      – reduces household living standards,
      – reduces household incomes and business net incomes and tax payments,
      – creates jobs only in RE sectors, but reduces them in many other sectors, for a net LOSS of jobs,
      – reduces investments by out-of-state companies (because of high energy costs) and drives companies out of Vermont (because of high energy costs).

      All this while Vermont’s economy is barely growing, spendable household incomes declining since 2007, minimal business profits, good-paying/good-benefits job creation almost nonexistent, and Vermont with a budget deficit of about $75 million. The nth degree of mismanagement of Vermont’s economy.

      • John Greenberg :

        “VY was offering 4.9 c/kWh” to 1 buyer (VEC) for 1 year only, and for only 10MW of power. After the first year’s teaser rate, the contract was to have been market based.

        VY’s offer to GMP and CVPS was 6.1 cents in exchange for which they were to partially relinquish their rights to the revenue sharing agreement which was part of the 2002 MOU.

        • John,

          ““VY was offering 4.9 c/kWh” to 1 buyer (VEC) for 1 year only, and for only 10MW of power. After the first year’s teaser rate, the contract was to have been market based.”

          Market-based, i.e., buying from the grid, would have been 5 – 5.5 c/kWh, not bad.

          The VY deal was still a much better deal than environmentally-damaging, health-damaging, property-value-lowering, visually-offensive, noise-making, bird-killing, 460-ft tall, IWTs on ridge lines.

          GMP, seeing a good business opportunity, grabbed the Seabrook deal real quick. You, as a bookstore owner, would readily agree to such a good deal as well.

          The life of the IWTs is at most 20 years. The energy foisted onto Vermont households and businesses would be 10 c/kWh, heavily subsidized, per GMP; 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per US-DOE.
          http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont

          Note: HydroQuebec, Vermont Yankee and grid energy is available at 5-6c/kWh.
          Note: GMP is buying 60 MW of Seabrook nuclear energy for 23 years @ 4.66 c/kWh; VY was offering 4.9 c/kWh.
          http://www.wptz.com/Vt-Utility-To-Buy-Power-From-NH-s-Seabrook-Nuclear-Plant/-/8870596/5731094/-/4nauia/-/index.html

        • Bob Stannard :

          John, thank you for this important clarification. Mr. Post, who participates frequently in these conversations, does so as presenting himself as an expert; citing figures left and right.

          I’ve stopped reading most of his words, just for the reason you point out. Yes, it was true that VY did offer 4.9 cent power, but that’s where he stops, thus leaving the reader to falsely believe that this was a real number.

          When someone misleads once using an accurate number it’s very difficult to believe ever again.

          • Bob Stannard,

            The Lowell Mountain energy will be foisted onto Vermont households and businesses at about 10 c/kWh, heavily subsidized, per GMP; 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per US-DOE.

            Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee energy is available at about 5-6c/kWh, inflation or grid price adjusted, and grid energy is available at about 5.5 c/kWh.

            GMP is buying 60 MW of Seabrook nuclear energy for 23 years @ 4.66 c/kWh, inflation adjusted. This is a good deal, because Vermont electric rates are rising faster than inflation, as a result of the increasing costs of RE follies being rolled into household and business electric rates.

            This is 24/7/365, high quality energy, much better than the variable, intermittent energy, i.e., junk energy, from the Lowell Mountain IWTs, that is useless to the grid without either a $10 million dynamic reactive device, required by ISO-NE to avoid stability problems in the NEK grid area, or open cycle gas turbines, in inefficient part-load-ramping mode, to balance the variable wind energy.

            http://www.wptz.com/Vt-Utility-To-Buy-Power-From-NH-s-Seabrook-Nuclear-Plant/-/8870596/5731094/-/4nauia/-/index.html
            http://vtdigger.org/2012/11/23/green-mountain-power-meets-deadline-for-40-million-wind-tax-credits-must-pay-10-million-to-iso-new-england/

            According to Economics 101, rolling expensive wind energy into rate schedules:

            – increases the prices of goods and services,
            – reduces household living standards,
            – reduces household incomes and business net incomes and tax payments,
            – creates jobs only in RE sectors, but reduces them in many other sectors, for a net LOSS of jobs,
            – reduces investments by out-of-state companies (because of high energy costs) and drives companies out of Vermont (because of high energy costs).

            All this while Vermont’s economy is barely growing, spendable household incomes declining since 2007, minimal business profits, good-paying/good-benefits job creation almost nonexistent, and Vermont with a budget deficit of about $75 million. The nth degree of mismanagement of Vermont’s economy.

          • John Greenberg :

            Willem Post refers to the Seabrook contract, saying “This is 24/7/365, high quality energy…”

            Wrong again.

            The Seabrook contract is for daily peak power only, not for “24/7″ power.

        • John,

          “The Seabrook contract is for daily peak power only, not for “24/7″ power”

          Please provide the source of the above statement. I looked around quite a bit, but could not find it.

          • John Greenberg :

            It’s in the testimony of Seth G. Parker provided for the State of Vermont in the federal court preemption case last year.

            On page 8, Parker states: “the new Hydro-Quebec contract will provide on-peak energy for 16 hours per day, seven days per week while the ENVY-VEC contract would have provided round-the-clock energy whenever Vermont Yankee is operating. On-peak energy under the Hydro-Quebec contract is more valuable than round-the-clock energy from Vermont Yankee.” He goes on to provide other reasons why the Seabrook contract is more valuable than the proposed VY contract.

            Parker is vice president and principal of Levitan & associates, which his testimony identifies as “a management consulting firm specializing in the power and fuels markets.”

            I don’t have a URL for it. Sorry.

          • John,

            Thank you for your response.

            I had been writing about GMP having a contact with Seabrook. It is likely THAT contract is for 24/7/365 energy; a very good deal for GMP.

            Seabrook, being a much greater capacity plant than VY, likely can undercut VY on price, as it did in this case.

            I had not been writing about VEC having a contact with ENVY. I had also not been writing about VEC having a contract with HQ. I am not familiar with the terms of THOSE contracts.

            I am not aware any of these contracts being easily accessible to the public.

          • John Greenberg :

            The contract Mr. Parker refers to is the GMP contract with Seabrook for 60 MW. It is for 16/7/365 power, NOT 27/7 power.

            “I had not been writing about VEC having a contact with ENVY. ” If you weren’t discussing the VEC contract when you said that VY was offering 4.9 cents, what were you talking about? That’s the only 4.9 cents offer I’m aware of.

  5. I erased a large component of my carbon footprint by going to work at home in 1994. Other than a few substitute teaching assignments about 7 years ago, I have not commuted to any job, or contract assignment, for exactly 10 years.

    From my home, I work on poetry and translations, and help people all over the world write in English. Peter Kremlin and his Politburo would turn my house into a torture chamber (with wind-turbine noise). Peter Kremlin and his Politburo would not care.

    Best of luck with the moratorium, Senators. If it fails, I am planning to file a human rights complaint with the United Nations/UNESCO.

    Ellin Anderson
    Brownington, VT
    http://www.ellinanderson.com

    • Pam Arborio :

      Ellin,
      Bravo for taking a proactive stance and, as so many Vermonters do, take personal responsibility for effecting change. As I read through the verbal acrobats of the pro-wind comments it strikes me to ask: Do any of these wise men live in the shadow of a turbine? Have they hiked Lowell Mountain or flown over Lowell or Sheffield to view damage that will never be returned to its former glory? Have they spoken to local hunters , true stewards of the mountains, as they mourn the ridge lines, wildlife, rare ecosystems and pristine silence they have introduced to each new generation be offered up for desecration? We in the Northeast Kingdom are not rubes to be steamrolled by out of state, international developers and even worse, discredited and berated by our own elected officials for speaking up to protect our homes, mountains and treasured way of life. We ask that our Town and Regional Plans be respected as they speak for the people. We ask that the Kingdom and Nulhegan Basin remain a destination for ecotourism, a last bastion for wilderness and wildlife visitors from all over the world to visit as the rest of the world becomes industrialized. Senator Benning and Senator Hartwell are truly honorable men, willing to take on this battle for a just cause. Don’t believe the “70% of Vermonters want wind energy”,a number reached by polling a conference of 600 attendees asked if they believed in wind turbines. We need everyone out there to follow the money, investigate the facts of wind in Vt. and come to the true conclusion, there are better ways to lower our CO2 carbon footprint than the rape of our mountains, endangering species and fouling our ground water for power not even needed. Please stand behind the moratorium and let your elected officials know the path you want them to take.

      • John Greenberg :

        As the author of some of the comments you mention, I feel compelled to respond.

        I live “in the shadow” of a wind turbine in my front yard. It’s a few hundred feet from my house.

        I drive by the Searsburg wind installation whenever I can, and like many others I’ve spoken to, am constantly in awe of their majestic presence.

        The polling number I saw, which was higher than 70%, was based on DPS surveys of participants in energy planning conferences during the Douglas (no friend of utility-scale wind turbines) administration.

        • “Their majestic presence”? Are you serious? Or is this a comedy site now?

          One day in October, I was observing the Lowell turbines from the observation deck in Brownington, and they did look beautiful, turning in the sun: like Alexander Calder’s mobiles. I was aware, however, that I was looking at evil; in addition to which, they ruin a vista that is otherwise probably not much changed since the 19th century.

          When I first saw them up close, on the way to Stowe Oktoberfest this year, I nearly went off the road. They are not human-sized. They belong in a bleak and inhuman setting, like the Arctic wastelands or something (where they probably would not work, and so, in other words: They belong nowhere).

          Along with far too many people, when the Lowell turbines were first going up, I was not paying attention. At the time, I read somewhere that something was “as tall as the Statue of Liberty,” and I thought: Huh? are they referring to turbines in the Midwest?

          The bad guys love it when you don’t pay attention.

          These existing turbines may be a necessary evil, a sad lessons, with respect to eventually abolishing the technology as a whole, in favor of solar. Germany is leading the way through this painful process, where wind turbines are viewed as a temporary solution.

          Ellin Anderson
          Brownington, VT
          http://www.ellinanderson.com

        • John,

          Those 70% numbers are from before Lowell was constructed.

          I think, as I am sure you and others do, those numbers are a lot less by now, and will decrease in the near future, as they already have in Maine, which has a governor who at least sees the negatives of wind energy and talks about them.

  6. Coleman Dunnar :

    What I can’t understand is why the rush to industrialize our mountain tops. why the fear of a moratorium. This will give us time to balance the claimed benefits againts the against the actual costs of pursueing the current policy.

    Oh! wait I think I can answer my own question – is the answer, the proponents are fearful that given enough time we might realize that the cost, both cash and evironmental far out weigh the benefits,greenhouse reductions are considerably less than claimed and that pursuing this policy is pure folly

    I learned if some body is trying to rush you into a deal it’s not a good deal.

    What’s there to loose by taking a break?

    Thanks Sens.Starr,Benning,and Hartwell for stepping up and advocating for serious dliberative contemplation.

    • Carl Werth :

      Well said.

      From all I have read, it appears that the reason we rushed into IWTs was that certain folks saw an opportunity to make $ from subsidies before everyone woke and realized what they were doing.

      It seems some people have finally woken up enough to ask some damn good questions.

  7. Suzanna Jones :

    Supporters of industrial wind continually claim that by giving over our ridgelines to wind development, Vermont will somehow become a “leader” in the fight against global warming. But how can this make Vermont a leader when so many other states (and countries) have already installed far more turbines than Vermont can possibly accommodate?

    A lot of people in these other places are now recognizing that this path wasn’t so “green” after all. Why should we desecrate our remaining wild areas in a futile attempt to show the world that we are as foolish as they were?

    Why not stop the “gold rush” mentality so we can have a reasonable discussion about whether industrial wind is a wise choice for Vermont? Let’s stun the world with the genius of our leadership in small-scale, non-corporate, community-based authentic renewables, and in scaling back our use of energy of all kinds.

  8. Kevin Jones :

    For those of us that believe that we need real solutions to our environmental challenges I would hope that we can get beyond the rhetoric about the benefits of renewables and put in place policies that actually have an impact. As a former VPIRG trustee and someone who has cheered some of the historic successes of CLF I am disappointed by the comments of both Paul Burns and Chris Killian which suggest that Vermont’s current policies are part of the climate change solution. As VPIRG and CLF well know, the Vermont SPEED program is a sham renewable policy. Because of this flawed legislation the Vermont utilities are selling all of the renewable energy credits for these big wind projects into out of state RPS programs and thus this flawed policy results in these projects increasing Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions and not resulting in a net increase in renewables in the region. Can you blame local citizens for being cynical about the benefits of these projects when the Vermont legislature condones this utility shell game with the renewable energy? The legislature and the Montpelier environmental groups ought to clean up the fundamentally flawed SPEED and Standard Offer programs before any of them suggest that anyone else is not being part of the solution.

    • Kevin,
      Thank you for speaking about the SPEED scam. Here is some info about a VT-DPS report that says it is a scam.

      Example of Job Shifting due to Subsidies:

      Under the Vermont SPEED program it will take about $230 million of scarce funds to build 50 MW of expensive renewables that produce just a little of variable, intermittent and expensive power that will make Vermont less efficient at exactly the time it needs to become more efficient.  

      The VT-DPS evaluated the program in 2009 and issued a white paper which stated about 35% of the $228.4 million would be supplied by Vermont sources, the rest, mostly equipment by non-Vermont sources, such as wind turbines from Denmark and Spain, PV panels from China, inverters from Germany.

      There would be spike of job creation during the 1-3 year construction stage (good for vendors) which would flatten to a permanent net gain of 13 full-time jobs (jobs are lost in other sectors) during the operation and maintenance stage.

      It gets worse. Under the SPEED program, these projects sell their energy to the grid at 3-5 times annual average grid prices for 20 years; the high-priced energy is “rolled” into a utilities energy mix, resulting in higher electric rates for households and businesses, higher prices of goods and services, fewer jobs, lower living standards.

      Most of the larger SPEED projects are owned by the top 1% of households that work with lobbyists, politicians and financial advisers to obtain generous subsidies for their tax-sheltered LLC projects that produce expensive energy at high cost/kWh and avoid CO2 at high costs/lb of CO2; inefficient crony-capitalism under the guise of saving the world from global warming and climate change.  

      http://publicservice.vermont.gov/planning/DPS%20White%20Paper%20Feed%20in%20Tariff.pdf

  9. Pro-wind folks seem utterly confused about the position(s) of those who do not support IWTs on previously undeveloped, pristine mountain tops.

    I’ll suggest it is neither a question of whether the Earth’s climate is changing (it always has and always will), nor is it a question of CO2 being the primary driver/indicator of change (ice records strongly suggest it is).

    I believe the important questions are:

    Given the inherent unpredictability of the Earth’s climate and given our past actions and GHG emissions which CANNOT be undone, do we even have the ability or responsibility to “fix” the atmosphere? In other words, does “anthropogenic climate stabilization” exist? If so, what are the MOST APPROPRIATE responses?

    Should we spend our dwindling economic capital on destructive technologies that most of us will see fail in our lifetimes and that clearly and directly change the environment?

    Or should we attempt to build resilient communities that are better positioned to withstand global warming, global cooling, more expensive energy, economic collapse or an electromagnetic pulse that fries every last transformer in the world?

    IMHO, the turbines on Lowell Mountain do nothing towards creating a healthier, more sustainable future.

    • Thank you Matt. You’ve just said in less than two minutes what I’ve been trying to say in a 40 page bill and a one hour news conference! Evidently I need to work on brevity.

    • John Greenberg :

      Since Matt Fisken’s comments above now have the blessings of one of the moratorium’s sponsors, it is worth taking them seriously.

      I believe there are 2 distinct points to consider:

      I) Most important, carbon change is NOT the only environmental problem we face. The environmental degradation caused by our culture broadly and by our energy supply in particular damages a good deal more than just the climate: to wit, our water, our air, our land, and, in the case of radiation, life on the planet.

      The only sensible way to compare energy sources is to compare them to the other available options. Here are the options as I see them:

      1) Energy efficiency. Multiple studies show that Americans waste AT LEAST 20% of the electricity they consume. That’s equal to the entire contribution of our nuclear “fleet” of 104 reactors. The same studies also show that the waste can be eliminated with a positive return on investment, rather than an economic cost. Moreover, there is no question that NOT using energy is environmentally far less damaging than ANY form of producing it.

      With both economic and environmental incentives to reduce waste, it’s a fascinating question why we have achieved so little (although we are slowly improving) and how we could achieve more, but that takes us far from the subject at hand.

      2) Conservation – simply not using as much energy (turn off the lights, turn down the heat, reduce the size of our homes, drive less, etc.) – is another environmentally benign option, but it constitutes a fundamental challenge to the American way of life. Again, there’s a broad discussion to be had on this topic, but this is not the place for it.

      3) Even if we use far less energy and make maximum use of the energy we do produce, we will need to consider how to produce the energy still needed to transport ourselves, heat our homes and other buildings, run our machines and computers, etc.

      Broadly, there are 3 choices — renewables, fossil fuels, and nuclear power — and the unhappy truth is that none of these sources is perfect: all have downsides; all do environmental damage.

      The only realistic evaluation, therefore, is comparative, but that is almost always lacking in these discussions.

      Put differently, it is intellectually dishonest simply to assert that large-scale wind turbines are horrible and should be delayed or banned while simultaneously assuming that power will be available simply by flipping the switch. That power will come from somewhere, and we need an honest comparison of the defects of wind turbines with those of that “somewhere.” Those complaining about turbines desecrating our mountains need to show that generating power from wind is MORE damaging than coal mines and mountaintop removal, drilling and fracking for oil and natural gas in fragile environments, or mining, milling and enriching uranium.

      I suggest that what we need is not a moratorium, but a far wider ranging and more penetrating discussion than we’ve had to date.

      II) Mr. Fisken acknowledges that CO2 plays a role in climate change, and then asks: “do we even have the ability or responsibility to “fix” the atmosphere?” There are actually two questions here, and the answer to one of them seems pretty obvious. If adding CO2 causes climate change, then ceasing to add these gases pretty obviously means that we would stop exacerbating the problem. The greenhouse gas problem is not confined to the gases we’ve already injected into the atmosphere; we CONTINUE to add tons of CO2 every day. The first law of holes would therefore seem pretty applicable: when you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.

      Mr. Fisken’s question appears to go further than that: can we reverse the damage already done solely by injecting less CO2 into the atmosphere? The evidence I’ve seen suggests that we don’t know the answer, but that the problem is sufficiently grave that we do not have the luxury to wait for the answer.

      • Coleman Dunnar :

        Not to be repetitive but wouldn’t a moratorium be the prudent thing to do while we have the conversation you suggest?

      • I appreciate that John has thoughtfully responded, even if he begins by implying that the value of my comments alone is insufficient to do so.

        “Most important, carbon change is NOT the only environmental problem we face.”

        I agree completely. Have you read my recent op-ed in VT Digger?

        “Those complaining about turbines desecrating our mountains need to show that generating power from wind is MORE damaging than coal mines and mountaintop removal, [etc]”

        I respectfully disagree. This is similar logic that is applied to the smart meter issue: “if most everyone uses cell phones and Wifi, and smart meters emit less RF than those technologies, then there is no reason for concern.” I think it is up to the builders of this infrastructure to show that placing these turbines is somehow improving the area around them. Aside from a few who report being happily hypnotized by their rotation, I’m not hearing anyone claim that their lives have improved since the Lowell turbines (or other large-scale wind sites) were commissioned.

        “Mr. Fisken’s question appears to go further than that: can we reverse the damage already done solely by injecting less CO2 into the atmosphere?”

        Almost, but not quite. I think what I was getting at is that science’s best understanding of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will never be an accurate predictor of climate change, let alone societal change. Based on that assumption, I think it is wiser to focus on solving problems that have more obvious causes and effects (at least to those experiencing the effects). The crux of my stance is that, among many self-proclaimed environmentally-minded folks, too much emphasis continues to be placed on GHG emissions, as though a $170 million dollar wind project is guaranteed to prevent at least that much damage in the future caused by GHG-induced climate change. This is not to say I think we should keep burning fossil fuels as though they are renewable, but rather we should focus our time and energy towards improving the quality of life of Vermonters, not to mention everyone and everything else.

        For example, for me, that means flipping switch on our breaker box every night before bed to create a more natural sleeping environment and to rest assured that I’m not wasting energy.

        To conclude, I’ll offer a link to a post I wrote after Irene, which explains my existing opinion on this matter.

        http://smartermeters.blogspot.com/2011/09/vermont-runoff.html

        • John Greenberg :

          Matt Fisken suggests that my demand that we analyze energy sources comparatively rather than in isolation is analogous to an argument presented by some advocates of smart meters: “This is similar logic that is applied to the smart meter issue: “if most everyone uses cell phones and Wifi, and smart meters emit less RF than those technologies, then there is no reason for concern.”

          But this is a false analogy.

          The point I made was simple. Conservation and efficiency alone will never entirely displace our need for energy, or, more precisely, I have yet to hear a cogent argument suggesting that we can survive in Vermont with NO energy inputs. In any case, few Vermonters have shown any interest in making the sacrifices involved in lowering energy use to even close to zero. In short: like it or not, Vermonters are energy consumers.

          The question, therefore, is not WHETHER we’ll use energy, nor really whether there are downsides to the kind of energy we choose to use, since they ALL have downsides. It is therefore NOT reasonable to pose the choice as between one set of downsides and nothing (as it is usually presented). The real choice is really between the downsides associated with one energy source and those associated with the available alternatives.

          The logic for smart meters which is correctly analogous to mine looks like this. If we opt NOT to use smart meters, we will continue to use analog meters, and, according to smart meter advocates, consume more electricity. Therefore, the implications of using smart meters and subjecting homeowners to RF radiation need to be compared to the implications of using more electricity. Since virtually all of the sources of electrical power on the New England grid have serious health implications, the real comparison is between the health implications of exposure to RF radiation from the smart meters vs. the additional exposure (by not using them) to the various pollutants produced by fossil fuels and/or the radiation produced by the region’s nuclear plants. Comparing smart meters to cell phones may help us weigh the implications of exposure to RF radiation from smart meters, but it does NOT answer the real policy question. THAT requires an examination of the health implications of the actually available alternatives.

          • Just to clarify, are we now using “electricity” and “energy” interchangeably?

            While its technically possible to compare apples with oranges, it accomplishes very little.

            In the case of electricity generation facilities, these turbines cannot be placed next to the Connecticut River and a nuclear plant cannot be sited on top of a mountain, so it is my assertion that each must be examined individually based on their merits and drawbacks. It is worth comparing different models of nuclear plants with each other or different wind turbines with each other.

            I believe the same is true of technology that emits radio frequency radiation. Cell phones, wifi routers, transmission towers, and smart meters are not interchangeable in their use, placement or type of RF emission, therefore comparing them in terms of risk of biological harm is nearly pointless. By GMP’s own admission, smart meters CONSUME electricity, so the logic you suggest doesn’t really fly. When a company decides to replace devices that have been used for 5-10% of their useful life cycles, as is the case with GMP scraping thousands of 3-4 year old analog meters, that cannot possibly be considered an “efficiency measure.” It represents a complete disrespect for embodied energy and suggests that the reasons for doing so are purely speculative. When you consider that Tom Evslin, who was responsible for the $69 million in Smart Grid stimulus Vermont received, has stated “we need to use more electricity,” you begin to understand that smart meters have nothing to do with “empowering customers” or “reducing carbon emissions” or “combatting climate change.”

            The parallels between smart meters and ITWs should be seriously considered by anyone trying to better understand either issue.

            http://smartermeters.blogspot.com/2012/01/dented-cans-are-half-price.html

        • John Greenberg :

          I should also address two other points Matt Fisken raises:

          1) “…science’s best understanding of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will never be an accurate predictor of climate change, let alone societal change. Based on that assumption, I think it is wiser to focus on solving problems that have more obvious causes and effects (at least to those experiencing the effects).”

          Frankly, I’m not exactly sure what any of this means, but it certainly appears to undermine what I thought we agreed on previously: namely, that greenhouse gases produced by human activities are warming the climate.

          Scientific theories are ALL subject to change, but the vast majority of climate scientists agree that adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere WILL lead to further atmospheric warming. There is undoubtedly disagreement about exactly how much of an increment produces exactly how much additional warming, but the basic theoretical model – namely, that adding to greenhouse gases produces higher atmospheric temperatures – is now pretty settled science.

          Again, while there are certainly doubts about how fast the process is occurring, and whether or not there’s a tipping point beyond which the process will accelerate (ice melt produces more water which absorbs and re-radiates more heat, etc.), I have yet to read any serious scientist doubt that we need to produce LESS greenhouse gas and that we should do so as quickly as possible.

          The policy implications should be clear. We’ve already added massive amounts of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, which most scientists agree has produced a warmer climate. We need to stop adding to the problem as quickly as possible. Doing so has direct implications for “improving the quality of life of Vermonters, not to mention everyone and everything else.” Conversely, an ill-considered moratorium on wind turbines would do precisely the opposite.

          2) “flipping switch on our breaker box every night before bed to create a more natural sleeping environment and to rest assured that I’m not wasting energy.” Assuming you flip the switch back in the morning, it is not clear a priori that you are saving energy. If your fridge and or freezer warm up sufficiently while they’re off, you might very well use MORE power to bring the temperature down in the morning than you would have “wasted” by allowing them to stay connected. Similarly, your house may cool to the point where it requires MORE energy to heat it in the AM than if a lower, but constant temperature had been maintained. And so forth.

          • Lance Hagen :

            John, you crafted your words carefully in saying, “but the vast majority of climate scientists agree that adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere WILL lead to further atmospheric warming”, but you failed to address Matt’s point. The question is not whether “greenhouse gases produced by human activities are warming the climate”, the real question is whether the warming by this mechanism is significant to warrant the rush to install all these wind turbines.

            As I stated earlier, the existing climate models (the harbingers of disaster), that have assumed anthropogenic factors as the primary climate driver, have failed miserably at predicting temperature changes. They have consistently predicted higher temperatures versus actual, time after time. Matter of fact, the global temperature hasn’t statically changed over the last 10 to 12 years, even though CO2 levels have been increasing. Even worst is the modelers and climate scientists can’t explain why the models are failing. Keep in mind, it isn’t greenhouse gases alone that are driving the high model prediction, but it is the positive feedback mechanisms that have been assumed in the models and are not well understood. With these lack of results, I would think that any reasonable person would start to question this ‘rush to judgment’ to install these turbines, to reduce CO2 as quickly as possible.

            I think large RE developers realize that they can ‘cash-in’ on this ‘fear of disaster’ many have in Vermont about climate change.

          • John Greenberg :

            Lance:

            The problem isn’t that I “failed to address Matt’s point,” it’s that you disagree with the way I did so, and thus with the cleqar consensus of climate scientists, as is clear from your paragraph challenging climate scientists as having “failed miserably at predicting temperature changes.” That’s your prerogative of course.

            I’m not a climate scientist, and don’t purport to be, but I’ve read enough on the topic to believe that there is a scientific consensus about both the problem and its solution (i.e., stop adding to the problem) and its urgency, and therefore to disagree with your assertion that the scientists have “failed miserably.”

            The vast majority of policymakers around the world also agree that the problem is urgent, though they cannot agree as to how to craft the solution.

          • I assume it is not your intention, but some of your responses have left my head spinning.

            Like others who support the moratorium, I think the industrial wind turbine buildout is a money grab that INCREASES emissions of carbon into the atmosphere by destroying our most valuable carbon and groundwater sinks: our upper elevation forests. As others have mentioned, dynamite, concrete, steel and all the other increasingly precious metals that comprise the turbines are in no way “renewable” and have significant carbon footprints from mining to manufacturing to transport to construction. The end results are increased carbon emissions, decreased carbon sequestration, destroyed natural habitat, unsafe/unhealthy properties, decreased power quality, and increased storm water runoff. I apologize to everyone who interprets these concepts as abuse of a deceased equine.

            re: 2) Surely you’re aware that not all heating/refrigeration systems require electricity to operate. Without getting into the specifics of our setup, we purchase on average 120 kWh of power a month from the grid. I think its safe to say we’re saving energy.

          • John,

            “Similarly, your house may cool to the point where it requires MORE energy to heat it in the AM than if a lower, but constant temperature had been maintained. And so forth.”

            As an energy systems engineer with more than 40 years of experience, I say this is invalid.

            Real-life engineers, who have designed building energy systems, have made studies of this and performed experiments at least 40 years ago, but for some reason, the lore among the misinformed lay public never seems to die.

            Anytime you turn down your thermostat to, say 60F, from its normal 68F, you use less fuel energy and electrical energy, and have less wear and tear, than if you had left it untouched.

            I turn mine down at about 8 pm and, because I have a very tight house, by the time I go to bed, about 11 pm, the house has cooled about 2F on colder days.

            I turn it back on in the morning at 6 am, and by 7 am, it is back up to 68F.

            This measure saves about 100 gallons of propane/yr, or $300/yr, and reduces CO2 emissions more effectively than IWTs on ridge lines.

            This article received 900 views in 72 hours.

            http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

      • John,

        Thank you for the above thoughtful comments. I agree GW is occurring, and part of it is due to many manmade factors, including CO2 emissions.

        The US reduced its CO2 emissions last year just by closing coal plants and opening 60%-efficient CCGT plants.

        The below numbers present some perspective regarding GW.

        Last year the world ADDED CO2 emissions equal to 102 times Vermont’s annual total CO2 emissions.

        Any Vermont destruction of the environment to build renewables is counter-productive regarding GW. Such destruction is avoided by increased energy efficiency.

        If all of the US were to disappear, the rest of the world would fill in the “hole” in about 6 – 8 years.

        Projected World CO2 Emissions by 2035: World CO2 emissions (in 1,000 million metric tonnes) were 22.7 in 1990, 29.89 in 2008, 31.63 in 2009, 33.16 in 2010, 33.99 in 2011; projected at 43.2 in 2035, based on IEA assumptions.

        Some major CO2 emitters: China 8.9 in 2011 (2010: 8.3); USA 6.0 (2010: 6.2), India 1.8 (2010: 1.7); Russia 1.67 (2010: 17); Japan 1.3 (2010: 1.3). Germany 0.804 (2010: 0.828).

        World CO2 emissions: 33,990 million metric tonnes in 2011, 830 million metric tonnes greater than in 2010, or 102 times greater than Vermont’s total.

        US CO2 emissions: 6,000 million metric tonnes in 2011

        Vermont CO2 emissions: 8.1 million metric tonnes in 2011, about 0.024% of the world CO2 emissions.

        http://www.anr.state.vt.us/anr/climatechange/Vermont_Emissions.html
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

  10. “Opponents of the wind moratorium say that such a measure would be a step backwards in Vermont’s push to be a global leader in environmental stewardship and renewable energy.”

    – World leadership? My foot. Is that the reason Vermont uses Chinese PV panels, Spanish (Iberdrola) and Danish (Vestas) industrial wind turbines?

    – Environmental stewardship? As with the destruction of Lowell Mountain ridge lines?

    – Energy efficiency, the lowest-cost CO2 emission reduction approach, not good enough to be mentioned?

    – Greedy subsidy-chasing by a few Vermont multi-millionaire RE oligarchs? They justify the environmental destruction of their projects in the name of “fighting” climate change/global warming, while fattening their bank accounts.

    A foolish statement, made by people with financial stakes in renewable energy, that is aimed at confusing many ignorant people, including many, go-with-the-flow legislators.

    Projected World CO2 Emissions by 2035: World CO2 emissions (in 1,000 million metric tonnes) were 22.7 in 1990, 29.89 in 2008, 31.63 in 2009, 33.16 in 2010, 33.99 in 2011; projected at 43.2 in 2035, based on IEA assumptions.

    Some major CO2 emitters: China 8.9 in 2011 (2010: 8.3); USA 6.0 (2010: 6.2), India 1.8 (2010: 1.7); Russia 1.67 (2010: 17); Japan 1.3 (2010: 1.3). Germany 0.804 (2010: 0.828).

    US CO2 emissions 6,000 million metric tonnes in 2011

    Vermont CO2 emissions 8.1 million metric tonnes in 2011.

    http://www.anr.state.vt.us/anr/climatechange/Vermont_Emissions.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

    Vermont is a poor state. Its least-cost approach to reduce CO2 emissions, is energy efficiency.

    The last thing Vermont (and New England) needs is more energy generation capacity. New England’s grid already has the lowest CO2 emissions/kWh in the US. It would be soooo much more effective, and appropriate for Vermont, to shift subsidies away from renewables to increased energy efficiency, which would:

    – decrease the prices of goods and services,
    – increase household living standards,
    – increase household incomes and business net incomes and tax payments,
    – create greatly more jobs in EE sectors and other sectors, than any RE ever could, for a net GAIN of jobs.
    – increase investments by out-of-state companies (because of lower energy costs) and attract companies to Vermont (because of lower energy costs); there would be no need to debase Vermonters by some multi-millionaire developers who take advantage of free money from a sordid EB-5 program for “job creation”.

  11. George Plumb :

    I find it interesting that neither VPIRG or CLF have responded to any of the posts. Avram, although many of us disagree with you at least you have the respect for others to attempt to defend your position.

    If Paul and Christopher are so concerned about carbon emissions I have some direct questions for them although I would be surprised if they responded.

    Are you working to see that after the Lowell Wind towers have been up for a year you will be able to tell us scientifically how many tons of C02 have been avoided as a result?

    Did either VPIRG or CLF question the energy wastefulness of the Jay Peak Water Park?

    How many nights have you or any of your staff spent sleeping in the homes affected by the wind tower noise?

    More personally:
    Do you now drive an electric vehicle? Please don’t say you can’t afford one as your salaries are several times that of the average Vermonter.
    How many times in your adult life have you flown in a jet plane for recreational purposes?
    Photovoltaic has been around for decades. What year did you install it on your home?

  12. Alan White :

    If Vermont waits just a year or so our genetators will start to come to market. Windshine generators are true turbines that are not 400 ft tall ,no whoosh noise and no bird kills. Cost significantly less up front and will produce more power over a larger wind profile. Scalable from utility to commercial to residential to even the electric cars. Vermont can have its mountain tops and wind power at the same time. Windshine Electric got our patent this last sept so the tall windmill needing subsidies are going to be a thing of the past. Technology is in the pipeline just dont be hasty to knock the top off a mountain as that can never be undone.

    Alan White
    Managing General Partner
    Windshine Electric
    Phoenix, Az
    480.221.8713

  13. Peter Romans :

    As long as we allow VPIRG, CLF, Shumlin and Klein to maintain the conversation on a hypothetical level, Vermonters will endorse their self-righteous claims. “Saving the planet, shutting down nukes and dirty coal”, etc. If the Legislature relies on scientific evidence, then Burns’, et al unsubstantiated remarks will be discredited in short order.

  14. Don Peterson :

    Driving to work the other day, I noticed that only two of the 21 towers in Lowell were turning.

    I find that interesting. I have never seen all of them in operation at once.

    Since the wind on the ridge isnt selective, I suspect that some part of the wonderful “benefit” of Big Wind was oversold to the general public.

    I suspect the biggest benefit went to the utilities involved. Ratepayers come last.

    • Carl Werth :

      I don’t think the general public was oversold – mainly because the general public were never really given a chance to ” buy into” the concept of IWTs on ridge lines in the first place. Certain towns were sold – but not the general public. I do believe this is one of the points the protesters were making before they were arrested.

    • Don,

      Some years ago, I predicted there would be complaints about noise as soon as the Lowell IWTs were turned on. There were.

      Now, I am predicting the energy production of the Lowell IWTs will not be anywhere near what was stated to “sell” the project to the PSB, and legislators, and the lay public. Why am I able to predict this? Read further.

      Wind turbine owners are required to report quarterly production to the federal energy regulatory commission, FERC. The Maine data of the last 5 years were analyzed and the ANNUAL capacity factors are not anywhere near the 0.32 used to “sell” the project.

      This will not bother GMP, because it gets to recover its costs via the rate schedules, per likely approval of the PSB. What else is a poor company to do, if there is no wind? Good thing we still have all these other generators to supply energy when there is no or too little wind.

      In Vermont in 2012, almost all summer there has been almost no wind (just look out of your window every morning and at night; are the trees moving?), even in the fall there has been no or just little wind, even in the early winter there has been just a little wind, except on a few days.

      The wind speed has to be about 7.5 mph to get the 373-ft diameter rotors turning. Below that, they do not turn, but the IWT uses energy from the grid for self-use, not only when it sits idle, but ALL THE TIME.

      Here are some articles to bring you up to speed.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/53258/examples-wind-power-learn
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/84293/wind-turbine-noise-and-air-pressure-pulses
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/89476/wind-energy-co2-emissions-are-overstated

  15. Thanks, Pam. The answer to most of your questions is, “Probably not.”

    I am puzzled as to why anyone would deliberately ruin the quaint Vermont towns immortalized by Robert Frost in his poetry. It seems un-American; it reminds me of Lee Iacocca’s anecdote about a scion of the Ford family going around with an American flag sewn to the seat of his pants. What are these vandals made of?

    In so many spheres – history, literature, geology, wildlife, past and present rural culture, popular culture (“White Christmas,” “Moonlight in Vermont”) – Vermont represents “America’s Best.” I cannot attribute such wanton vandalism to mere ignorance, or indifference; there is something far more sinister in play, some particularly dark envy: and at this point, I will surrender the mike to C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia as well as a lesser-known work, The Screwtape Letters. In this book, Screwtape the senior demon writes a series of letters to his nephew, Wormwood, advising him as to how souls may best be damned. His advice includes these choice words:

    “Music and silence — how I detest them both! … no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise — Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile … We will make the whole universe a noise in the end.”

    Think about what is NOT possible when those monstrosities are spinning in Lowell, or of what will NOT happen if they go on line in Newark. Music, homework, prayer and meditation, any sort of intellectual work, “sleep that knits up the ravel’d sleave of care.” I am wondering whether the Catholic retreat center in West Burke will be within earshot of the dark, Satanic windmills. Screwtape must be busy these days.

    The phony ‘environmentalists’ in our government need to put their money where their mouths are, and help others take responsibility for erasing some of that carbon footprint. (How many diesel-spewing buses can be taken off the roads if more people home-school? Small windmills, gristmill sites restored for hydro power, American-made solar panels: the list could go on and on.)

    This has been a lesson in what happens when you entrust your responsibility to others.

    Ellin Anderson
    Brownington, Vermont
    http://home.earthlink.net/~ellingreeranderson/index.html

  16. Kevin Jones :

    John Greenberg,from your comments I would guess that we are on the same page when it comes to VY and climate change. Wouldn’t you agree though that when it comes to solutions to these challenges that we need good effective policies not empty rhetoric?

    When it comes to large scale renewables in Vermont (almost everything other than the net metered projects), Vermont law encourages the sale of the renewable energy credits (RECs) from these projects into out of state RPS programs and the utilities are doing so. As a result of Vermont law, all large scale wind projects and even those 2.2 MW solar (e.g. Sharon and Ferrisburg) sell their RECs into out of state RPS projects. This has 2 major impacts. First if Massachusetts has a 100 MW mandatory renewable goal (from its RPS) and the Vermont SPEED and Standard Offer projects create 100 MWs of renewables and sell them into the Massachusetts RPS then on a net basis we have only created 100 MWs of renewables (If Vermont had an RPS rather than the sham SPEED and Standard Offer we would create 200 MWs of renewables). The second effect is that when a Vermont utility has a contract for one of these Vermont wind or large solar projects and sells the RECs then the Vermont utility and the Vermont customers get credited with the residual ISO-NE emissions for this energy which is largely gas, nuke, oil, and coal. This is why when the Vermont DPS models the states greenhouse gas emissions the GHG emissions actually grow when we increase energy from the Vermont SPEED and Standard Offer programs. While this may be counterintuitive it highlights why myself and other serious energy policy analysts label the SPEED and Standard Offer programs a sham. While I am dissapointed that we are selling the RECs from the 2.2 MW solar projects (resulting in Vermonters rates increasing for no net climate benefit) how do we explain to “salt of the earth” Vermonters that are concerned about the degradation of our ridgelines that they should accept theses sacrifices when the Vermont policy behind these projects ensures that they will not result in a net increase in renewable energy in the region and also increase Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions? Vermont today has the most fundamentally flawed renewable policy in the country and that is why as a Vermont progressive I stand with Senator Benning in support of a large scale wind moratorium so that we can fix these failed legislative policies. Read the recent PSB reports recommending an RPS and on the SPEED Program.

    • John Greenberg :

      Kevin Jones:

      1) I have read your many posts here and elsewhere about SPEED & RECs with interest and had some prior familiarity with the REC issue. Your arguments seem convincing to me. I have yet to hear a cogent counterargument. While I do not feel like I understand this issue as fully as I’d like, I’m certainly inclined to agree with your point of view on RECs.

      2) That said, however, nothing in the proposed moratorium on wind turbines does anything to fix this problem, so accepting your REC arguments does NOT lead me to support the moratorium.

  17. CORRECTED: Calder’s not Caldwell’s

    “Their majestic presence”? Are you serious? Or is this a comedy site now?

    One day in October, I was observing the Lowell turbines from the observation deck in Brownington, and they did look beautiful, turning in the sun: like Alexander Calder’s mobiles. I was aware, however, that I was looking at evil; in addition to which, they ruin a vista that is otherwise probably not much changed since the 19th century.

    When I first saw them up close, on the way to Stowe Oktoberfest this year, I nearly went off the road. They are not human-sized. They belong in a bleak and inhuman setting, like the Arctic wastelands or something (where they probably would not work, and so, in other words: They belong nowhere).

    Along with far too many people, when the Lowell turbines were first going up, I was not paying attention. At the time, I read somewhere that something was “as tall as the Statue of Liberty,” and I thought: Huh? are they referring to turbines in the Midwest?

    The bad guys love it when you don’t pay attention.

    These existing turbines may be a necessary evil, a sad lessons, with respect to eventually abolishing the technology as a whole, in favor of solar. Germany is leading the way through this painful process, where wind turbines are viewed as a temporary solution.

    Ellin Anderson
    Brownington, VT
    http://www.ellinanderson.com

  18. Alan White :

    Windshine units will be able to R/R the the current non effective windmills. Cut the towers down to less than 100ft and provide power at speeds down to 1 mph. Airplanes went from propellers to jets and wind power is headed that direction thanks to our designs. Vermont and all the states, even Alaska will be able to have real power from wind and not kill anything.

    • Steven Farnham :

      Hello, Alan.

      Would you please reply to my question (appended to your post from January 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm, above)?

      Thank you.

  19. Fred Woogmaster :

    The technological aspects of this issue, presented by those of you who seem to comprehend, are beyond my grasp. The human issues are not. The word ‘moratorium’ creates its own psychological determinant. If what’s being proposed is a ‘prudent pause for the people’ I’m all for it. The “truth” of this issue has been obfuscated by emotion – and by ‘money’ interests. Alteration of that which is natural (or of nature) has caused great harm to this planet. Ascertaining The Truth of this issue is crucial. A prudent pause, with a plan to answer unanswered questions, will injure no one.

  20. Paul Kenyon :

    Re: VPIRG letter: “Repower Vermont and Replace Vermont Yankee”

    Dear senators,

    The letter from VPIRG saying, among other things, that VTY can be replaced with renewables is nonsense. I surely hope you realize that. Renewables generate low quality, intermittent and variable energy to the grid (at high cost of every kind: environmental, dollars and more.) VTY is a base-load plant, on steady 24/7. Renewables are play-things for the rich—exactly as unreliable as their energy source, the wind and direct sunlight. The two are not comparative. This is obvious. I expect you folks to at least embrace this essential information and use it to help guide Vermont toward a realistic energy future.
    The letter also exposes VPIRG as a political advocacy-for-special-interests (that are divorced from actual science) agency and not really anything that has to do with physical reality. VPIRG is an organization that in this instance is driving unfounded beliefs and dressing them up as science fact. This is a disservice to Vermont.
    Here is a letter I’ve sent Paul Burns: Mr. Burns,

    How is the installation of wind turbines in Vermont justifiable given that it’s not nearly certain that man is driving climate to a measurable extent–the warming is within natural cycles in timing and extent according to the actual environmental data–and that wind turbines, because they generate intermittent and variable energy to the grid, have never shown that they reduce CO2 on their modern grids like ours—especially considering their environmental and health impacts? Even if CAGW is real, the machines have never shown that they reduce CO2 on their grids. How can you support their installation?
    I think there is something else going on here. I think VPIRG is a political entity working for other interests than those of Vermonters. Nothing else makes sense.

    If you can justify the installation of wind turbines on ridgelines, please do so. I’d be glad to see the real evidence that their installation is a good thing for Vermont. A lot of people would like to see that evidence if it exists. And if it doesn’t the whole thing is exposed as a sham.

    PV arrays in open fields are another example of both a solution wishing for a problem to solve and a false presentation of the energy balance of the technology. The evidence for this lies in the shadow under the array when the array is running in full sun. Ask your wife if she’d plant her vegetable garden under a PV array. I think she’ll tell you exactly why those devices are a negative impact on the environment.

    PV’s turn about 10% (some a little more) of the incoming sun’s energy into low grade electricity (variable and intermittent,) reflects 1% and rebroadcasts the remainder, about 89%, of the incoming energy back into the atmosphere as waste heat making PV’s a global warming driver, a square foot of climate warmer for every square foot of PV. Mostly they shade the ground and warm the atmosphere. And at great expense. These technologies are expensive and ineffective. How is this good for Vermont? It seems more a feel-good attempt by an agency that is trying to justify its existence. I think you have decided that, knowing the aspects I’ve written above, as I am sure you do and not needing me to remind you, you are going along to get along. This is not leadership. I expect better of VPIRG.

    If any of what I have written can be shown to be factually incorrect, please correct me.

    Happy New Year,

    Paul Kenyon
    Cumulus Engineering, LLC
    Bridport, VT

  21. Annette Smith :

    To get up to speed on the noise problems wind turbines create for neighbors, listen to this radio program http://www.blogtalkradio.com/windwise/2013/01/07/the-rick-james-interview-replay
    which discusses the just released collaborative noise study from Wisconsin.

    Ken Kaliski of RSG testified to the PSB in GMP’s 21 3MW Vestas wind Lowell case: “In conclusion, with respect to low-frequency sound below the hearing threshold, the scientific consensus at this time is that there is no health effect from exposure to sub-audible low frequency sound or infrasound.”

    The Wisconsin report that looked at 3 homes that have been abandoned by their owners and whose authors includes Hessler who is First Wind’s expert in the 16 2.5 MW Clipper wind Sheffield case says ““The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. It should be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies.”

    The audio interview goes into more detail about how the study came about and what was found. People are getting sick in Vermont from these big wind turbines.

  22. Kevin Jones :

    John Greenburg,

    Fair enough. Honest people can disagree whether a wind moratorium is the right approach. My point is that it is not fair for those who do not support the moratorium to accuse wind moratorium supporters of either harming Vermont’s reputation on renewable energy or proposing a step backwards on climate change. As I have argued Vermont’s SPEED and Standard Offer programs are the most flawed renewable energy policies in the nation and thus it is hard to do anything other than improve our standing in this area. Similarly it is a fact that Vermont Wind projects are participating in the SPEED program where RECs are regularly being sold out of state. As I have factually argued this results in increasing Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions not reducing them. Basic logic suggests that a moratorium on something that has no net benefit to greenhouse gas emissions cannot make the situation worse. In fact since the Vermont DPS’s own greenhouse gas modeling shows growing SPEED resources increases Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions, as any reputable model would, it can be argued that a Vermont industrial wind moratorium actually would reduce Vermont’s carbon foot print. If this sounds counterintuitive then you are beginning to understand how incredibly flawed the SPEED and Standard Offer programs are.

    So choose not to support the moratorium if you like but environmental groups, legislative committee chairs and others accusing Vermont wind moratorium proponents of harming Vermont’s reputation or ignoring climate change are totally off the mark given current Vermont policy. They should instead focus on replacing the SPEED and Standard Offer programs with an RPS like all of our neighbors. That would be real progress..

    • John Greenberg :

      Kevin Jones:

      Some points I made previously bear repeating. Climate change is not the only environmental threat we face.

      Accordingly, what is needed is a comparative assessment of the ALL the pros and cons of all the potential sources of energy which could supply our needs.

      The Comprehensive Energy Plans Vermont has been doing for decades attempt to do precisely that. The current policy of promoting renewable sources, including utility-scale wind turbines, did not emerge out of nowhere. It is the direct result of a planning process which has been refined over at least 3 decades during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

      The moratorium the 2 senators are proposing simply ignores these years of detailed analysis and substitutes the judgment of these 2 individuals, propelled by a small set of very vocal opponents of wind turbines, for that of citizens, experts, utilities, developers, and legislators who’ve spent long and arduous hours considering all aspects of the topic.

      I therefore continue to believe that the moratorium is wrong on its merits — wind power is considerably less damaging to the environment than most of the existing alternatives — and, for the reasons just noted, wrong on the process as well.

      One final note. Given the hyperbolic arguments presented here and elsewhere, it is worth pointing out that Vermont is not the only political entity to consider these issues. Not only have a number of other states done so as well (which is why RECs exist in the first place), but so have countries around the world. Capital markets have allocated billions to wind turbines, not just in the US, but around the world. Obviously, this does not necessarily mean that all these folks around the world are right, but it does suggest that the arguments opponents are presenting here have been heard and rejected elsewhere (except, of course, the argument that Vermont’s mountains are unique).

  23. Kevin Jones :

    John Greenberg,

    Vermont is the only place on the planet and surely only place in the U.S. that has a sham renewable policy like the SPEED program. All of the other 29 states that have renewable goals require the retirement of the RECs when you meet that goal. Having an energy plan that sets fancy goals and then passing legislation that when the shell game is over results in an increase in Vermont greenhouse gas emissions suggests that our policymakers believe we are fools. Having RECs, as well as markets for RECs, is not the problem. The problem is setting illusionary goals that attempt to make us feel good but in reality do nothing to mitigate climate or other environmental impacts.

  24. Brian Buckley :

    Come on ya’ll.

    It’s all about community benefits/ownership incentives for harnessing the resource. That’s how we keep the jobs here, get rid of the “big bad corporation” argument, and give the community greater input on how they develop their natural assets.

    See Generally, the Minnesota Flip Model-
    http://www.windustry.org/community-wind/toolbox/chapter-12-minnesota-flip

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