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

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82 Comments on "Wind moratorium bill unveiled at statehouse"

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Craig Kneeland
3 years 4 months ago

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
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Steven Farnham
3 years 4 months ago
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,… Read more »
Avram Patt
3 years 4 months ago

Well said, Mr. Farnham.

Steve Wright
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Steven Farnham
3 years 4 months ago
“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.wpengine.com/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 –… Read more »
Mike Martens
3 years 4 months ago

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.

3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Steven Farnham
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Steven Farnham
3 years 4 months ago
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 –… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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 =… Read more »
Steven Farnham
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Steve Wright
3 years 4 months ago

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

John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Avram Patt
3 years 4 months ago

But Mckibben supports wind generation.

3 years 4 months ago
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,… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

Ironic, ain’t it?

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

John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Steve Wright
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago

Personal invective??

I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Randy Koch
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Lance Hagen
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago

“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.

3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Bob Stannard
3 years 4 months ago

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.

3 years 4 months ago
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.… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago

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.

3 years 4 months ago

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
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

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
3 years 4 months ago

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.

3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Pam Arborio
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago

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.

3 years 4 months ago
“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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

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.

Coleman Dunnar
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Carl Werth
3 years 4 months ago

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.

Suzanna Jones
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Kevin Jones
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

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
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Coleman Dunnar
3 years 4 months ago

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

3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Lance Hagen
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
“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… Read more »
George Plumb
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

George,

They are fighting back behind the scenes, whispering with legislators, etc.

Alan White
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Steven Farnham
3 years 4 months ago

Hey, Alan.

Googled “Windshine Electric,” and “Windshine Electric Phoenix, Az.” Got few related links, but nothing comes up belonging to your organization. You’re building wind turbines, and your company has no website? Please explain.

Thanks.

Alan White
3 years 4 months ago
Steve, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. All the hits as few as there are because we staid below the radar for ten years while in development, are for us. Our designs are very forward thinking and totally scalable as they are a true turbine not another taller windmill. From utility to residential and down to even autos as we have a design for the electric cars to do operational recharge and battery cooling at the same time. With no exposed blades ther is no noise and no bird kills. They will also be able to be… Read more »
Peter Romans
3 years 4 months ago

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.

Don Peterson
3 years 4 months ago

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
3 years 4 months ago

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.

3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Kevin Jones
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago

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.

3 years 4 months ago
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.… Read more »
Alan White
3 years 4 months ago

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
3 years 4 months ago

Hello, Alan.

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

Thank you.

Fred Woogmaster
3 years 4 months ago
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.
Paul Kenyon
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Annette Smith
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago
Kevin Jones
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Kevin Jones
3 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Brian Buckley
3 years 4 months ago

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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