Benning: Big wind, take two

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by state Sen. Joe Benning, of Lyndonville, who represents the Caledonia-Orange District in the Vermont Senate.

Last spring I had the opportunity to hike up to the top of Lowell Mountain to look at the construction going on for a new industrial wind plant. As I crested the top, it became immediately apparent that the “construction” was far less impressive than the “destruction” it was causing. Horrified, I went right back to the Legislature to move for a moratorium on such development. As I said at the time, “We should never rape a pristine environment in exchange for intermittent power that has to be subsidized by both the taxpayer and the ratepayer, especially at a time when we have ample power available on the grid.”

Since then, wind projects have been proposed or built in Rutland County, Windham County and Chittenden County. Sure enough, senators close to those projects who voted against the moratorium last spring, having now seen the destruction and experienced the social upheaval they bring, are rethinking their positions.

That effort failed in the Senate, 18-11. As a freshman senator in the minority party, that didn’t come as a surprise. What I did find encouraging, however, was the coalition of senators who voted in the minority. Most fell into the category of those who’d been directly affected by these industrial wind projects. My speech on the Senate floor ended with the prediction that “these projects are coming to a mountaintop near you.”

Since then, wind projects have been proposed or built in Rutland County, Windham County and Chittenden County. Sure enough, senators close to those projects who voted against the moratorium last spring, having now seen the destruction and experienced the social upheaval they bring, are rethinking their positions.

Big wind proponents claim these projects are the magical silver bullet that will solve our electric needs and cure man’s contribution to global pollution. Interestingly, George Aiken once used the very same argument advancing the cause of nuclear power. Over time we learned nuclear power had certain drawbacks. We now know big wind also has drawbacks. If we consider big wind as one tool in a toolbox full of alternative energy tools, rather than a means unto itself, it is easier to redefine the conversation. A substantive conversation, without all the ideological rhetoric, would be most helpful for Vermont.

We need a plan for evaluating whether use of this particular tool is appropriate in Vermont’s unique and historically cherished mountain environment. We need to analyze the data now being collected by big wind projects now in existence to determine whether they are actually living up to their promised expectations. We need to develop a comprehensive state energy plan that defines the proper tools for achieving our energy and carbon-reduction goals. These things take time. A three-year moratorium would immediately cease further environmental destruction while we get that time.

If our studies conclude that this high-priced, intermittent power is worth the environmental destruction and social upheaval it is causing, then a three-year time-out will not mean the end of the world. If, on the other hand, our studies show this particular tool is the wrong one for Vermont, then our time will have been well spent.

Comments

  1. Central to the discussion Senator Benning is suggesting, I think, is the question of whether subsidies, such as the Production Tax Credit, are in fact essential to encourage cutting-edge technology that would otherwise not be cost effective to research, develop or build. Or, are these incentives simply enabling companies to operate in a manner which is inappropriate and unsustainable?

    Either way, I’ll suggest the subsidy model itself requires as much scrutiny as the industrial/utility-scale wind projects themselves. A major problem I see is that our federal award system encourage companies to “go big or go home” resulting in infrastructure that is anything but scalable and so rushed that mistakes and disputes are bound to take place.

    In the case of using wind to generate electricity, this is hardly a new idea and to suggest that companies like GMP need more of our tax dollars to ward off climate change is specious, at best. Instead of offering a production credit for each kWh produced in the first 10 years, projects should be built out of pocket with awards given AFTER 10 years of operation, once it is clearly shown that the benefits actually outweigh the costs.

    • John Greenberg :

      Matt Fisken addresses federal tax incentives as though they are unique to renewables. This is about as far from the truth as can be imagined.

      The US does not have and never has had anything resembling a free market when it comes to energy. Nuclear power has been subsidized and promoted since the Atomic Energy Act was first passed in the mid 50s. All of the research and development prior to that was paid for entirely by taxpayers.

      Oil, gas and coal have been subsidized for even longer. Subsidies for renewable energy have been miniscule compared to these massive and ongoing subsidies for fossil and nuclear fuel sources. Obama’s stimulus bill included more money for renewable energy than all previous budgets had allocated altogether.

      Wind opponents like to single out just the one small tax credit given for wind power and simply ignore all of the others, but give no rational basis for doing so. If we are to properly understand subsidies, then, like everything else in the energy field, we must do so comparatively. That’s not easy to do, since many of the subsidies for other industries are buried in the tax code and elsewhere, and many are in the form of allowing industries to externalize the pollution they create, thereby socializing the costs of cleaning it up.

      The ONLY way to figure out what is “cost effective to research, develop or build” is to consider ALL of the costs of each of the industries competing for market share. Once one ‘gets into the weeds’ of such studies, one finds they’re not real easy to do, but it suffices to say for present purposes that wind tax credits are the tip of a far, far larger iceberg.

      Finally, I should note that as part of the fiscal cliff deal, Congress has just modified the wind tax credit to allow companies who BEGIN construction to get the credits, rather than providing credits only to operating installations. This will relieve some of the prior pressure to complete projects quickly or forego the credits entirely.

      • John writes: “Matt Fisken addresses federal tax incentives as though they are unique to renewables.”

        I said, “…whether subsidies, such as the [PTC], are in fact essential…”

        I was trying to be general and would never argue your point that other goods, services and energy sources continue to benefit from excessive pork entirely at the expense of taxpayers’ wallets, their health and the environment.

        To name a few, in Vermont alone, we have GMO corn, wireless “broadband,” and wireless smart meters.

        I’ll provide this document (https://www.burlingtonelectric.com/ELBO/assets/AMI%20Plan%20filing%20with%20PSB%2011-17-11.pdf) for illustration:

        “…[Burlington Electric Department]‘s original business case demonstrated that a system-wide deployment of AMI within its service territory was not cost-effective. With [The Department of Energy]‘s award … of fifty percent (50%) matching funds, BED’s business case improved to the point where it determined AMI deployment within its service territory is now cost-effective.”

        Subsidizing a bad deal does not make it a good one.

        I think the reason subsidies for fossil fuels and most other electricity generation methods are often brushed aside is that they represent finite, embodied energy, upon which our massive economic system has been built. Remove those subsidies and we would see collapse.

        Wind development depends not only upon wind subsidies, but all the other subsidies as well (you can’t build, transport or install a turbine without oil). Removing subsidies for wind would certainly force the wind industry to make wiser decisions, most notably, build plants that are scalable. By starting out slowly, wind developers would have to demonstrate the usefulness/impacts of a turbine or two before going whole hog.

        If the environmental benefits of IWTs and the purported altruism for developing these projects are real, then the costs should be laid out entirely by those “philanthropists” and not socialized by everyone. At the very least, those who are off the grid, already doing their part to save electricity, or do not believe these projects represent sustainable solutions should not have to prop up the industry. As they say, “put your money where your mouth is.”

        • John Greenberg :

          Matt Fisken is completely missing my point. Simply put, when all other energy sources are heavily subsidized, it is unreasonable to single out one of them and expect it alone to be economically viable without subsidies. If wind is to compete on the energy playing field we have built in America, some subsidies, especially at this early stage of the industry, are inevitable.

          Perhaps there are some wind developers who are “philanthropists” as Mr. Fisken later contends, but to my knowledge, most of them are businessmen with an eye to the bottom line, just like developers of other any energy sources. Again, when all the others stop hitting up taxpayers, there will be some justification for asking them to do likewise. Until that time, however, the demand is totally unreasonable.

          Finally, Mr. Fisken also contends that “Wind development depends not only upon wind subsidies, but all the other subsidies as well (you can’t build, transport or install a turbine without oil).” This misses entirely the question of magnitude.

          The economic contribution of oil subsidies to the building, transportation and installation of wind turbines does not significantly alter their costs. Additionally, precisely the same points could be made – with about the same impacts, I suspect – of all other sources of energy: oil wells don’t drill themselves, gas pipelines don’t install themselves, nuclear plants require massive quantities of steel, concrete, etc.

      • Steve Wright :

        John,
        You’re wobbling again. Matt was clearly speaking of the wind subsidy; he even mentioned it specifically, the Production Tax Credit. And by the way, GMP will get the tidy sum of $45-48 million over the next ten years from that hog trough.

        And speaking of subsidies, see below for data taken–by me–from the U.S. Energy Information Agency.

        FUEL FEDERAL SUBSIDY IN $/KWH
        Natural gas 0.63
        Coal 0.64
        Hydro 0.84
        Biomass 2.00
        Nuclear 3.10
        Geothermal 12.50
        Wind 52.48
        Solar 968.,00

          • Steve Wright :

            Thanks Willem,
            The comment box trimmed that $/mw column from my submission. Ah, technology.

            John,
            Your rhetoric was ‘wobbly’. But that’s okay, we all do it sometimes. Steve not Steven BTW.

        • John Greenberg :

          Steven Wright accuses me of “wobbling again.” I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.

          I certainly understood that Matt Fisken was speaking about subsidies for wind power. What I tried to address is precisely what Mr. Fisken failed to: namely, the subsidies for everything else.

          There are at least two problems with the table Mr. Wright presents, other than the obvious correction provided by Willem Post below (MWH not KWH).

          First, the information provided is a snapshot: these are subsidies for one year. But many of these other energy sources, as I pointed out above, have enjoyed subsidies for 50 years or more. Wind turbines have not. That alone creates a significantly tilted playing field.

          Second, the subsidies listed include only direct taxpayer subsidies like the production tax credit. But other sources enjoy multiple other sources of subsidization. For example, the existing generation of US nuclear plants was built during the 60s and 70s when there was a 10% investment tax credit (ITC), meaning that taxpayers subsidized 10% of the cost of capital. The ITC was later repealed, but it wouldn’t have been included on this list in any case. But those purchasing power from those nuclear plants still get the benefit of lowered cost thanks to the government’s contribution to plant capital costs.

          As a second example, all nuclear plants since the 1950s have enjoyed the insurance subsidy of the Price-Anderson (PA) Act, which requires the industry to sell insure up to a point, but then requires taxpayers to underwrite the remaining risks. Without PA, nuclear plants would all close. These and many other forms of subsidization add significant amounts to those shown by EIA.

          I reiterate the point I’ve been making: to properly understand the comparative economics of different energy sources, one must at least attempt to fully understand ALL cost factors including government subsidies, externalized costs, etc. Failure to do so may result in fine rhetoric which some will find convincing, but it does not constitute honest argument.

  2. Sam Lincoln :

    How can one really know what the best energy generation system is when we don’t know how much it’s costing us, strictly relating to out of pocket cost, not weighing other non-monetary costs. In the fall I sent requests to five media outlets in Vermont asking them to publish information about each type of electricity generation used by our utilities in Vermont (nuclear, wind, solar, biomass, hydro, natural gas), how much they’re subsidized, how much their power costs our utilities, how many people they employ etc… I’d really like to know what these things cost on a per kw basis before I make up my mind that I’m for or against wind (or any other generation source).

  3. Peter Romans :

    Mr. Benning’s requirement for data is remarkable. VPIRG, CLF, Shumlin, Klein have no use for hard evidence. Their assertions are simply assertions and scientifically unsubstantiated. Our best response should always be, “show us the evidence”.

  4. John Greenberg :

    To Senator Benning:

    First, I certainly agree with Mr. Benning’s assertion that “we consider big wind as one tool in a toolbox full of alternative energy tools, rather than a means unto itself ….” I don’t know anyone who argues that wind power is a panacea or, in Mr. Benning’s rather sarcastic phrasing: “the magical silver bullet that will solve our electric needs and cure man’s contribution to global pollution.”

    Second, what Mr. Benning appears to entirely ignore is that the very processes he’s asking for — “a plan for evaluating whether use of this particular tool is appropriate in Vermont’s unique and historically cherished mountain environment” and “a comprehensive state energy plan that defines the proper tools for achieving our energy and carbon-reduction goals” have been repeatedly done in Vermont.”

    I don’t usually quote myself, but since I just addressed this yesterday in response to another column – “Wind moratorium bill unveiled at statehouse” – I will do so below.

    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).

    • David Bell :

      John,

      Good points. On this site at least, the biggest argument against wind turbines seems to be that people just don’t like the sound/sight of them.

      Though, given that Shumlin was re-elected, this does not seem to be the popular opinion among most Vermonters.

      I am curious, did the Senators opposing wind energy really rely solely on their own judgement, or was their any sort of evidence to support their argument?

      • John Greenberg :

        I’ll let them answer that question.

        • Glad you asked. When one personally sees, from both the air and up close on the ground, the physical destruction needed to install ridgeline industrial wind towers, it does not take a scientist to recognize that this particular form of energy generation has a major drawback.

          In the face of that destruction, let’s ask some simple questions. Now that Sheffield and Lowell have been installed, wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what they are providing us? Shouldn’t we determine how much actual power is provided annually, as opposed to how much was predicted? Shouldn’t we determine how much carbon offset we are actually getting, as opposed to proclaimed estimates by prospective developers?

          David: I have never made an argument about sight or sound. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Studies and residents who live close by are starting to raise issues about sound, but I personally have never claimed it. With Lowell and Sheffield now operating, however, we have the ability to collect data to confirm or dispel that concern. If the concern is real, we need set back requirements to deal with it.

          The mere creation of a “siting commission” in response to public uproar after these projects were begun is prima facie evidence that there is a flaw in our current siting process.

          John: no studies whatsoever have been done on the data that is now being generated at Sheffield and Lowell. Your contention that “years of detailed analysis” has already been conducted elsewhere does not cite specific studies, so it is impossible to respond to that statement. I would like to see empirical data from these two plants compared to the annual output from, say, Coventry’s landfill methane system or Ryegate’s biomass system. Then at least we’d be comparing base load versus intermittent, renewable versus renewable.

          But even if studies have been done elsewhere, every one of these projects is preceded by a MET tower application, because developers know every mountain is unique. Developers don’t rely on studies “done elsewhere” and neither should we.

          Consider that wind is the fuel that runs these machines. Fuel economy on the plains of Kansas is very different from the fuel economy on Vermont’s ridgelines. One may be a great investment; the other not so much. If other renewables, run on different fuels, make more sense for Vermont, wouldn’t it be prudent for us to pursue them instead? Limited tax dollars and rate dollars should be spent wisely, even when it comes to renewables.

          It takes time to figure all of this out. Right now we have a glut of power available to us on the New England grid. We all know Vermont’s tiny population, by itself, will not reverse climate change. So can’t we pause long enough to make sure what we are doing makes sense from both an economic and an environmental standpoint?

          Lowell and Sheffield are now using existing transmission lines. They are extremely close to the location in Newark where Seneca Mountain Wind wants to add another 35 towers. According to VELCO, transmission line capacity has been reached in that area of the state. This means infrastructure for new construction will have to be considered. Should we be building ANY new generation plants without first having adequate transmission infrastructure?

          Lowell provides a rather interesting problem. Perched literally across 3.5 miles of ridgeline, the towers themselves are built upon massive pads. Tower nine, for instance, is 100 feet tall. It has a pad 180′ by 180′ at the top. If climate change is bringing us more violent and more frequent weather events, what happens when an Irene positions itself over that pad for a couple of days? Shouldn’t this be considered by a district environmental commission, rather than the Public Service Board?

          What other form of energy production in Vermont has asked for a permit to take endangered species?

          My point in all this? Let’s not destroy another mountaintop until we’ve figured out whether this particular tool is right for our renewable energy objectives.

          • Avram Patt :

            Sen. Benning, comparing the capacity factor of a baseload facility like WEC’s Coventry landfill gas plant or Ryegate to wind, or to solar for that matter (which has much lower capacity factor than wind) is disingenuous. First, utilities do not want, cannot use, all baseload power. We do not need baseload plants running unused for parts of every day and every night when demand is low. A utility needs a certain amount of baseload in its portfolio, and then no more.

            Second, there are two landfills in Vermont, one of which is likely to close soon. The Coventry plant is using all the gas produced; there basically ain’t no more, and with the recycling bill the Legislature passed last year, there will be less and less landfill gas in the future. As you know, there are severe limits on the amount of new biomass electrc generation, as future biomass facilities are likely to be used for thermal purposes, not electric generation. So after we have maxed the landfill and biomass resources for their small contribution, where is our future power coming from to meet the estimated 30% increase in electric demand that electric vehicles may create? If we ban wind, what, exactly, are the alternatives, at this late date?

          • Rob Roy Macgregor :

            I’m curious to know, Mr Benning, if you’ve ever seen a mountaintop coal removal site? If not it might provide some much needed perspective. And if you have hiked up what used to be a mountain to such a site, why is it that you’d propose a moratorium on wind development and not a moratorium on coal use? We’ve certainly had no qualms about burdening the coal mining states with our energy demands.

            If you want to gather data on the impacts and performance of Vermont’s existing wind projects cut to the chase – it would make much more sense to pursue authorization and funding for such studies rather than a moratorium, which in its proposed time frame is pointless without the studies anyway.

            No projects have been proposed in Rutland and Windham counties as of yet, at least as far as Sec. 248 CPG permit applications are concerned. Reunion has yet to apply for a permit to site met towers on Grandpa’s Knob, and Iberdrola has only recently been granted a permit for met towers in Windham. Since there are no projects in the pipeline that would be permitted for another 2-3 years minimum (at the glacial pace with which Vermont permits projects) you’d have more than enough time to gather information from existing projects to inform future permitting decisions.

            Further, there is no “public uproar” over these projects either. The most recent WCAX poll from May 2012 (http://www.wcax.com/story/18604822/poll-where-vt-voters-stand-on-energy-issues) shows the percentage in favor of wind development holding steady at 69%, while opposition is at 17%, about where it’s been for the last 5 or 6 years.
            This is not to say that there are no legitimate causes for concern, but mostly what there is, is a well organized and very vocal opposition good at making their Senators feel the heat, and a group of media outlets playing up what controversy there is.

            Lastly, a “glut” of natural gas generated power in New England is no reason to put off the development of renewables. Natgas has its own carbon and methane emissions issues, and plenty of controversy surrounding its extraction. And although we rely on it to some extent as users of grid-supplied electricity here in Vermont, you don’t seem to be interested in studying the impacts of hydro-fracking, Nor are you accounting for the fact that the price of natgas is artificially cheapened by not having to pay for its external costs.

            I’ve said it before and will repeat it here: we don’t need a moratorium on wind development, we need to replace the fossil fuels we can no longer afford to burn.

          • John Greenberg :

            Senator Benning makes numerous points, many of which have been nicely answered by Avram Patt and Rob Roy MacGregor:

            1) “Physical destruction (is) needed to install ridgeline industrial wind towers…” As Mr. MacGregor points out, this destruction needs to be compared to the despoliation caused by other energy sources. Does Senator Benning really think that natural gas pipelines just lay themselves down neatly in the environment or that oil wells are beautiful? Planning on buying any Fukushima real estate? I understand it’s very cheap right now. The only legitimate discussion of environmental destruction requires comparative consideration of the destruction from alternative sources.

            2) Sheffield and Lowell have just been built, but the Searsburg wind installation has been up and running for years. Moreover, there is data from projects all over the planet.
            Is Senator Benning really suggesting that we need a moratorium after each new installation?

            3) “But even if studies have been done elsewhere, every one of these projects is preceded by a MET tower application, because developers know every mountain is unique. Developers don’t rely on studies “done elsewhere” and neither should we.”

            The intellectual development of mankind depends on relying on studies “done elsewhere.” Without them, we’d need to reinvent all knowledge in every place and in each generation. Intellectual progress depends on taking generalizations based on theoretical models and prior experience and tailoring them to the unique circumstances with which we find ourselves confronted. This seems to be a pretty obvious point, but wind opponents keep demanding that our knowledge be re-created specifically and empirically for each new installation.

            It’s hard to make sense of this demand. If I release a heavy object from a height, I feel no need of a moratorium or a new study to determine whether or not it will fall THIS time in THIS place. That’s the glory of valid generalization.

            4) Senator Benning, like many others, seems to be in love with “baseload power.” Avram Patt has nicely answered his point, but let me add this. Energy demand is not constant: it varies enormously depending on the hours of the day (higher during the day than late at night) and by seasons (higher in summer and winter than in spring or fall). Utilities must match supply and demand: too much supply would result in wasted power (at least with current utility-scale technology); too little would mean blackouts.

            5) “We all know Vermont’s tiny population, by itself, will not reverse climate change.” There are three problems with this statement.

            First, climate change is not the only environmental issue, especially when it comes to production of usable energy. The Clean Air Act was passed 40 years ago, before anyone dreamed of climate change, because coal plants and cars were making our air un-breathable. Fukushima and Chernobyl have amply demonstrated the environmental downsides of nuclear reactors. Just today, there is a call in the Guardian for a world treaty on mercury, which is just one of the many nasty by-products of burning coal. Our society has been built around massive amounts of highly polluting energy. With or without climate change, this is NOT sustainable.

            Conveniently, it happens that fighting climate change and reversing many of these other forms of pollution requires the same actions: greater efficiency, maximizing conservation, and switching to renewable sources of energy.

            Second, Vermont alone will not reverse climate change, but it can reverse its own contribution to it. The single can I recycle will hardly make a dent in either our waste problems or our energy problems, but the tons of cans we ALL recycle bring us a significant step closer to solving both.

            Third, this line of thinking always reminds me of a Talmudic story about two rabbis in a rowboat. One takes out a drill and begins working on a hole, telling the other: “Don’t worry, it’s just on my side of the boat.”

            6) Senator Benning writes: “It takes time to figure all of this out. … Let’s not destroy another mountaintop until we’ve figured out whether this particular tool is right for our renewable energy objectives.” The nub of the question is HOW we are going to figure this out.

            For at least 25 years, Vermont’s legislature has mandated the studies I mentioned — Five Year Electric Plans, Comprehensive Energy Plans, etc. — and the Department of Public Service has been dutifully been studying all of the energy alternatives to us. During that time, successive legislatures have refined the directions under which the Public Service Board judges utility projects: Vermont now demands contributions from renewable sources, requires least cost planning, etc. As I pointed out above, these things have been happening not only in Vermont, but across the country and, in fact, right around the world. All of this has evolved over time, without a moratorium.

            But Senator Benning appears to want to ignore all of this and begin anew, without offering any convincing reason for doing so. I’m suggesting that’s the WRONG WAY to “figure this out.”

            Please make no mistake. I am NOT arguing that the current process is flawless, or that it can’t be improved. Will Wiquist has made a series of interesting suggestions in another op-ed in today’s Vermont Digger; I made some in a previous set of comment on this proposed moratorium. If the legislature decides to really re-examine the whole process, I think we might find ways we all agree to improve it.

            So I am arguing that we should respect the work Vermont has already done, find and fix the flaws we find in the process (assuming we can agree on what they are), and move forward as we always have, organically and learning as we go. Accepting my view means accepting the project which we launched decades ago: namely, legislative guidance to a PSB process for actual project selection, rather than Senator Benning’s call for an artificial (and frankly pointless) moratorium.

          • Rob Roy Macgregor :

            Correcting myself : Reunion does have met tower permits for the Grandpa’s Knob project, but has not yet applied for a specific project permit.

      • David,

        “the biggest argument against wind turbines seems to be that people just don’t like the sound/sight of them.”

        Here are a few more reason:

        IWT systems, such as on Lowell Mountain, are 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.

        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.

        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.

        • David Bell :

          Willem,

          No, I said ” On this site at least, the biggest argument against wind turbines seems to be that people just don’t like the sound/sight of them.”

          If you have legitimate reasons, there is no need to deliberately quote me out of context.

          • Steve Wright :

            David,
            You must have missed mine–and can you reference those who have made comments re the visual intrusion? Senator Benning was writing about the damage to the mountain not about the looks of the turbines.

            Have you seen the Lowell site? Take a look at the Ridgeprotectors ad on this site–VT Digger–or go to Vermontridges.org, or send me your address and I will send you the pictures of the Lowell destruction. Yes, I said “destruction,” and it’s not only ugly it has changed forever the physical and biological functions of at least 3.2 miles of the Lowell Mountains ridgeline. Does it make sense to you to alter forever a 450,000,000 year-old mountain range in order to keep it from being altered by climate change? That seems to be one of the arguments for tearing up portions of the landscape.

            I look at the Lowell turbines every day and they are impressive reminders of really stupid decision-making. They are my motivation for working to see this never happens again anywhere else in the state. If we want real climate change action then we need to address the sources of emissions not just be satisfied with building more renewable energy. Humans need to find ways to use less energy not continue to expand energy sources. Continued expansion is a ticket to doom.

    • John,

      I just published a new article on THE ENERGY COLLECTIVE which answers a lot of questions about having a moratorium on IWT build-outs.

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

  5. Moshe Braner :

    Problem is that “we” in Vermont are subsidizing the alternative energy that is actually “used” by other states, not us. This is a slippery concept, but basically, other nearby states require their utilities to incorporate set amounts of alternative energy, but they are allowed buy “credits” for such elsewhere instead. Here in VT we do not require such from our utilities (namely GMP), but give out subsidies (and give up the ridgelines) for them to set up the wind turbines. Then they (GMP) turn around and SELL those “credits” to other utilities, enabling those other utilities to actually keep on using fossil fuels. I am not sure, but I think they can do that with Hydro Quebec power too. So we should at least stop bragging about how “green” our power is, since we’ve sold off those bragging rights. The legislature considered disallowing such “sales” last year, but failed to act.

    • John Greenberg :

      You have it exactly backwards. We’re not subsidizing those other states. It’s the ratepayers in those other states who are paying the subsidies, not Vermonters. Their utilities are buying the RECs; our utilities are selling them.

      • Steve Wright :

        And by selling the RECS the utility is voiding the ‘renewableness’ of the energy produced. You can’t sell the renewable attributes and keep calling the energy renewable. So, GMP and any other utilities who are selling RECs to, e.g., a Massachusetts coal-burning utility are actually causing more regional carbon;ghg emissions. Funny thing is, though, in Vermont selling the RECs and meeting renewable production goals in their source portfolios IS LEGAL! (The only state in the union as such).

        What a scam, generated–pun intended–by the utilities. Was the SPEED Program Robert Dostis’s gift to GMP when he was Chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, before GMP hired him to knock off the Lowell mountains in the name of renewable energy?

        Which brings us back to the question: What the heck are we trying to accomplish? It’s really not all that complicated.

        If we Vermont citizens are trying to take effective responsible action against climate change–and I believe we should–then we need be attacking the state’s emissions at their respective sources: transportation, home/structural heating, agriculture and commercial/industrial processes. This is where those pesky little carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas molecules are produced and this is where we should go to reduce them. Building more renewable capacity may be good for the utilities but it has little or no effect on reducing carbon/ghg emissions. Let’s keep our mountains and get busy on the emissions scene.

      • John,

        Vermont is destroying its ridge lines for the benefit of GMP and other states which will not be destroying THEIR ridge lines.

        • Nick Olcott :

          Willem, Your absolutely correct other states will not be destroying THEIR ridge lines, they will be REMOVING them and the mountains below only to dump whats been removed into a nearby valley, or pushing natural gas into water wells, or flattening 1000+ acre tracts for man made hydro dams I could go on but I hope the point was taken.

  6. Don Arnold :

    If you understand that intermittent wind causes base load coal plants to ramp their output up or down more quickly than they were designed to,(causing more carbon emissions), and you know that this coal is domestic,(not imported) than you know that wind has no positives to balance the considerable negatives. Bet it only takes one site visit for a well informed person to change his mind.

    • Avram Patt :

      Facts please? No baseload plant, of any kind, coal, nuclear, gas, ramps up or down. By definition they run almost all the time. Natural gas can be baseload but it is also the primary fuel source dispatched on the New England grid system to follow fluctuations in demand. Some Natural gas plants are ramped up during high demand and ramp down when demand subsides. This happens regularly, every day, with wind generation on the grid, or not. It’s based on the time of day, day of the week, season of the year, and the weather. When wind energy is being generated on the New England grid, it mostly means less natural gas generation needs to be dispatched to meet the regional demand, therefore less finite resources used and less carbon emissions.

      On a related subject, the current abundance of natural gas which we benefit from is mostly thanks to hydrofracking in places like Pennsylvania. Of course Vermont is the first state in the country to ban fracking within our own borders. The Vermont Senate now considering a wind moratorium last year voted 27-1 in favor of banning fracking in Vermont. To now ban wind development is essentially saying thanks for allowing fracking, Pennsylvania.

      • Avram,

        Without wind energy on the grid, the economic scheduling of generators is repeated with very minor changes each day.

        With a little annual wind energy on the grid, say less than 3%, the above scheduling is very little affected.

        With increasing annual wind energy on the grid, say 3-15 percent, increasing adjustments to the scheduling have to be made 24/7/365, AND increasing capacities of quick-ramping CCGTs and OCGTs need to be in spinning mode and part-load-ramping mode the balance the wind energy.

        Some grids have wind energy accommodation fees between 5 -10 $/MWh that are charged to IWT system owners. Those fees may not cover all the the costs. Here is a summary:

        Wind Energy Integration Fees
         
        For a proper evaluation of wind energy cost, the total would have to include not only the LCOE of the wind turbines, but also all or part of the LCOEs of:

        – Increased regulating plant operation for grid stability; extra fuel and CO2
        – Increased spinning plant operation; extra fuel and CO2
        – Increased start/stop operations; extra fuel and CO2
        – Increased part-load operation; less efficient, extra fuel and CO2
        – Increased part-load-ramping operation; less efficient, extra fuel and CO2
        – Increased wear and tear of equipment of generating units  
        – staffing, fueling and operation of most of the existing generating units
        – less than optimum economical scheduling of plants due to wind energy on the grid
        – less economical operation of existing plants due to wind energy on the grid
        – expanded transmission and distribution systems
        – increased grid management systems, staffing and operation
        – increased weather and wind speed forecasting systems, staffing and operation

        Rarely are any of these costs identified, quantified and charged to wind turbine owners as wind energy integration fees, i.e., they are getting a free ride.  

        The above costs are not yet separately identified and quantified by grid operators, generator owners and utilities, because heretofore they have been relatively minor. But as wind energy percent increases, they will be come increasingly greater expenses, as experienced by other grids with greater than about 3% annual wind energy.
         
        Grid operators typically add their extra costs to the invoices sent to utilities and generator owners that supply the grid.

        Utilities typically add their extra costs to their other costs to justify rate increases. How generator owners will be compensated for the adverse impact of wind energy on the economics of their generators remains an open question.

        Legislators, who wear the “RE” label to get votes, and utilities, dependent on rate increases from legislatures, are loathe to investigate, as it would be considered adverse to RE. They usually work together to make these costs “disappear”, i.e., “socializing” them, by rolling any RE costs mostly into household rate schedules.

        Denmark, an RE role model, has done it for decades and Danish households “enjoy” the highest electric rates in Europe (about 31.5 euro cent/kWh), Germany’s households “enjoy” the second highest rates (about 27 euro cent/kWh), France enjoys the lowest (about 12 euro cent/kWh).

        The lowest-cost wind energy balancing is with hydro plants. Higher cost wind energy balancing is with gas-fired, quick-ramping gas turbines. It is highly unlikely all of the above costs are included in the below wind energy integration fees.

        – Denmark, “borrowing” Norway’s hydro plants, claims the cost at about 1 – 4 euro/MWh
        – Hydro-Quebec, using its hydro plants, charges wind turbine owners $5/MWh. 
        – The Bonneville Power Authority, BPA, using its hydro and gas turbine plants, charges $5.7/MWh.
        – The Netherlands, using its gas turbine plants, charges 10 euro/MWh. 

        The above costs are grossly under-representing the actual costs. It is similar to EirGrid grossly under-representing CO2 emission components in its published data.

        http://www.lawofrenewableenergy.com/2009/07/articles/bpa-issues-decision-on-wind-integration-charge-in-2010-rate-case/ 
        http://www.hydroworld.com/index/display/article-display/354308/articles/hydro-review/volume-26/issue-4/departments/the-leading-edge.html

  7. Don Arnold :

    To address an earlier point, Europe has been listening to the argument and has been backing away from wind for over 5 years now. Germany is worried about grid instability caused by intermittent sources. The largest power outages in the US have been due to grid instability.

  8. Don,
    Thank you for your comments.

    Here are some items you may not be familiar with:

    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 the PV solar systems are.

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

    Germany also exports a little of its variable energy at 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. Because PV solar systems cannot be turned off, any excess energy 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

    The Maine weighted average CF = (42 x 0.353 + 57 x 0.254 + 26 x 0.227 + 132 x 0.238 + 60 x 0.238 + 50.5 x 0.197)/(42 + 57 + 26 + 132 + 60 + 50.5) = 0.247

    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
    – received invalid/deceptive answers from subsidy-chasing IWT project developers and promoters, or
    – were too eager to be politically correct, i.e., not hinder IWT build-outs.

    Below are the averaged CFs in some widely-dispersed geographical areas for the 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

    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 other government entities, when IWT project developers make claims of CFs of 0.32 or greater, these claims should be discounted to at most 0.25, based on ACTUAL PRODUCTION RESULTS. Failure to do this is malfeasance of a public trust, which has legal consequences.
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont

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

    Not just a US-wide fraud, a worldwide fraud. A fraud on top of the fraud known as “man-made climate change.”

    How humiliating for America that the Russian democracy, in Pravda no less, has to point this out to us:

    http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/04-01-2013/123380-global_warming-0/

    “For years, the Elites of the West have cranked up the myth of Man Made Global Warming as a means first and foremost to control the lives and behaviors of their populations. Knowing full well that their produce in China and sell in the West model and its consequent spiral downward in wages and thus standards of living, was unsustainable, the elites moved to use this new “science” to guilt trip and scare monger their populations…”

    New York City once sweltered year-round in tropical heat. Lake Willoughby was once a glacier. But there were no people around to blame for this, alas.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

    “Milankovitch theory describes the collective effects of changes in the Earth’s movements upon its climate, named after Serbian geophysicist and astronomer Milutin Milanković, who worked on it during First World War internment. Milanković mathematically theorized that variations in eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession of the Earth’s orbit determined climatic patterns on Earth through orbital forcing.”

    Ellin Anderson
    Brownington, Vermont
    http://www.125.com

    • David Bell :

      Are you actually contending that every scientific agency of national or international standing is involved in a leak proof conspiracy?

      And that virtually every climatoligist on the planet is just phonying up data for some evil purpose?

    • Greg Mitchell :

      I find it embarrassing that anyone would believe a fact free op-ed from a newspaper famous for lying in service of whichever master it happens to serve at the moment over the most respected scientific publications on the planet.

      Additionally, “The difference is that in the natural cycle CO2 lags behind the warming because it is mainly due to the Milankovitch cycles. Now CO2 is leading the warming. Current warming is clearly not natural cycle. The earths natural cycles, if human industrial output had not been involved, would have us near or slightly below thermal equilibrium, possibly slightly cooling.”
      http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-cycle

      But I suppose this is just another one of those government sources the author of your op-ed thinks is out to enslave us all.

  10. In the small country of Scotland, only three times larger than Vermont, there is growing panic over the huge number of wind turbine installations that have been put in place (1,293 turbines in 225 wind farms), and along with that, the millions of trees being cut down to make way for them. A median estimate is roughly ten million trees lost to date.

    http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2011/07/31/millions-of-trees-felled-for-wind-farms/

    Since the average tree absorbs 50 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year and produces 250 lbs. of oxygen, the overall result in that country is that one-quarter of a million tons of carbon dioxide yearly is no longer being removed from the atmosphere, and two and one-quarter million tons of oxygen is no longer being produced. There is no way this can be offset by wind power.

    Richard Brodie
    Orleans, Vermont

    • Nick Olcott :

      Richard, I think you need to take a look at math in the article you linked. 1.25m and 25m is a VERY large difference even cutting that in half again is still huge. Using your figures that would be 7,733 trees cut per turbine! Also considering the article mentions Scotland is home to Europe’s largest wind turbine farm. That farm is 600 hectares (roughly 1500 acres) while thats big its not really THAT big. There was once a time these Country’s followed our lead now we are playing catch up.

      • Nick,

        The following entirely different approach confirms my earlier figure of 7,733 trees lost per turbine, which you characterized as “huge.”

        The large Scottish windfarm you refer to, namely the Whitelee windfarm near Glasgow, spreads 140 turbines out over 1,500 acres. Assuming that it is located in one of the forested areas included in Scotland’s “5,000 to 10,000 hectares of woodland that has been destroyed for windfarm development”, and using an average figure of 700 for number of trees per acre (as estimated by various reforestation organizations) we can conclude that just this one Scottish windfarm could have denuded the landscape of over a million trees. And since it boasts 140 turbines, that amounts to 7,500 trees cleared per turbine.

        Scotland has a large tourist industry. Read this article and then contemplate the similar disastrous consequences for Vermont as wind farms continue to blight the Green Mountain scenery:

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2221277/Scottish-tourism-chiefs-admit-wind-farms-drive-holidaymakers-away.html

        • Nick Olcott :

          Richard, While I applaud your your creativity with numbers I would like you and the other readers here to understand that while yes trees were cut to build that project it was built primarily on a moor (Moor or moorland, an uncultivated upland area that is characterized by low growing vegetation on acidic soils). It is very easy to do a current and past comparison with google maps or other methods to clearly see that the area had VERY FEW trees to begin with and that the majority of the project needed no clearing at all.

          I can understand part of your math issues as you state “Assuming it is located in one of the forested areas” To assume is to guess however you seem to gloss over the fact that the project is built on a moor having much much less tree density than forestland.

          You go on to say you are using an average tree number of 700 per acre(remember much less in the middle of a moor) however the research I have read shows and average of 450 per acre.

          http://www.americanforests.org/assumptions-and-sources/

          Does windpower have its problems? YES but lets try to stick to facts instead of exaggeration and fear mongering.

          • I saw that 450 number as well, and an even lower one of 365. But I also saw estimates of 800 to 1,000. So if you want to call chosing a median figure of 700 “creativity with numbers”, then I would call that creativity with words.
            Sorry if I made a wrong assumption about the Scottish windfarm in question, but the point is valid as it applies to the Green Mountains, which are (soon to be were) covered with that “high growing” form of vegetation known as trees.

    • Avram Patt :

      It’s always useful to consider actual facts when discussing wind energy:

      * The construction phase of First Wind’s 40 megawatt 16 turbine project in Sheffield involved the clearing of a total of approximately 63 acres, for the turbine sites, roads and everything else.

      * Upon completion of construction, approximately 39 of those acres are being allowed to re-green. When I visited the site in the fall, most of the cleared area was greened over and brush and trees will continue to grow into that over the next few years.

      * Total project footprint after construction: approximately 24 acres, including turbine sites and roads.

      • Avram,

        The impacted area is much greater, as people “living” within about a mile are disturbed by the noise which also adversely affects their health due to lack of sleep.
        Young children, infants and pregnant women are especially affected.

  11. Kevin Jones :

    John Greenberg your criticisms of Moshe Braner’s comments are off the mark. Moshe’s statement that Vermonter’s are subsidizing the renewable energy used by customers in other state’s is largely correct. While Vermont utilities are selling REC’s out of state and using those revenues to reduce the costs of SPEED and Standard Offer resources many of these contracts are above market even with the REC sales. This is clearly the case with the Standard Offer (aka Feed in Tariff) resources. Vermont customers are paying significant premiums for these resources even after netting off the REC revenue. This begs the question as to why Vermonters are subject to higher prices for the right to sell renewable energy to out of state customers. Clearly someone is benefiting from these transactions unfortunately it is not Vermont ratepayers or the environment.

  12. Kevin Jones :

    Avram your insinuation that a wind moratorium in Vermont is support for fracking is ridiculous. The reality is that the unanimity among Vermont utilities in opposition to an RPS is what is really supporting fossil-fueled generation in the Northeast. When a Vermont utility sells the RECs associated with a renewable project that utilities customers are really buying brown power (gas, oil, coal, etc) since they have assigned the renewable energy to customers out of state. Two utilities cannot consume the same green energy at the same time. As you should be aware the more SPEED resources the state produces the higher the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The NEPOOL generator tracking system accounts for all of this and if Vermont required environmental labels on the utility bills then all Vermont customers would see that the SPEED and Standard Offer resources produce significant greenhouse gas emissions since the renewable energy is not consumed by Vermonters. If all Vermont wind projects are selling their RECs out of state please explain why a moratorium on Wind would result in Vermonters supporting more fracking? Also please explain why if preventing fracking is a concern of yours why you would not support converting the sham SPEED program into an RPS like all of the other states in the Northeast currently have?

    • Avram Patt :

      Kevin: I wasn’t insinuating anything but rather making an open statement which I stand behind. Your focus on the fact that utilities are selling RECs outside Vermont is well established. The fact is that wind and other new renewable generation located within Vermont’s borders has added to the total amount of real, actual renewable energy on the New England grid that Vermont is a part of, whether the renewable attributes of the energy Vermont utilities purchase are claimed in Vermont or in another state. Those renewables have reduced the demand for natural gas required by the New England grid. I believe utilities’ positions on an RPS vary a bit and are certainly more nuanced than you state. WEC has always assumed that an RPS might be established in Vermont at some point and that over time WEC might need to retire some of our RECs rather than selling them. While we do not claim our resources as renewable in our own portfolio, we have contributed to increasing the supply of renewables on the New England grid we are connected to, and ratepayers in other states are sharing the cost of that with our own members who made the investment.

      • Avram,

        The Vermont, subsidy-chasing, wind energy oligarchs, aided and abetted by legislators, such as Shumlin, Cheney, Klein, Lyons, etc., are destroying Vermont’s ridge lines to reduce CO2 emissions in New England, and the oligarchs are receiving free RECs which they sell to out-of-state entities so THEY do not have to destroy THEIR ridge lines for IWT systems.

        If that is so good, why not increase the REC program 57 fold and destroy ALL of Vermont’s ridge lines and use ALL of Vermont’s “wind energy resource”, a la Blittersdorf, who would have Vermont use 200 miles of its ridge lines, enough for 57 Lowell Mountains at $160 million each, for a total of $9.14 billion?

        The RECs are a perverse, Vermont-damaging RE subsidy and should be eliminated.

        Better yet, IWTs should be banned in Vermont, and RE subsidies should be shifted to

        – increased energy efficiency of motor vehicles and to

        – build zero-energy residential and other buildings.

        These two CO2 emitters are responsible for 75% of Vermont’s CO2 emissions, whereas power generation is responsible for less then 4% percent.

        Such a rebalancing of priorities is at least 5 years overdue.

  13. David Bell :

    Steve,

    When I said most comments I have read, why do you and Willem seem to think I meant every single comment ever made?

    I did not say aesthetic concerns were not important or relevant, I said this seems to be the main concern for many commenters on this site. Sorry, if you felt my comment was dismissing this concern, I just feel it should not be the most important issue.

    I have seen work done to create wind turbines, as well as what goes on in oil drilling and coal mining. None of it is what I would call pretty.

  14. John Sales :

    VERMONT’S WIND MORATORIUM IS ILL ADVISED

    In the three years of Vermont’s proposed wind moratorium, production in North Dakota’s Bakken average fracked shale well will decline 80% (an average 40% decline/year). The main thing preventing U. S. energy shortfall, Fracked Shale, is not going well: Huge rig numbers, little need for additional exploration, inherent fast decline in the wells, strong demand, and artificially low pricing promote waste and argue for depletion within 20 Years. With the only energy source large enough to convert to renewables gone, energy will go critical, and timing is critical. An all-out effort with massive fees on fossil fuels and rebates on renewables is imperative.
    New Bakken wells produce less than the first drilled, and are barely economic. Those in poorer shale basins and marginal areas are not economic – only a small % of Eagleford’s wells recoup drilling expenses. With better alternatives, this would shut rigs down, but alternatives are few. Escalating prices will keep them drilling and massive over-fracking can keep them producing dregs. Black market prices will sink the economy. Shift to Tar Sand Oil may tank the environment, and tar sand oil will remain economic only with rising prices.
    Before fracked shale, U. S. conventional oil production was about half of demand and declining. With both fracked shale and conventional oil production declining, America will be almost without domestic production in 20 years. Meanwhile, China is locking in Middle East conventional production,that will last decades longer than fracked shale’s. The petroleum industry and government are telling us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. We drilled 4,200 Bakken wells in six years – of course production increased a 100 fold – that’s just hype. Peak oil is an 800 pound gorilla, about to get out of its cage – when lower 48 conventional oil peaked in 1970 there were options elsewhere, not now. Including Middle East wars and artificially low gas prices promoting waste, petroleum is subsidized millions to one over renewables.
    Moratorium advocates don’t grasp the alternative. When fracked shale declines, massive over-fracking will ruin groundwater. Escalating oil prices will denude our forests, coal will belch – massive global warming . Renewables are rosy by comparison – even now electric vehicles on renewable power, can drive for a fraction of the cost of gas guzzlers. Converting to renewables with energy from renewables would be like standing in a bucket and trying to lift it. Only excess oil can do it – the window’s closing, and a wind moratorium isn’t common sense: If we take this warning seriously, go for massive renewables immediately, and I am wrong, our kids will have energy security. If we continue with business as usual, but I’m right, our kids will be in energy hell.

    John Sales
    90 Windywood Road
    Barre, Vermont 05641
    8024760636 [email protected]

    • Rob Macgregor :

      Spot on, Mr Sales. Thank you…

    • John,

      Here are some numbers for perspective:

      World CO2 emissions (in million metric tonnes) increased from 33,160 in 2010 to 33,990 in 2011, an increase of 0.83

      US 6,000 million tonnes in 2011

      VT 8.1 million tonnes in 2011; 75% from buildings and transportation!!!!!!!

      The World’s 2011 increase was 102 times VT’s total emissions in 2011.

      Why should Vermont destroy its ridge lines?

      Pure subsidy chasing and the Vermont RE oligarchy building their subsidized RE businesses that produce expensive, low-quality energy, at the expense of other Vermont households and businesses.

      VT being a “leader” in RE, a la Rep. Klein?

      Why use Chinese PV panels, Spanish Iberdrola and Danish Vestas IWTs?

  15. John Sales :

    Rob,
    thanks for the thanks

    Willem,
    Thanks for the numbers – they are important and and i’m not too good at them. I sure agree with buy local, build local, and that China is running circles around us and thumbing their nose at us. The “sleepers” I think we are missing are turbines in farmers fields and Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) – LFTRs are both scaleable and rampable (build them any size and turn them up and down to meet peaks and valleys in load – you can’t do that with renewables or uranium reactors. I’m 79 – since I don’t think too fast and see too well to type in this small space, instead I’m going to post a few more essays i think are pertinent to this exceptional overall discussion:

  16. The important difference between mining coal on a mountain top and building wind tubine towers is that the latter have a viewshed ruination range of 50 miles or more (far enough to be seen by tourists driving on major highways,)

    Maybe we should be catering to the lack of aesthetic sensiblilties of those who don’t mind seeing Vermont’s beautiful pristine Green Mountains blemished by an ugly industrial facility.

    Why don’t we just hire a sculptor to take the guts out of Vermont Yankee and build a monument to nuclear power on the top of a mountian where everyone can see it?

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