Maroni: A different side of Bernie

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Carol Maroni of Craftsbury.

As a supporter of Bernie Sanders I am floored by his lack of knowledge on the realities of ridgeline wind. In his interview on VPR’s “Vermont Edition,” Sanders states, “We have got to move as rapidly as we can to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel into energy efficiency and into sustainable energies, including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass. But not excluding wind!”

Bernie doesn’t seem to understand that wind (and solar) are intermittent renewable resources that do not replace fossil fuels. Battery storage capability yet to be developed is needed before intermittent energy can be integrated into the transmission system in a way that allows for it to replace fossil fuels. Currently grid instability issues caused by the energy production at Sheffield and Lowell are resulting in significant restrictions in the energy allowed on the grid from those projects. This is not a new problem for industrial wind but has been well documented in other areas of the country like the Pacific Northwest, where turbines have been curtailed to the point of shutdown due to the grid instability issues.

Bernie also believes that a moratorium on wind would send the wrong signal regarding Vermont’s commitment to renewable energy and would be a step backward on climate change action. Is Bernie not acquainted with Vermont’s fundamentally flawed SPEED Program?

Essentially we’re increasing our Vermont carbon footprint by destroying intact ecosystems building wind projects in Vermont so our neighboring states won’t have to. Is Bernie blind to the benefits of Vermont’s intact ecosystems in combating global warming?

This program allows Vermont utilities to sell renewable energy credits to out-of-state programs rather than retiring them in Vermont. In doing so, wind power in Vermont cannot legally be called green. On the contrary the green renewable energy credits (RECs) in Vermont have become a commodity in itself as our neighboring New England states buy Vermont RECs to avoid fines for not meeting their own state renewable energy goals. Essentially we’re increasing our Vermont carbon footprint by destroying intact ecosystems building wind projects in Vermont so our neighboring states won’t have to. Is Bernie blind to the benefits of Vermont’s intact ecosystems in combating global warming?

While Bernie rags on the big fossil fuel companies, he ignores the fact that industrial wind represents big business as well. Incentivized by large federal production tax credits, large corporations build industrial scale wind projects to gain the benefit of huge tax incentives and depreciation schedules that make these wind projects profitable even without producing any power. Making business decisions to benefit corporate stockholders is what big business does in a free enterprise. What is missing here is the checks and balances that should come from the legislative process. Unfortunately in Vermont and in Washington we have legislators just pushing the agenda forward with all speed and no controls … wanting to appear green and needlessly contributing to the degradation of our environment, adding to the underlying cause of global warming, and leaving us environmentally, economically and aesthetically poorer.

But what is most concerning to me is that Bernie’s comment on this issue has shown me a different side of Bernie. That is, his total disregard for well-documented facts; his digging his heels in and using his influence to blindly push this agenda forward; and his inability to consider the benefits of taking a reasonable pause to allow time to learn the truth. This leads me to ask: Is this the way Bernie approaches all the decisions he makes in Washington?

Comments

  1. timothy price :

    “…has shown me a different side of Bernie. That is, his total disregard for well-documented facts;…..blindly push this agenda forward; and his inability to consider the benefits of taking a reasonable pause to allow time to learn the truth. ”

    Oh brother, when you heard him still supporting the 9/11 Commission Report, you should have waked up. Bernie cares little for the truth if it does not benefit his friends. Now, exactly who his friends are isn’t always clear but we can be pretty sure about a few. It is a dark time for us.

  2. Brava! Your opinion states it so very articulately Carol: Beloved Bernie’s misguided, uninformed and falacious opposition to the Moratorium reveals he has foresaken principles (i.e.protecting the People from voracious corporate appetites)for which Vermonters have long trusted him.
    No more.
    Worse, Bernie underestimates Vermonters’ clear-sightedness…We see his absolute politicized abandonment of facts, in favor of abiding by indisputable evidence that IWT (industrial wind towers)on Vermont mountain ridges are epitaphs to our mountains, wildlife, headwaters and health.
    Trust, such as Bernie once enjoyed ours, is earned over time,it is renewed by deeds…Trust in Bernie is not immutable, not to be abused.

  3. I think you might be attributing more agency to Bernie Sanders than necessary. Our politicians, local and national, spend very little time on factual analysis and exist in a bubble of briefs and talking points. Bernie is getting old and constantly bombarded by issues he needs to react to and make statements about.

    His recent statements about wind, most likely, are the result of someone on his staff’s opinions, not anything Bernie actually believes. It’s not like he’s been poring over Willem Post’s figures and looking over NREL topo map assessments, you know? He’s just doing an impossible job.

    • Carol Maroni :

      Justin,
      Thank you for the reminder about politicians and talking points… rather than indept analysis. If Bernie is doing an impossible job then maybe it’s time for him to step aside? Carol

  4. Robbin Clark :

    Great letter Carol, Bernie’s true colors are shining through. He is quite the professional political puppeteer. He is pushing for big business and has forgotten the about the middle class. We have tried to reach out to Bernie on several occasions and he has refused to meet with us. He still has a lot to learn about industrial wind and it’s problems. Not to mention that Vermont does not use fossil fuel for electricity generation. The best politician will be someone that will listen and not just bully his agenda through. Bernie has lost his way. Maybe it’s time to think about term limits.

  5. Jamal Kheiry :

    Ms. Maroni,

    In this instance it appears that one important facet of Sen. Sanders’ vision for the nation doesn’t sit well with many of those who put him in office. As often becomes the case with those who reside in Washington D.C. for a term or two, his tendency leans toward siding with his vision (and the special interests who support it and him), rather than with those upon whom the vision must be imposed. The term “local control” begins to be annoying to federal lawmakers before too long.

  6. Karl Riemer :

    Falsehoods repeated don’t become less false. Bernie hears you, plus he hears people who actually know what they’re talking about. He spoke up, about an issue he’d rather not, to counteract “total disregard for well-documented facts”, of which this is a well-rehearsed example. The fact you were a Bernie supporter doesn’t mitigate the fact you’re now a fossil fuel or fission advocate (blindly pushing forward their agenda), parroting irrelevant nonsense and blatant distortion. Face this fact: when the chips are down and decisions aren’t black and white, you prefer the clarity of reactionary right-wing rhetoric. You labor for whom you despise.

    • Carol Maroni :

      Karl, In your post you accuse me of …. “parroting irrelevant nonsense and blatant distortion”. And suggest that I “Face this fact: when the chips are down and decisions aren’t black and white, you prefer the clarity of reactionary right-wing rhetoric. You labor for whom you despise”.

      Wow, To respond to your comments I will quote a friend in a recent op-ed about Gun Safety or gun control (Hardwick Gazette Wed. 2-6-12)

      “Words matter. An essential strength of a well-functioning society is the ability to frame important policy issues in a clear, objective and dispassionate manner. When positions are distorted with inective, allegations of consipiracy and personal innuendo, the quality of the discussion and the likelihood of consensus deteriorates.”

      We’re all in this together. Let’s keep the debate to the issues, discuss the facts and learn something from each other. Carol

    • Carol Maroni :

      Karl,
      In your post you state: “The fact you were a Bernie supporter doesn’t mitigate the fact you’re now a fossil fuel or fission advocate (blindly pushing forward their agenda), parroting irrelevant nonsense and blatant distortion. Face this fact: when the chips are down and decisions aren’t black and white, you prefer the clarity of reactionary right-wing rhetoric”.
      Rather than demonizing me, Let’s frame the discussion in a clear objective and dispassionate manner that brings us to a quality of discussion where we might learn the facts. Carol

  7. walter moses :

    To Carol Maroni, We are talking politics here, about a consummate politician. My advice would be to follow the money trail flowing from big industrial wind. It is easy with Shumlin and his electric power bedfellows. Now, try it with Bernie.

    • Carol Maroni :

      Wow, Mr. Moses, are you saying that maybe Bernie’s been bought? I do think the “green” in industrial wind is more about the cash than the environment.

  8. timothy price :

    Made my comment at 7:53 am. It is now 6:14 pm and still awaiting moderation. Why don’t you just say that there will be no comments permitted that criticize Bernie? :-)

  9. John Greenberg :

    It’s pretty remarkable to see the author of this diatribe accuse Bernie Sanders of “total disregard for well-documented facts” given that Ms. Maroni begins by stating: “Bernie doesn’t seem to understand that wind (and solar) are intermittent renewable resources that do not replace fossil fuels.” The fact is, however that power from intermittent renewables DOES displace fossil fuels.

    Ms. Maroni goes on to argue: “Battery storage capability yet to be developed is needed before intermittent energy can be integrated into the transmission system in a way that allows for it to replace fossil fuels,” apparently ignorant of the fact that wind HAS BEEN integrated into transmission systems all across the globe.

    For readers who want a pretty thorough discussion of this issue, please read all 100 comments here: http://vtdigger.org/2013/01/28/sanders/#comments. Here’s a short version, borrowed from my own comments there.
    Two studies will help those interested understand the question better. The first, by Charles Komanoff, makes an essential point: there is an important difference between retiring a fossil fuel plant and simply not using it. Even if no coal or gas plant retires, to the extent they remain idle while wind power generates electricity for the grid, carbon releases to the atmosphere ARE reduced. Komanoff concludes: ” … when wind turbines are operated as parts of an interconnected grid for which the dominant share of energy is provided by generators burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), wind power generation displaces fossil fuel use at a nearly 1-for-1 rate. The amount of fossil fuels “saved” or “avoided” by the wind turbines may be estimated at around 90-95 percent of the fuel that ordinarily would be required to generate the same amount of electricity at fossil-fuel generating plants in the absence of the wind turbines.” The whole study is worth a read: http://www.komanoff.net/wind_power/Wind_Power%27s_Displacement_of_Fossil_Fuels.pdf
    The second was a study for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, actually one of a whole series outlining the effect of dedicating roughly 20-30% of the US grid to wind power. The study for the Eastern US concludes: “Carbon emission reductions in the three 20% wind scenarios do not vary by much, indicating that wind displaces coal in all scenarios and that coal generation is not significantly exported from the Midwest to the eastern United States….”
    Various commenters disputed various aspects of these studies, but the only valid point raised concerned the AMOUNT of penetration by wind projects into a grid. If intermittent energy becomes a large enough grid resource, there CAN be integration issues beyond those accounted for by Komanoff, but we’re not anywhere close to that point in New England, where ALL non-hydro renewables (some of which are not intermittent) collectively constituted .7% of the ISO-NE grid, and that INCLUDES solar, biomass, geothermal, etc.
    Moreover, Vermont is a VERY small player in the New England power grid; its entire peak load is roughly 3%+ of the grid’s output. In addition, no one is suggesting that we meet 100% of that demand with power from utility scale wind turbines. The most ambitious suggestion I know of is contained in VPIRG’s “Repowering Vermont” study, where its most ambitious “strong growth” scenario calls for 28% penetration by wind power. Were this far-reaching goal to be fully realized – and we’re not at all close – Vermont wind farms would then be supplying just 1% of the New England grid‘s power, well below the amounts challenged by those raising the point about integration.
    In short, it’s Ms. Maroni, not Bernie, who shows disregard for documented facts.
    Ms. Maroni’s point about Vermont’s SPEED program is correct, as far as it goes. But she’s missing a number of pertinent points. First, the sale of RECs is not written in stone. The fact that utilities are holding down costs for Vermont ratepayers by selling RECs now does not mean that they will do so for the rest of eternity. I happily join Ms. Maroni, Kevin Jones and others in suggesting that this legislation needs change.
    But again, as noted in a much fuller discussion in the comments section here — http://vtdigger.org/2013/02/11/jones-the-shell-game-in-vermonts-energy-policy/#comments – climate change is not the only environmental problem we confront and a moratorium on wind projects would NOT help us confront it in any way.
    Finally, Ms. Maroni suggests: “While Bernie rags on the big fossil fuel companies, he ignores the fact that industrial wind represents big business as well.” I guess it all depends on what you mean by “big.”
    Green Mountain Power’s parent company Gaz Metro, David Blittersdorf and even Iberdrola would probably be pretty happy to be compared financially to, e.g. Exxon-Mobil. But let’s put this in some perspective. Exxon-Mobil has annual net PROFITS in the $40+ billion range. If you take all of the REVENUES of ALL of the wind companies combined, including pretty sizable companies like Iberdrola, they come to right around that. And that’s including all the revenues of Iberdrola and Gaz Metro, most of which have nothing to do with wind turbines. If, far more plausibly, we added up just the wind-related revenues of all these companies, they would come to a small fraction of Exxon’s profits.
    Wind is indeed a business, but by any reasonable measure, compared to just ONE big fossil fuel company, it simply isn’t “big.”

    • Carol Maroni :

      John,
      Before you discredit my comments about renewable intermittent power replacing fossil fuels I’d suggest you review studies like the “New England Wind Integration Study” sponsored by ISO-NE and also the Electric Power Research Institute’s 2011 “Impacts of Wind Integration.”
      Carol

      • John Greenberg :

        Actually, I HAVE read the New England wind integration study. It supports MY conclusion, not yours. Specifically: “The ISO-NE system presently has a high percentage of gas-fired generation, which can have good flexibility characteristics (e.g., ramping, turn-down). Using the assumed system, the results showed adequate flexible resources at wind energy penetration levels up to 20%.” (We are currently at less than 1%)

        And “Study results showed no need for additional energy storage capacity on the ISO-NE system given the flexibility provided by the assumed system.” (both on page 30).

      • John Greenberg :

        The EPRI study comes to the same conclusion on page 2: “Studies and experience to date have shown that most
        power systems can, on an energy basis, reliably accommodate up to 10%
        wind penetration, with only minor cost and operating impacts.[5][12]” Again, we’re at <1% in New England.

        Your statements discredit themselves. They don't need my help.

        • Greg Bryant :

          This contradicts what is being reported most recently in Vermont news.

          More simply put, what little energy is being provided by wind, is coming online intermittently and is hard to balance, requiring back up sources to to idle and wait, what we are hearing is that it may be worse than was predicted because some of these reserves are not shutting down at all because it is too costly to ramp back up. So power is spinning out the window… nothing to get all heated up about, it just simply doesn’t work, and in fact most likely is making the CO2 problem worse with RECs being sold down south.

          Wind facts are like the bible, you can pick any particular study and twist it to say. (or create your own study, like the wind industry does.)

          But unfortunately, for supporters, truth and logic eventually win out.

          • John Greenberg :

            “This contradicts what is being reported most recently in Vermont news.” You then make a number of claims:
            – “hard to balance”
            – “requiring back up sources to to idle and wait”
            – “worse than was predicted because some of these reserves are not shutting down at all because it is too costly to ramp back up.”
            – “it just simply doesn’t work”
            – “most likely is making the CO2 problem worse with RECs being sold down south”

            I read 6 Vermont news sources daily (Brattleboro Reformer, Rutland Herald, Burlington Free Press, 7 Days, Green Mountain Daily, Vermont Digger) and haven’t seen anything which supports any of your claims, but I’m certainly open to your proving me wrong. Please cite the sources for each of your claims.

        • John,

          Germany has major grid stability problems due to IWT energy in the North and PV solar energy in the South.

          In the North, where are almost all of the IWTs, it started around 3% and became steadily worse gong to the current 7% annual wind energy penetration.

          Texas had the same problems as Germany starting around 4% and getting worse since then.

          “Studies and experience to date have shown that most power systems can, on an energy basis, reliably accommodate up to 10% wind penetration, with only minor cost and operating impacts.[5][12]”

          The person who wrote this must believe in the tooth fairy.

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

    • John,
      “The amount of fossil fuels “saved” or “avoided” by the wind turbines may be estimated at around 90-95 percent of the fuel that ordinarily would be required to generate the same amount of electricity at fossil-fuel generating plants in the absence of the wind turbines.”

      The 90-95% statement is true for most grids with less than 3% annual wind energy on the grid; New England still has less than 1%. However, in case of Lowell, it is not true, because of the 3% additional losses (read CO2 emissions) of the $10.5 million synchronous-condenser system to smooth the voltages of IWT junk energy.

      At greater than 3%, the 90-95 % becomes less and less as more and more wind energy is added to the grid. In Ireland it is about 53% at 17% annual wind energy on the grid.
      It is all explained in these articles which you and others should read.

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

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

  10. Avram Patt :

    Bernie Sanders has been very consistent in his support of commercial scale wind energy in Vermont, dating back to 2004 or so when he was still a Congressman and helped secure funding for Washington Electric Co-op to evaluate our options regarding wind projects we could link with. And that’s a good thing and thank you Bernie! The author of this commentary has just regurgitated misstatements about wind energy that opponents circulate among themselves in a closed loop.

    • Kevin Jones :

      As a longtime and continuing supporter of Senator Sanders I don’t agree with attacks on his integrity over this issue. The debate over the benefits versus the costs of ridgeline wind power in Vermont involves a complex set of issues but also requires a fair amount of value judgements. It is no more fair to attack Bernie’s longstanding commitment to Vermont than it is for Avram Patt to attribute ridgeline wind opponents concerns to “regurgitated misstatements”.

      As Avram well understands, the author of this commentary is spot on in her criticism of the sham Vermont renewable energy policy that allows the “have your cake and eat it too” approach of selling Renewable Energy Credits. You can’t count the same megawatt hour of green energy twice. Since Vermont’s utilities are largely selling all of the RECs from wind projects out of state it is not resulting in a net addition to renewables in the region and it is increasing Vermont’s carbon footprint. Proponents of the status quo who oppose fixing Vermont’s flawed renewable energy policy are the ones making Vermont a laggard in our approach to climate change and honest renewable energy policy. Claiming to be “green,” when you cannot back it up with facts given the sale of renewable energy credits out of state, is a blatant form of cheating. Vermonters and our environment deserve better.

      • John Greenberg :

        “As Avram well understands, the author of this commentary is spot on in her criticism of the sham Vermont renewable energy policy that allows the “have your cake and eat it too” approach of selling Renewable Energy Credits.”

        But she’s also wrong about everything else and her comments are indeed, as Avram correctly notes “just regurgitated misstatements about wind energy that opponents circulate among themselves in a closed loop.”

        • Avram Patt :

          Vermont’s energy policy is not a sham, whether one agrees with the SPEED concept of allowing utilities to sell RECs or not. It would be a sham if utilities were not open and up front that they are selling the RECs, but they disclose this clearly. It would be a sham if Vermonters were not directly getting the economic benefit from the RECs revenue, but all of the RECs revenue reduces the utility’s cost of service and lowers the rates they would otherwise need to charge.

          There has always been an assumption that Vermont might move to a renewable portfolio standard— it was written right into the SPEED statute. So the SPEED program has encouraged utilities to build or lock in long term contracts for renewable sources, even if they can’t yet consider the energy renewable in their own portfolios. It has resulted in Vermont-based generating projects contributing to the growth in renewables on the New England grid. If & when an RPS is established, Vermont utilities will be all set or close to all set to comply, at some cost to ratepayers at that time. But ratepayers in other New England states will have shared in the investment for a period of time, making it financially less burdensome to shoulder for this small state with high rates and relatively few kilowatt hours used by our ratepayers to cover the fixed cost of poles & wires and generation infrastructure..

          I understand Kevin Jones’ concerns and arguments, but I don’t think it’s right to call Vermont’s policy dishonest. It’s all of us ratepayers who benefit from the RECs revenue. For WEC we started planning our transition away from nuclear and fossil fuels about fifteen years ago before there even was a RECs market. Being able to sell all the RECs for a while rewards our members for having supported it, and we will still have some RECs to sell to others if an RPS happens. SPEED is helping Vermont make the transition in a bigger way than we would have otherwise been able to.

          It’s a bit more nuanced than is being portrayed.

          • Kevin Jones :

            If you sell the RECs you cannot then claim you are buying wind energy and you cannot call it renewable or low carbon. The accurate description of a power contract stripped of its RECs is that you are purchasing the New England residual mix which is largely fossil fuel and nuclear. The reason MA and CT energy suppliers will purchase these RECs for 5-6 cents/kwh to meet thier legitimate state renewable mandates is that they are the entity that recieves the green energy. The SPEED and Standard Offer programs are not a transition to a green future, they are a renewable energy illusion since when you examine the books Vermont customers are paying a premium and not recieving any renewable or low carbon energy. It is a shell game that Bernie Madoff would admire.

        • Kevin Jones :

          But if the program design results in Vermonters exporting renewable energy and importing fossil and nuclear in its place is that not a problem that deserves immediate attention? Asking someone to overlook significant development on ridgelines for no public policy benefit given the shell game played with the renewable energy credits is more than a bit perplexing. If the debate is happening in a closed loop then maybe that is because facts are being ignored by those that have something to gain by maintaining the SPEED and Standard Offer illusions.

          • John Greenberg :

            Kevin:

            You’re missing Avram’s most important point: time.

            Utilities build projects which last decades. A project can generate power whose renewable status is sold out-of-state for a few years and then be recognized as an in-state renewable project at a later date when the RECs are no longer being sold. And in the meantime, Vermont ratepayers benefit.

            Pushing this a bit further, it must often be the case that the timing of some elements of a project coincides poorly with that of other elements. For example, thanks to the financial panic, the cost of borrowing has been low in recent years, but paradoxically, lenders have been few and far between. Federal tax credits for renewables have had expiration dates attached to them, making their availability in future years doubtful. This has resulted in a rush to develop NOW, when the credits are available, rather than risking their loss.

            Market pricing for electricity has always been and continues to be incredibly volatile. The same project, developed at the same cost might be well above market at one time, and at or even below market at another. For example, New England wholesale power prices spiked to $150 a MWH earlier this month (New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/16/business/electricity-costs-up-in-gas-dependent-new-england.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1&amp ;) after having averaged around $26 for the months of March through May of last year. In markets this volatile, the sale of RECs can help prevent price spikes to Vermont customers.

            Even as a matter of policy, if decision-makers perceive the price of renewable power to be relatively high, but also relatively flat and the price of market power to be low (at a given moment) but subject to steep rise over time (which WAS the perception not so long ago), then selling RECs for a few years could ease what might otherwise have been the “price shock” of transitioning to renewables. I suspect this may well be what those who designed Vermont’s program were thinking.

            Also, as I have noted to you many times, climate change is NOT the only environmental issue we confront, but it IS the only one on which the sale of RECs has any bearing. When RECs are sold, the power which you keep (correctly) insisting is no longer “green” from the perspective of greenhouse gas emissions IS still green from the perspective that it is not emitting SO2, NO2, or particulates, and not contaminating water, heating rivers, or irradiating its environment. The sale of RECs doesn’t change THESE other pertinent facts.

            I agree with your constantly re-iterated position that it is better environmental policy for Vermont to adopt renewable portfolio standards, and fully internalize the costs of renewables. But energy policy is far broader and more complicated than just this one issue. It’s time you begin to acknowledge that fact.

            P.S. As long as I’m addressing myself to you directly, you never replied to the 7 very specific questions I asked in response to your op-ed here: http://vtdigger.org/2013/02/11/jones-the-shell-game-in-vermonts-energy-policy/#comments. (Comment dated Feb 13, at 5:20 PM) I’m still interested in your answers.

          • Kevin Jones :

            John

            I did not miss Avram’s point but it is irrelevant to the argument that the SPEED Program is a sham. Yes if the law is amended at some unknown future date to preclude the sale of RECs it could produce additional renewables and benefit to the climate but since 2005 or so when it was enacted it has misused ratepayer money on an illusionary goal. There are no savings today since SPEED and standard offer projects are above market brown power. Finally when you sell a REC you not only don’t get the carbon benefit you also forgo the Sulfur dioxide, VOC, and air toxic benefits since you are really buying fossil generation along with some nuke. You have made this comment before and it makes no sense.

          • John Greenberg :

            Kevin Jones writes “when you sell a REC you not only don’t get the carbon benefit you also forgo the Sulfur dioxide, VOC, and air toxic benefits.” I profess to no expertise, but my understanding is that RECs pertain ONLY to greenhouse gases (GHGs). Kevin’s correct that this includes more than CO2, specifically, as I now understand it, it includes methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), & sulfur hexafluoride SF6) as well. http://www.epa.gov/oaintrnt/ghg/index.htm

            But I have not seen anything indicating that sulfur dioxide and other non-GHG related impacts are included, and therefore assume that they are not. Perhaps Kevin will enlighten us further. Similarly, reduction of water pollution (e.g. from displaced natural gas fracking) would not be sold with the RECs.

            If that’s correct, selling RECs makes the power generated by a project “brown” only in terms of the greenhouse gas impacts, NOT its other environmental impacts. That was my original point. Again, I’m willing to be corrected if that’s incorrect.

    • Carol Maroni :

      My goodness, Avrim Pratt, Really? You accuse me of regurgitating misstatements? Talk some about Sheffield Wind curtailment. Over the time Sheffield has been producing, how does the production output compare to the expected capacity? Will your electric co-op be purchasing a synchronous condensor to smooth out power fluctuations? ….which oh-by-the-way does nothing to solve the intermittent energy storage issue.
      Seriously Avrim, lets discuss the facts. Carol

  11. Stan Shapiro :

    Maronis’s piece has merit primarily because it challenges Sanders and McKibben who are constantly stating there will no debate or discussion given that we are in a climate crisis.This proto fascist mantra has been adopted by other high ranking politicians in the state.The arrogance that the only truth and way are their way is actually more of a danger to our society than the concerns they they raise.On the ground Vermonters who find themselves in the midst of these IWT projects have a clearer reality of what these projects mean for their lives than lets say those that live in the abstraction that any renewable is a good renewable.The halcyon view that the legistlature had in the 2004-2007 era needs refinement.Being critical is now more important than ever if we are to preserve our natural order as it was given to us by higher authority than Sanders, McKibben and the PTC that drives the money that IWT developers are after in the renewable gold rush.

    • Lance Hagen :

      Stan, well said ….. you hit the issue on the ‘sweet spot’

      It is this ‘crisis’ mode mentality that is being used to justify irrational decisions concerning energy. I have yet to hear from proponent of IWT any technical or logical reason why a 3 year moratorium would be detrimental.

      Every response we hear from them is there is no time to discuss, since we have a ‘crisis’.

      • John Greenberg :

        ” I have yet to hear from proponent of IWT any technical or logical reason why a 3 year moratorium would be detrimental.” Perhaps if you unblock your ears?

        • Lance Hagen :

          John,

          You are still doing your ‘evasive dance’. You have only made rebuttal statements on points from opponents of IWT and have never really answered the question.

          So a simple question …… Please provide a technical or logical answer as to why, as a proponent of IWT, a 3 year moratorium would be detrimental?

          • John Greenberg :

            ALance:

            Before answering your question directly, let me note that others in multiple VT Digger columns have provided reasons for not having a moratorium. My previous comment was not limited to myself.

            In addition, however, I have suggested everything else that follows here at least once elsewhere in VT Digger comments.

            ****
            I have heard no persuasive positive reasons to support a moratorium. The MOST convincing arguments really amount to a total rejection of wind development in Vermont, and I find these totally unavailing. Given that this appears to be the real motivation for the moratorium call, it would be a good deal more honest to call for an end to wind development in Vermont. Such a call, at least, would have the virtue of resting honestly and firmly on the hyperbolic arguments repeatedly presented.

            We are repeatedly warned about the “devastation” of mountains which are already home to ski areas, cell towers, housing, and other developments, and which, far from being “pristine” have for centuries been subjected to human development and intervention, mostly for differing forms of agricultural use (potash, sheep farming, dairy farming, forestry, etc.). A number of other arguments are offered as well, a few of which appear to have some scientific basis (disturbance of micro ecosystems and habitat), and others of which appear to be either completely subjective (aesthetics; tourism) or scientifically doubtful at best (health claims, property value claims). I have not followed the Act 248 cases which permitted the CPGs for Vermont’s existing wind developments, but having followed others in intense detail, I suspect that most, if not all, of these issues have been fully briefed and argued at the PSB.

            Be that as it may, energy production and use does not take place as wind moratorium proponents would have us believe, in an intellectual, political, economic, geographic or moral vacuum. It involves CHOICES between alternatives. Wind opponents’ habit of considering only the costs of wind turbines, while ignoring all of their benefits and simultaneously failing to compare them to any other alternative is simply not intellectually defensible.

            Some have offered conservation and efficiency as alternatives, and both are good ones. Indeed, by any measure, they’re the BEST ones. But even if we maximize both to the fullest extent possible, they fail to respond to the problem as it presents itself. As long as humans continue to live in Vermont, we will require SOME energy for heat, work, transportation, etc. And a thriving developed-world economy, the benefits of which most of us take for granted, depends on more than just minimal use.

            Rejecting development of wind (and other) intermittent renewable sources of power (solar) fails to address any of the issues which motivated major re-examinations of energy policy not only in Vermont, but literally all around the world over the past 4+ decades. Water pollution in the early 1970s was bad enough that the Cuyahoga River literally caught fire; today, fracking for natural gas has polluted water supplies in some places sufficiently that a match under a faucet of running household water produces a fire stream along with the water stream (For those who haven’t seen it, watch the documentary “Gasland.”) Smog and pollution from particulate matter have contaminated cities for centuries; air pollution in present-day Peking represents a serious health threat to its inhabitants. Fukushima and Chernobyl have made vividly real the effects of radioactive pollution, and entire mountains in Appalachia no longer exist because coal producers have simply removed them. The world economy has been repeatedly held hostage multiple times to a diminishing resource which, until recently at least, was mainly available in areas of the world subject to dictatorships and wars. Finally, just one of Hydro Quebec’s reservoirs – Caniapiscau – covers an area 17% of the size of the whole State of Vermont, dwarfing all present and potential future developments of wind power.

            If we say no to development of wind in Vermont, which of these problematic sources of energy will we choose? The sources I have just enumerated – oil, natural gas, nuclear, coal and hydro are the alternative sources of energy currently available to us in New England along with biomass and solar. An intellectually honest comparison would compare the costs AND benefits of wind turbines to those of some combination of these other sources before reaching any conclusion.

            And that’s precisely what Vermont policy makers have been doing for decades now. As I have pointed out repeatedly, Vermont’s laws and regulatory processes did not emerge like Athena from the head of Zeus. They have evolved gradually for more than 3 decades, have been subjected to thousands of hours of legislative testimony, thousands of pages of studies, some performed repeatedly over the years (Comprehensive Energy Plan, 5-Year Electricity Plan, etc.) under multiple administrations of both major political parties, and the Public Service Board has developed a massive body of law since the passage of Act 248. (OF COURSE, none of this has been perfect; nothing human is.)

            A moratorium would bring all of this to a screeching halt – based, as far as I can tell on the complete ignorance among those calling for it of any of the above. Alternatively, it’s possible that moratorium proponents are aware of all this and simply refuse to address it. Either way, the silence is deafening.

            That’s why I have repeatedly rejected the moratorium as an unwarranted caesura in energy policy, setting back the organic development of Vermont’s response to energy issues which has been developing for many years. But that’s not the only objection.

            In addition, a moratorium would do nothing to improve Vermont’s position vis-à-vis climate change, since it simply halts current development for a 3-year period (after which the current federal tax credits may no longer be in place). Even more specifically, a moratorium would do nothing to change the policy of selling RECs for wind projects, about which many wind opponents complain. There is no causal relationship between these a moratorium and REC policy.

            A change in REC policy could be accomplished in very short order if the legislature is so inclined. And it is worth noting that if the legislature WERE to make this change, Vermont’s wind projects would begin contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases as soon as the policy were implemented: I suspect that few, if any, REC contracts last more than a year or two. Conversely, if the legislature refuses to make the change now, there’s no reason to think they will do so during the 3 years of the moratorium. In sum, a moratorium MAY set back efforts to deal with climate change; there’s no possibility that it WILL do nothing to promote such efforts.

            Meanwhile, a wind moratorium would at least delay the contribution of Vermont’s wind projects to the reduction of other sources of pollution, other than greenhouse gas emissions. Power generated by windmills contributes virtually nothing to air pollution, water pollution, or radioactive pollution. Power from the alternative sources on the New England grid – natural gas, nuclear, oil and coal all DO contribute to these problems.

            In sum, I am completely un-persuaded by the one-sided, overblown rhetoric of wind opponents who fail to provide any reasonable intellectual perspective for their arguments – many of which are simply baseless – for opposing this technology altogether. Persuasion on this point would, at a minimum, involve fact-based rather than rhetoric-based discussion of risks and benefits of currently available alternative power sources, reasonable estimates of future power needs (encompassing maximum efficiency and conservation efforts), and a rational assessment of costs and availability of future energy developments. This is what utilities and regulatory authorities all around the world do on a day-in, day-out basis. But this is precisely what a moratorium is designed to halt.

            In short, a moratorium would be a non-solution to a non-problem, with positive harm caused to a rational planning process and to serious environmental problems which should not be forgotten as we rush to deal with climate change.

          • Lance Hagen :

            John, thank you for your response.

            As I see it, from your (lengthy) response that you see the items below as non-problems
            - No or insignificant reduction in CO2
            - Power costs are 3 to 4 times higher than existing power
            - Ridge lines are scared. Natural environment destroyed.
            - Potential health risks
            And that you fear an IWT moratorium would drive the focus to other methods of power generation that is not popular with you; such as nuclear, coal or natural gas.

          • Greg Bryant :

            What Mr. Greenburg is offering is a great “worldly” view on solving the global CO2 problem. What he is lacking is a “Vermont” view or a “Vermont” solution that deals with the resources and abilities of our state.

            Perhaps, being so worldly is not such a good thing when it comes to actually making a difference and caring about those communities around us. Maybe we should first work on ourselves before setting out to save the rest of the world. The most lasting solutions are always best from the ground up.

            Here in Vermont we are already the cleanest state in the nation for electrical power generation.

            Unfortunately, we are a poor wind resource. We are the 16th poorest wind resource in the nation.

            We use very little electricity compared to the rest of the country.

            So destroying all of our ridgelines for less 1/2 of one percent of the nations power might not be a good use of our resources. And perhaps, our biggest resource may be our pristine woodlands and forests as they consume billions of tons of CO2 for the rest of the nation. The very resource we are carving up and blasting with industrial wind plants.

            Logic would tell us, if Vermonters were really, really, really serious about global warming, they would work on what would really help … reducing oil and gas for homes and cars.

            This would come from insulating homes, decreasing mileage, better gas mileage from our cars, efficiency and conservation. We would really contribute to the cause.

            A moratorium is needed so we can shift this focus to something we can all agree on.

          • John Greenberg :

            So Lance, are YOU “still doing your ‘evasive dance’?” I gave you what you asked for, but I’m not seeing any rebuttal or reply.

          • John Greenberg :

            Greg Bryant writes: “Unfortunately, we are a poor wind resource. We are the 16th poorest wind resource in the nation.” He fails to note that we’re the one of the smallest states in the country, ranking 45th. That suggests that the wind resource is pretty good for a tiny state.

            Not to go all global on Mr. Bryant, but the National Academy of science points out that US wind resources are pretty extraordinary” “The analysis indicates that a network of land-based 2.5-megawatt (MW) turbines restricted to nonforested, ice-free, nonurban areas operating at as little as 20%of their rated capacity could supply >40 times current worldwide consumption of electricity, >5 times total global use of energy in all forms. Resources in the contiguous United States, specifically in the central plain states, could accommodate as much as 16 times total current demand for electricity in the United States.”

            http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/06/19/0904101106.full.pdf

          • Lance Hagen :

            John, where were at 8:33am when I posted a reply …… still in bed? I even thanked you

          • Lance Hagen :

            Correction:

            Jojn, where were you at 8:33am

          • John Greenberg :

            Lance:

            Our recent comments crossed in the mail, so to speak. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

            I don’t accept your characterization of my remarks. First, I didn’t address rates at all, so I won’t do so here. I raised quite a number of points which you have chosen to simply ignore.

            Third, I never said that the points you list are “non-problems” or that I “fear an IWT moratorium would drive the focus to other methods of power generation.”

            What I said is that the drawbacks of wind technology must be viewed in comparison to the alternatives and that all of the alternative sources of power in Vermont ALSO involve problems.

            Speaking only to those issues you single out, I asked that we consider whether, even IF there are health impacts associated with wind turbines (if you have studies, please provide links or otherwise cite them), they are likely to be fewer and less consequential health impacts than fossil fuel or nuclear power generation. Similarly, if we compare the life-cycle impacts of wind turbines on the natural environment to those of fossil fuels and nuclear power, we might well find that they are of far smaller magnitude, longevity, and reversibility (to coin a phrase) than those from the other sources.

            Indeed, the literature I’ve read suggests that those WOULD be the results of such a comparison. That doesn’t imply that the health or environmental impacts of wind are “non-problems,” as you suggest. It means that our other choices are MORE problematic. We live in an imperfect world.

            As to reduction of CO2, wind turbines DO produce less CO2 than fossil fuels or nuclear power, but the issue has been complicated in Vermont by the sale of RECs. Since I’ve already discussed that issue at length, I won’t repeat myself.

    • David Bell :

      “there will no debate or discussion given that we are in a climate crisis”

      I believe you mean there is no debate.

      If that is correct, I would say the scientific consensus on this issue has been reached, and there is no longer a debate among scientific organizations that actually study this issue.

      You claim that this statement makes me a “proto fascist” notwithstanding your argument that their is still a debate on the fundamentals is similar to the argument that their is a debate on whether cigarettes are harmful.

      Their is not 100% consensus on this issue (or almost any other in truth), yet the scientific consensus clearly is that cigarettes are harmful.

      Now, if you are saying we should have a debate on the best way to deal with this issue, I agree with that.

      • Lance Hagen :

        Mr. Bell

        There are many scientific organizations that support the fact that the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere will cause the planet to warm, but very few are supporting that this is a ‘crisis’. If you read their position statements, they use words like ‘may’ or ‘could’ to describe the impact of such warming.

        • David Bell :

          Mr. Hagen,

          If by “many” you mean pretty much every organization of national or international standing, then you are correct.

          As for your argument that the words “may” or “could” somehow detracts from their conclusions on the results of this warming, you might note that cigarette packs are only required to you the same language in their warning. Should we conclude that cigarettes are not actually dangerous because they do not use words like “will” or “guaranteed”?

          I would say no.

          • Carol Maroni :

            Mr Bell and Mr H

            Mr Bell and Mr. Hagen,
            It wasn’t for the lack of trying to use words like “will” and “guaranteed” it was because The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington announced it upheld a decision barring the federal government from requiring tobacco companies to put large graphic health warnings on cigarette packages to show that smoking can disfigure and even kill people. Federal judges have ruled the new warning labels provided by the U.S. food and Drug Administration that cigarette makers would have had to use by the fall of 2012 violate First Amendment free speech protections.

        • Steve Comeau :

          Lance,

          Perhaps you should check out the World Bank report published in November 2012 titled “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” (pdf), which “warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.”

          That sounds like a crisis, at least in some parts of the world, a big problem for most.

        • John Greenberg :

          Lance Hagen writes: “If you read their position statements, they use words like ‘may’ or ‘could’ to describe the impact of such warming.” So because SOME scientists are cautious about how much of a crisis this could be, you would prefer to wait and do nothing?

          Isn’t it more sensible to err on the side of caution than to find ourselves incapable of meeting an epic global crisis which could have been avoided by prompter action? And doesn’t the fact that most of the new data seems to suggest that the damage is actually occurring to a greater extent AND faster than originally anticipated put the virtues of restraint into question?

          Many of the actions we would take to address climate change — energy efficiency, conservation, and yes, even renewables development — also address other problems (both economic and environmental) and thus make good sense even in the unlikely event that climate change is NOT actually happening.

          As David Bell suggests, your posture makes little sense.

          • Lance Hagen :

            “And doesn’t the fact that most of the new data seems to suggest that the damage is actually occurring to a greater extent AND faster than originally anticipated put the virtues of restraint into question?”

            John, there is NO such data. There is only speculation that climate change is causing extreme weather events. Efforts to connect such events to climate change has shown NO correlation. You are spending too much time listening to ‘Calamity’ Bill McKibben

          • John Greenberg :

            Lance:

            You write: “John, there is NO such data. There is only speculation that climate change is causing extreme weather events. Efforts to connect such events to climate change has shown NO correlation.” Here are some of the data to which I referred:

            ** “”Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the report says. “Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer.”
            Written by 240 scientists, business leaders and other experts, the draft assessment arrives days after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its annual State of the Climate Report, which noted that 2012 was the hottest year on record. “ http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/11/nation/la-na-climate-assessment-20130112
            ** “Climate change is likely to be worse than many computer models have projected, according to a new analysis.
            The work, published yesterday in Science, finds evidence that Earth’s climate is more sensitive to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than some earlier studies had suggested.” http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-change-faster-than-predicted
            ** “Climate changes – temperature increases, increasing CO2 levels, and altered patterns of precipitation – are already affecting U.S. water resources, agriculture, land resources, and biodiversity (very likely). The literature reviewed for this assessment documents many examples of changes in these resources that are the direct result of variability and changes in the climate system, even after accounting for other factors. … Climate change will continue to have sig¬nificant effects on these resources over the next few decades and beyond (very likely). Warming is very likely to continue in the United States during the next 25 to 50 years, regardless of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, due to emissions that have already occurred. U.S. ecosystems and natural resources are already be¬ing affected by climate system changes and vari¬ability. It is very likely that the magnitude and frequency of ecosystem changes will continue to increase during this period, and it is possible that they will accelerate. As temperature rises, crops will increasingly experience temperatures above the optimum for their reproductive development, and animal production of meat or dairy products will be impacted by temperature extremes” http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap4-3/final-report/sap4-3-final-exec-summary.pdf

            ** “It is very likely that heat-related morbidity and mortality will increase over the coming decades.” … “There will likely be an increase in the spread of several food and water-borne pathogens among susceptible populations depending on the pathogens’ survival, persistence, habitat range, and transmission under changing climate and environmental conditions.” http://downloads.climatescience.gov/sap/sap4-6/sap4-6-final-report-ExecSummary.pdf

            These resulted from a 5-minute Google search. There are plenty more like them, but I see no reason to gild the lily.

          • Lance Hagen :

            John, I know you are not a scientist, but output from models is NOT data. And until these models are verified with physical measurements, model output is speculation. Educated speculation maybe, but still speculation and NOT data.

            Second point is that your referenced articles fail to demonstrate any connection between extreme weather events and climate change. They seem to focus on longer summers and shorter winters and the impacts of these climate patterns, but not causes for extreme events.. You know, like when ‘Calamity’ Bill suggested to the legislature that Irene was caused by climate change.

            Last point. The article in Scientific American, published in Nov. 2012, talks about “Earth’s climate is more sensitive to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than some earlier studies had suggested”.

            Now if you read an article in the NYT, by Andrew Revin, some hard-core climate scientist are now suggesting the climate sensitivity to CO2 levels is not as large as they had originally thought. (note references to Annan and comment from Schmidt)
            http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/a-closer-look-at-moderating-views-of-climate-sensitivity/

            So some think the sensitivity is higher then previously thought and some think it is lower. …… gee, I wonder who is right?

            And you wonder why some people are reluctant to spend large amounts of limited resources on IWT

          • John Greenberg :

            Lance Hagen writes: “John, I know you are not a scientist, but output from models is NOT data. And until these models are verified with physical measurements, model output is speculation.” There’s just one problem: the sources I referenced are not quoting “output from models.”

            I can go through each of these if I have to, but one should suffice. The fourth source cited above, which is found here — http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap4-3/final-report/sap4-3-final-exec-summary.pdf — describes itself this way: “This assessment is based on EXTENSIVE REVIEW OF THE RELEVANT SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE AND MEASUREMENTS AND DATA collected and published by U.S. government agencies. The team of authors includes experts in the fields of agriculture, biodiversity, and land and water resources – scientists and researchers from universities, national laboratories, non-government organizations, and government agencies. To generate this assessment of the effects of climate and climate change, the authors conducted an exhaustive review, analysis, and synthesis of the scientific literature, considering more than 1,000 separate publications.” (p. 1, emphasis added)

  12. Kathy Leonard :

    The Canadian Broadcasting Company’s DocZone program aired a documentary last week called “Wind Rush” (43 min) which looks at SOME of Industrial Wind Turbines’ pluses and minuses. You can critique the film, but it illustrates why people living near them are being forced to leave their homes. Our neighbors in Vermont living near IWTs are beginning to face that same sacrifice. The featured wind farms are located in farm fields in Ontario. (Higher altitudes are reported to worsen the effect).

    The CBC webpage and description can be found at:
    http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episode/wind-rush.html

    But you can’t view it outside Canada. You CAN watch it on YouTube:
    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UClx9fqXm-4zb5L-dmUW1LyA?feature=watch

  13. Rusty Brigham :

    I think a lot of people are missing the point here! Big wind projects will destroy our mountains and give us very little in return,so why risk it when we can use solar.Once you cut down the trees and level the mountain top its gone for ever,is that what people really want????

    • John Greenberg :

      Once cut, trees never grow again?

      • All those turbine pads and high-voltage transmission ROWs will someday be reclaimed by natural processes. For now, regular mowings and herbicide applications are effectively creating landscapes that are life-unsupportive and create urban runoff scenarios in once pristine wilderness.

  14. MJ Farmer :

    Why not build a new nuclear plant at the Vermont Yankee location? A new plant could use some of the spent fuel (recycled) and would provide VT with carbon free LOW COST power for the next 40 years. Plus, we already have 600 experiened nuclear workers at the site. The wind does not blow 24/7/365- be realistic. Plus President Obama supports nuclear power. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 4-1 to allow Atlanta-based Southern Co. to build and operate two new nuclear power reactors at its existing Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. The units will cost Southern and partners about $14 billion and enter service as soon as 2016 and 2017. Wake up VT.

    • John Greenberg :

      MJ Farmer is wrong on just about every point:

      1) Current US nuclear plant designs cannot “use some of the spent fuel (recycled).” Even if they could, the US abandoned its efforts to recycle nuclear fuel during the Carter administration, concerned that the program (which had already cost taxpayers billions) would significantly undermine efforts to end nuclear weapons proliferation. Does Farmer really have no reservations about highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel being transported around the globe?

      2) Nuclear power is not “carbon free.” The nuclear fuel cycle produces massive amounts of CO2. Building a new nuclear plant is a highly carbon-intensive process, since both concrete and steel are highly carbon intensive industries.
      3) Whatever one says about old nukes, new nuclear power is NOT “LOW COST.” Fisher neglects to point out that the new Vogtle reactors have received $8.3 billion in federal subsidies (=40+ Solyndras) and that they are already well behind schedule and above originally projected costs. For just a few recent articles, read http://www.ajc.com/news/business/vogtle-is-progressing-but-nuclear-revival-is-not/nWRNw/ and http://www.gpb.org/news/2012/12/18/plant-vogtle-construction-costs-rising. And lest anyone think the problem is limited to the US, here’s an article on the Finnish project, which keeps pushing its budget up and its completion date forwards: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/business/global/finnish-nuclear-plant-wont-open-until-2016.html?_r=2&amp;
      4) “Plus, we already have 600 experiened [sic] nuclear workers at the site.” Does Farmer expect them to twiddle their thumbs for 14 years while the new plant is being built?

      5) “The units will cost Southern and partners about $14 billion ….” No, most of the costs are being borne by DOE (see above) and by Georgia ratepayers, who are paying NOW for power they MAY receive in the future (if the plants are, in fact, finished and operated. And if not, well them’s the breaks.) The companies are at risk for a very small portion of that sum. Perhaps there’s a message there somewhere? (Hint: if you don’t know who the dumb money is, get out a mirror).

      6) I haven’t bothered to note a) the fact that after 50 years no one has any idea what to do with spent nuclear fuel, or b) the risks of catastrophic accidents about which the industry remains in denial, or c) the other state and federal subsidies which all nuclear plants have enjoyed for years.

      7) “The wind does not blow 24/7/365- be realistic.” It’s true: the wind doesn’t blow all the time. But guess what? A new German study (unfortunately the study itself is in German) by VDE Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies has just shown that “In five scenarios, the VDE finds that dispatchable power generators will mainly have to be flexible, but also that this requirement can be met in all of the scenarios. And up to a 40% share of renewables, the cost of power storage (or otherwise lost excess power production) remains moderate, only raising the cost of power by 10% in the worst case.” http://www.renewablesinternational.net/little-power-storage-or-coal-power-needed-for-40-green-power-supply/150/537/57383/ (See also: http://cleantechnica.com/2012/10/09/german-study-not-much-power-storage-or-coal-power-needed-for-40-renewable-power-supply/#6X5PoaLftJ9HCu7H.99)
      More importantly, the study suggests that Germany will not need to rely on coal or nuclear power as it moves from 25% renewable to 40% renewable power.

      Fisher is correct on one point, however: “President Obama supports nuclear power.”

    • Lance Hagen :

      Actually, when you do the math, looking at the capital $ spread over the lifetime of the site and amount of power generated, the $8.87B for the Vogtle nuclear power plant is 8 times lower in capital investment $/KWh than the capital investment in Lowell Mountain.

      • John Greenberg :

        Please show us exactly what math you’re describing.

  15. Andrew Berley :

    Amen! Bernie of late has become a disappointment, if not worse. Having been a Bernie admirer for years I cannot understand his stance(s)recently. I’m dumfounded by not only his stance on wind power and the ridgelines of the NEK, but also his position re Saturday delivery by the USPS. The future of the NEK lies in the folks spending big bucks to visit Jay and more recently Burke Mtn and they don’t want to see windmills on the ridgelines. As far as the PO is concerned, when was the last time you received any mail of value on a Saturday? Makes no sense on this side of the Greens!

    • John Greenberg :

      “when was the last time you received any mail of value on a Saturday?” Yesterday.

  16. Stanley Shapiro :

    Mr. Bell no one questions that we must act on global warming,we need to. However no should say as do Mckibben ,Sanders et al that we should approach the solving of this problem their way or you are on the wrong side of the argument.The blind faith they would proscribe is infected with opportunists (IWT developers) who could not care about anything but for the ridiculous financial benefit that the PTC has endowed for them.The problem in many ways is the congress that has created these financial instruments that are at the root cause as to why they would trash our ridge lines.McKibben and Sanders have become more like John Brown rather than like Abe Lincoln.

  17. Carol Maroni :

    Sue,
    You need to check into this further before you state that this is not true.

    Battery storage capability yet to be developed is needed before intermittent energy can be integrated into the transmission system in a way that allows for it to replace fossil fuels. Currently grid instability issues caused by the energy production at Sheffield and Lowell are resulting in significant restrictions in the energy allowed on the grid from those projects. This is not a new problem for industrial wind but has been well documented in other areas of the country like the Pacific Northwest, where turbines have been curtailed to the point of shutdown due to the grid instability issues.
    Carol

    • John Greenberg :

      Repeating your misstatement doesn’t make it any truer. See below for links to multiple articles specifically explaining why storage power is NOT needed.

      • Greg Bryant :

        (Editor’s note: John Greenberg owns and operates The Bear Bookshop in Marlboro and has worked on Vermont Yankee issues for over 25 years.)

        Sometimes like our Governor, in these efforts to kill Vt
        Yankee, neighbors will do anything to try to make this happen. And because of this anger at the rest of the state they do not care what happens,to our ridgelines, wild spaces, or their neighboring communities that are assaulted by their efforts.

        Unfortunately, wind won’t help you, and probably is another really good reason to keep Vt Yankee open.

        Energize Vermont and other groups have really good community based plans to increase renewables. Plans that do not jump at straws and foreign companies who are only going to create ill will and slow down the process.

        Now, because of the destruction to our ridgelines, many Vermonter’s have a bad taste in their mouths (for renewable energy). If renewable means destroying wild and natural environments,,,, many feel you can keep it.

      • Greg Bryant :

        Absolutely, correct. This is not a new problem for the wind industry, no matter how they try to “spin” it. Problems arise when power is put into the grid at varied times and unexpected places.

        The grid was set up to accept power from specific locations. “Dumping” power in at odd times and locations makes it really difficult to regulate and many times it is easier to curtail, or stop, wind generation, lowering
        the amount of power accepted to nearly nothing.

        So not only do they not generate as expected, they require us to build more transmission lines, more conventional power plants, and as is being reported, those conventional power plants are continuing to run because it is cheaper not to shut them off.

        Net production, less than 0. Net carbon savings 0.
        Cost to consumers, billions.

        • John Greenberg :

          It’s amazing how fast you guys can just make this stuff up.

          “Net production, less than 0.” The facts speak for themselves. Here’s DOE:

          “According to the 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report, the United States remained one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wind markets in 2011, with wind power representing a remarkable 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions in the United States last year and accounting for $14 billion in new investment. According the report, the percentage of wind equipment made in America also increased dramatically. Nearly seventy percent of the equipment installed at U.S. wind farms last year – including wind turbines and components like towers, blades, gears, and generators – is now from domestic manufacturers, doubling from 35 percent in 2005.”

          “The report finds that in 2011, roughly 6,800 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity was added to the U.S. grid, a 31 percent increase from 2010 installations. The United States’ wind power capacity reached 47,000 MW by the end of 2011 and has since grown to 50,000 MW, enough electricity to power 13 million homes annually or as many as in Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, Alabama, and Connecticut combined. The country’s cumulative installed wind energy capacity grew 16 percent from 2010, and has increased more than18-fold since 2000. The report also finds that six states now meet more than 10 percent of their total electricity needs with wind power.”

          http://www.doe.gov/articles/energy-report-us-wind-energy-production-and-manufacturing-surges-supporting-jobs-and

          The full report is here: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/2011_wind_technologies_market_report.pdf

  18. paul kenyon :

    Mr. Greenberg,

    To say that it’s a fact that intermittent and variable renewables displace fossil fuels is quite a statement. Please post your sources for this interesting and extraordinary claim. Please also tell us just how much fossil fuel is replaced by wind or PV renewables on a unit energy to unit energy basis.
    My understanding is that baseload providers like coal and nuclear can not be run to balance wind and PV renewables or, if they are, on a spinning reserve type basis where energy is bled from turbines so they can balance the rapid changes in the ragged energy provided by a wind turbine, for example, there is no reduction in fossil fuel use. If it’s gas, the preferred gas system is open cycle (OCGT) which is less efficient than closed cycle (CCGT) and one would be better off just using the more efficient CCGT system. What I read is, 1.) that it’s never been shown that intermittent and variable renewable sources displace CO2 on their modern grids and 2.) that studies (Bentec, Lang and others) show little to even negative CO2 emission avoidance on modern grids with variable and intermittent (PVs, wind turbines) generators.

    • John Greenberg :

      My sources are posted above in multiple comments: Komanoff, NREL, ISO-NE Wind Integration, EPRI, etc.

  19. Suzanne Griffiths :

    This situation reminds me of my 15 years with the Federal Government, watching the bigwigs stamp out fires. Any time there was a crisis somewhere in the world, they would take action by throwing bodies at the office involved. It didn’t matter that those bodies didn’t have the right skills to bring to the table and would end up getting in the way. Thus would begin the bloat and inefficiencies in yet another office.

    To me, that’s like throwing industrial wind into the energy mix without thought. It doesn’t matter that it’s not really saving anything. They’re TAKING ACTION, dammit! And that’s all that matters — a big show of “taking action”.

  20. Craig Kneeland :

    Wind energy replaces fossil fuel and saves importing electricity produced with fossil fuel. Today, on this cold Presidents Day, as I see the turbines spinning on Lowell Mountain, I am pleased to know that those turbines are supplying power for electrical loads at Jay Peak and other places in this area. This save us money and makes us more energy independent. It also addresses the critical problem of global warming.

    If there is a problem associated with siting wind turbines then lets address that problem promptly so that we won’t be stopping progress associated with the very worthwhile wind industry. Same is true with our finances.

    I am convinced that the wind industry is a very worthwhile investment that is off to a good start in Vermont and New York. Sure, change reveals other issues, but lets not loose the vision of progress associated with renewable energy.

  21. Craig Kneeland :

    BTW, Don’t dismiss Bernie and his staff for not being knowledgeable about renewable power. In a few years, unless we get stuck with a moratorium, more will see the wisdom of his position. Global Warming will not wait for us to ignore the issue for 2 or 3 years.

  22. Rob Pforzheimer :

    Industrial wind proponents need to get in touch with reality and stop perpetuating the unproven, non-existent benefits of wind power based on garbage in computer modeling and wishful thinking.
    In reality hundreds of thousands of giant, loud, strobe lit wind turbines built around the world over the last two decades have not lowered emissions or replaced or displaced any other generation. These heavily subsidized boondoggles have killed untold numbers of birds and bats, destroyed wildlife and human habitat and raised electric rates.
    How is sacrificing our mountains, quality of life and property values to multi national conglomerates like Gaz Metro/Enbridge, Iberdrola, and First Wind giving us “energy independence”? Where are all the “green jobs”? Where are the emissions savings? Where’s the proof?
    Thank you Carol Maroni.

  23. Ben Luce :

    I personally believe that intermittent renewable energy sources, in particular solar power, are an essential part of the response to climate change, and that the longer we delay developing viable renewables, despite the difficulties we may encounter with integrating them with current conventional generation, the more we ensure that this planet’s ecosystems will not survive the ravages of climate change. And I agree with the idea that we will basically need to force the development of storage and other integration measures by adding intermittent renewables now.

    That said, I do not believe at all that ridge line wind is a viable renewable energy source in this region: It is extremely destructive, expensive, and the potential for onshore wind in the Northeast and Eastern US is miniscule.
    The various DOE resource estimates available, and transmission considerations and other factors, clearly suggest that the total amount of wind generation that can likely be economically developed in the Northeast, and that would likely pass muster with environmental permitting agencies, is probably a few gigawatts of peak generation capacity at best (it now appears that even this may be a stretch). This would offset no more than a few percent of the fossil fuel demand of the Northeast. Its basically a sad joke.

    The only onshore renewable electricity source that has any serious chance of transforming the electricity supply of the Northeast US and the Eastern US as a whole is solar power. The wind resource maps really show this clearly. The Southeast US is in particular is essentially entirely devoid of viable wind resource: So forget shutting down mountaintop coal mining and nuclear power development in this region with wind: It can’t and won’t happen. If we get solar power going in a big way, then there is a real chance. But most of the money in the Northeast for renewable energy is going to wind, and the solar industry is languishing by comparison.

    Vermont could obtain much of its power from wind in principle, but this isn’t saying much because Vermont’s load is a tiny fraction of the rest of this region. Wind proponents claim that this will still help Vermont demonstrate leadership, but I believe that developing the ridges here with wind will only divert investment from solar, enrage and divide the public, damage the environment, and in the end utterly discredit renewable energy. This process has in fact already begun in earnest as town after town in the Northeastern US turns against wind development. And Vermont could easily transition to solar power steadily over the next decade and a half (assuming storage prospects improve as well).

    So in summary, I believe Vermont’s foray into wind development is simply folly, and one that our political leaders would be wise to wake up to as soon as possible, if pro-renewable energy candidates are to remain politically viable at all in the long run.

    • John Greenberg :

      Ben. You write: “The various DOE resource estimates available, and transmission considerations and other factors, clearly suggest that the total amount of wind generation that can likely be economically developed in the Northeast, and that would likely pass muster with environmental permitting agencies, is probably a few gigawatts of peak generation capacity at best (it now appears that even this may be a stretch). This would offset no more than a few percent of the fossil fuel demand of the Northeast.” Could you please provide links to document these conclusions?

      I note that the “high-penetration” scenario in GE’s “Final Report: New England Wind Integration Study” prepared for ISO-NE called for 12 GW of onshore capacity (plus another 9.7 GW offshore) accounting altogether for 24% of the “forecasted annual energy demand” (p.9) Do you believe these figures are unobtainable, and if so, can you explain why you do and GE doesn’t?

      Thanks in advance.

      • Avram,
        Denigration, belittling of others views is used by people who lack facts to support their arguments.

        The “closed loop” is presenting you with more facts regarding the MUCH LESS THAN PREDICTED capacity factors on Maine ridge lines. Instead of 0.32 or better it is less than 0.25.

        The “closed loop” is presenting you with more facts regarding the MUCH SHORTER IWT LIVES THAN PREDICTED. Instead of 25 years it is more like 17.5 years.

        Both factors will increase GMP’s 10 c/kWh for heavily-subsidized, variable, intermittent wind energy, i.e., junk energy, by 10 x 25/17.5 x 0.32/0.25 = 18.3 c/kWh, not counting the 3% losses of the synchronous-condenser system, plus inefficient operation of other gas turbines due to variable wind energy.

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

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

        • John Greenberg :

          Willem:

          Your repeated math about wind turbine lifespan – a subject about which I readily admit I have no knowledge – is based on the faulty assumption that the turbine constitutes all or even most of the cost of a wind project. But this isn’t true.

          Many aspects of these projects have indefinite life spans: permitting is only needed once, road building and tower placement, the same. The land for the project (and for any mitigation required by the permit) will only need to be purchased once. Even if the turbine needs to be replaced, there’s no probability that the tower will also need replacement at the same time (if ever). Ditto the transmission/distribution lines. There’s no need to further belabor the point. Many of the costs of a wind project, once spent, could support many generations of wind turbines on the project site.

          Before relating turbine life expectancy to project costs or cost per Kwh, you need to determine the relationship between the cost of the turbine and the project as a whole. The math your present is totally misleading, even assuming that your estimates for turbine life expectancy are correct. Expected turbine life is a matter for someone with greater expertise than I to address.

          • Ann,

            I wrote the below comment earlier, but it seems to have fallen by the wayside, as I cannot find it in this comment string. Please be so kind to post it.

            Thank you ,

            Willem

            John,

            Having done numerous life cycle cost analysis during my 40 years as an energy systems analyst and energy systems designer, I can assure you my numbers are much more correct than the GMP numbers of a levelized 10c/kWh.

            Regarding REPLACEMENT at the approx. 17.5 year mark, YOU are correct, as many items need not be replaced, as you say.

            Shorter useful service lives also means replacement rates at the 17.5-year mark and not at the 25-year mark. Another life cycle cost analysis would need to be made for the 17.5-year replacement cycles.

            As Maine’s IWTs have had ACTUAL CFs of 0.25 or less during the past 5 years (based on FERC data) vs a vendor/developer-promised CF of 0.32 or better, the cost of wind energy will be impacted roughly by a ration of 0.32/0.25. This will affect the new-cycle and the-replacement cycle, as I noted in my comment.

          • John,
            I have made a comment to the above, but it seems to have gotten lost.

  24. JAMES DYLAN RIVIS :

    Obama is even worse as he doesn’t take the time to study the issue. I suppose they are all too busy and have too many political debts to pay off that they bury their heads in the sand. It’s up to us to educate them somehow, I suppose, and then we’ll be faced ewith the inevitable question of ‘Then how do you reduce emissions and deal with that pesky ‘global warming’crisis?’.

    It’s been my contention for a long time that is we all were hooked to the concept that ‘you can only use as much electricity as you produce’ and bring the issue back to making our homes be equipped to produce electricity, then people would be forced to conserve.

    Personally I can’t listen to Bernie, partly due to the fact that I don’t think he listens and also because he is so strident.If you’ve ever tried to approach him he either is too busy or will loose off some prepared script spiel.

  25. Focusing on Bernie and his recent comments on ridge line turbines is like viewing him through a door key hole and he’s standing next to the door. The point, you really don’t see much.

    I would appreciate any of the above writers citing anything of significance that Bernie has accomplished in his many, many, many, many years in public service.

    Running around ranting and raving doesn’t count.

    • Kevin Jones :

      Peter – while no politician is perfect and I for one disagree with some of the Senators statements regarding large scale wind on our sensitive ridgelines he obviously has for a longtime won the support of the vast majority of Vermonters. He must be doing something right. As far as accomplishments the list is long and includes being recognized as one of America’s most successful Mayors, a leading critic of too big to fail financial institutions which contributed to an incredible financial collapse and significant economic pain to many Americans, and his leadership for federally qualified health centers in Vermont has provided decent and affordable care to many that did not have that option. Sometimes when there is great injustice ranting and raving does count. Given the fundamental flaws in our state renewable energy policy I think Montpelier could benefit by some more ranting and raving from those that want real climate action not illusionary programs like SPEED.

  26. Sue,
    “(i.e., the author’s erroneous insistence that wind and solar power do not displace electricity generated by fossil fuels)”

    The wind and solar energy DOES displace other energy on the grid, but it also causes instabilities.

    Expensive wind and solar energy is variable and therefore unsuited for the grid without expensive “treatment”.

    The ridge line IWT capacity factors and useful service lives are not anywhere near predicted values. See URLs.

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

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

    Example: GMP’s Lowell had to add a $10.5 million a synchronous-condenser system just for smoothing wind energy voltages BEFORE entering the grid. Such systems have about 3% losses.

    The variable wind energy also need to be smoothed by OTHER generators operating in inefficient, part-load-ramping mode, which adds inefficiencies; extra fuel consumption and extra CO2 emissions and extra wear and tear. The net effect: not nearly the promised reductions of fuel and CO2 emissions.

    Vermont needs a Renewable Portfolio Standard, RPS, like another hole in its head.

    Bernie is sincerely wrong about heavily-subsidized, expensive wind energy being good for Vermont. He has allied himself, with help of “campaign contributions”, with multi-millionaires and foreign companies that provide ridge line, noise-making, environment-destroying, property-value-lowering, health-damaging IWT systems.

    The last thing Vermont needs is to ruin more ridge lines. Four ridge lines is already enough.

    Vermont needs a strictly-enforced, zero-energy building code for all new buildings and upgrade existing ones, and shift RE subsidies to EE to implement it as quickly as possible. It would LOWER household and business energy bills.

    Vermont needs to encourage high mileage vehicles, i.e., getting an EPA Combined of 35 MPG or better.

  27. John,
    “I note that the “high-penetration” scenario in GE’s “Final Report: New England Wind Integration Study” prepared for ISO-NE called for 12 GW of onshore capacity (plus another 9.7 GW offshore) accounting altogether for 24% of the “forecasted annual energy demand” (p.9) Do you believe these figures are unobtainable, and if so, can you explain why you do and GE doesn’t?”

    Of course anything can be done. If we just throw enough money at it, even pigs can be made to fly.

    GE sells IWTs, did the study. It is like the fox buying the lock for the henhouse. Shame on the ISO-NE for asking GE to do the study.

    ISO-NE will defend the GE study, because admitting it is an irrational phantasy, based on 5 years of Maine IWT experience, would be too embarrassing.

    Sheffield and Lowell were recently connected to the NEK grid and were told by ISO-NE to curtail output, because the rural NEK grid cannot take big influxes of junk wind energy, as has happened all over the world.

    Studies were made in Vermont that showed Vermont has a wind resource of 5,000 MW

    Blittersdorf’s plan is to put IWTs on 200 miles of ridge lines; 200/3.5 = 57 Lowell Mountain type systems, 3,591 MW, at a cost of $9.43 billion, not counting multi-billion dollar transmission system upgrades and OCGT balancing costs, plus kissing goodbye Vermont’s ambiance and much of the tourist industry.

    Greed and insanity run amok.

    • Willem – what is the sourcing on the $9.43b figure?

      • Justin,

        57 x $165 million (GMP’s latest estimate of Lowell) = $9.41 billion

    • John Greenberg :

      Willem:

      First, let me note that the question I posed referred to statements made above by Ben Luce who suggested that there is no little to no wind resource in the Northeastern US. That’s a somewhat different assertion from your usual arguments, which concern economics, low historic capacity factors, etc. But perhaps you’re joining him in this new argument.

      Given that nothing else I’ve read supports Luce’s statement, I’m happy to ask you the same question I asked him: why is GE’s figure wrong? After all, even a turbine manufacturer – the only reason you offer for doubting their figure — COULD be right. Self-interest isn’t ALWAYS based on misrepresentation of the facts! (BTW, are you suggesting that ISO-NE discovered that GE makes wind turbines only AFTER asking GE to do this study?)

      You also state that “Studies were made in Vermont that showed Vermont has a wind resource of 5,000 MW.” VPIRG’s report cites a Vermont Environmental Research Associates (VERA) study which puts the figure at 6,000 MW. VPIRG comments “Since the VERA study was conducted in 2003, improvements in wind energy technology have made the 6,000 MW estimate conservative given Vermont’s wind resource.” (“Repowering Vermont, p. 22) Please provide the source for the figure you cite and explain why VPIRG is wrong.

      Finally, you assert that “Blittersdorf’s plan is to put IWTs on 200 miles of ridge lines….” I’m unaware of any such plan. Could you please provide a link or other more detailed reference to it?

      As I noted in comments elsewhere on VT Digger, the most aggressive plan that I’m aware of is VPIRG’s “strong renewable energy growth” scenario, which calls for development of 39 miles (5%) of Vermont’s ridgelines. Indeed, VPIRG calculates that this “strong growth” scenario would provide 28% of Vermont’s needs AFTER Vermonters make a major transition to electric vehicles (which would significantly elevate our electricity demand).

      I find it hard (impossible, really) to reconcile these 2 sets of figures.

      • John,

        Blittersdorf, et al, wrote the VPIRG “Repowering Vermont” Proposal to “kick off” RE in Vermont, as VPIRG does not have the personnel with the required skills to prepare such a proposal.

        The Coalition for Energy Solutions analyzed the Proposal and wrote a report which was widely distributed about 3 years ago. Many people agreed with the report, VPIRG did not.

        Blittersdorf said at least 200 miles of Vermont ridge lines are suitable for IWTs.

        As Lowell uses 3.5 miles of ridge line, 200/3.5 = 57 Lowell Mountains, if all ridge line miles are used for IWTs.

        Blittersdorf basically says 57 x 63 MW = 3,591 MW could maximally be built on Vermont’s ridge lines (the rest being unsuitable).

        All of the 5,000 MW or 6,000 MW estimated in prior studies is not viable, and, in my judgement, the 3,591 MW is also not viable, as Lowell will show in the near future, based on FERC energy production data.

        Vermont is making a huge mistake wasting scarce money and other resources on IWTs. It should be concentrating on the real emitters of CO2 which are buildings and vehicles.

        • John Greenberg :

          Willem:

          You’ve really outdone yourself.

          1) You begin by alleging that “Blittersdorf, et al, wrote the VPIRG “Repowering Vermont” Proposal … as VPIRG does not have the personnel with the required skills to prepare such a proposal.” The report itself says quite clearly “Written by James Moore.” (p.1) James worked for VPIRG at the time the report was issued (he’s moved on since then), and I can tell you from my personal contact with him at the time that he took great pride in his authorship. Blittersdorf is acknowledged on page 2 along with 15 other people and “the folks at VEIC,” “for their review and editorial support.”

          2) Next you refer to a report you wrote, without mentioning that fact: “The Coalition for Energy Solutions analyzed the Proposal and wrote a report which was widely distributed about 3 years ago.” You’re no doubt too modest to point out that you are a founding member of the Coalition for Energy Solutions.

          You confirmed your authorship yourself in an email to me: “A few days after the VPIRG report was published, I prepared the attached spreadsheets. I took the VPIRG report and summarized it in the attached spreadsheet “Summary”, and added capital costs estimates, using ACTUAL operating systems as a guide. Then I prepared the spreadsheet “Review”, using ACTUAL operating systems as a guide. This meant greater capacities and increased capital costs.” (Email to me dated 5/25/10 at 7:48 AM)

          We then corresponded about your report, which was chock full of misinformation, inaccurate quotations, etc. For just one example, your “report” states that VPIRG’s report “does not state sources, assumptions or calculations,” to which I responded by noting “Each of these statements is clearly wrong. You’ve just responded to an
          email in which I sent you the sources, and between VPIRG’s report and the CEA report,
          the assumptions ARE spelled out.”

          Here are the specifics, quoted from that previous email (sent to Meredith Angwin (because the Brattleboro Reformer has attributed the report to her) on May 21, 2010 at 12:12) for those who want to get down into the weeds of this. I wrote: “…the majority of the problems you attribute to the VPIRG report appear to stem from your failure to check the sources cited.

          In most of the instances, actually, this comes down to one report: namely, the CEA report done for and Vermont’s major utilities by Concentric Energy Advisors. It was issued in 2 parts starting in January 2008 and the first “phase” of it is included in an appendix to the DPS study on energy alternatives done by Scott Alberts of GDS as Chapter 12 of their Act 160 report.

          So, specifically,

          – On page 9, you write: “The Report does not show costs for building the proposed supplies, and does not show the cost per kWh (which is what we see on our electric bill) for the new supplies. Studies on these subjects are mentioned in a section called “Economic Analysis Methodology” but there are no links to these studies within the document. Page 15 of the Report asserts that their calculations show 7.3 or 7.8 cents per kWh for the renewable mix. The report does not describe these calculations. The Report does not calculate the cost per kilowatt-hour for any of the individual technologies, making it impossible to understand the basis for the cost of the entire mix.” But, in fact, the VPIRG report footnotes the DPS report (cf. footnote 30), which in turn uses the CEA report prepared for the utilities, and which DOES calculate the cost per kwh for each individual technology, under various capitalizing assumptions. Specifically, for wind, the information is on pp. 22-23 of the CEA report, for example.

          – On the same page, you state: ““In this Evaluation, we show all our assumptions about capacity factors, and justify them. The Report neither shows nor justifies its calculations.” But on page 33, the VPIRG report states: “Assumptions for installed cost per kW, capacity factor, and lifetime came from a combination of renewable resource developers in Vermont and two reports. The referenced reports were:
          Vermont Utilities Technical and Cost Issues of Generation Alternatives, Phase One of a Two-Phase Report, January 18, 2008, by Concentric Energy Advisors; and Report to Vermont DPS on Vermont Yankee License Renewal, Chapter 12 Alternatives to Vermont Yankee, by GDS Associates, Inc.”

          – On page 12, you write: “The Report does not say what capacity factor is used to get their results. Calculating backwards, the Report appears to use a capacity factor of 34.4%. This is unrealistic.” But on page 23, the CEA report states: “Capacity factor – Capacity factors for wind technologies varies considerably with the wind regime at the site. Based on Vermont sources, we have estimated a 33% capacity factor for Vermont-based wind. However, there is a limited supply of these favorable sites, and capacity factors can fluctuate by as much as 10% downward over the course of a given year, regardless of the site selected. Further, wind generation is difficult to forecast on an hour-to hour basis, and therefore cannot be relied upon as a significant capacity resource.”

          – On page 13, you write: “The Report does not discuss financing for the proposed wind farms.” But the CEA report does, in considerable detail. In fact, they consider various models of capitalization, including utility financing, a state run power authority, etc. The specifics of the cost estimates, in fact, are fairly dependent on the model chosen.

          I should add that the CEA report models only private and public utility and state ((power authority) financed projects, but the question of costs is further complicated, as you note, by the possibility that power will be purchased from 3rd parties, as is currently the case for VY power, for example.

          In a final case, the VPIRG report uses a different source. On page 23, you complain that the VPIRG report is silent on future market prices for power: “It is not clear how much higher the price would be in 2013 for that 32% of electricity which would be purchased. The Report does not acknowledge this situation except in one graph, and it is beyond the scope of this Evaluation to attempt to determine the price.” But, on page 32, the VPIRG report makes specific reference to the AESC study, and includes a year-by-year chart showing anticipated market prices, broken down by winter and summer peak and non-peak periods and states in the text: “Market power costs were based on electric energy and capacity avoided costs developed by Synapse Energy Economics…” I would point out that this report is used by many New England regulators, including VT DPS, and an earlier (2007) version of it was used by Bruce Wiggett in his pre-filed testimony for Entergy in Docket 7440.”

          3) Next you repeat the statement I inquired about, still with no attribution as to source: “Blittersdorf said at least 200 miles of Vermont ridge lines are suitable for IWTs.” Where did he say that? Not in the VPIRG report which you claim he wrote. I’ve already noted that the VPIRG report’s “strong … growth” scenario estimates 39 miles, not 200.

          The rest of your non-response is an expression of your opinions, to which you are certainly entitled.

          Still, I must point out that you have not actually answered any of my questions:
          1) “why is GE’s figure wrong?”
          2) what is the source for your 5,000 MW figure and why is VPIRG wrong?
          3) How do you reconcile your repeated reference – with no source cited – to 200 miles of VT ridgeline in a plan you still haven’t cited which you refer to as “Blittersdorf’s plan,” with the 39 mile figure on page 22 of the VPIRG report (which you now claim was written by Blittersdorf)?

          • John,

            The VPIRG Proposal lays out an analysis of an energy future for Vermont. Such analysis, based on my 40 years of experience, is best performed by engineers who understand energy systems and the numbers. James Moore is a well-spoken PR person, but certainly not an engineer, as is clear from the report.

            That IS the reason CES undertook ITS analysis, because such a sham proposal should not stand.

            You need to study the spreadsheets on the CES website, before making comments.

            After I reviewed the spreadsheets, I find I have been far too generous with the IWT CFs used for evaluating the VPIRG Proposal. Based on actual IWT experience in New England, the VPIRG IWT Proposal is an even greater sham.

            http://www.coalitionforenergysolutions.org/

            “Based on Vermont sources, we have estimated a 33% capacity factor for Vermont-based wind.”

            And these same optimistic sources were likely used by GMP and others to gain PSB approvals. PSB finds it easier to give approvals, if the IWT benefits look great and project promoters have no trouble using 25 year lives and 0.33 CFs to “enhance” the benefits.

            I knew better some years ago, and now, finally, many thousands of New Englanders know that:

            - 0.33 CFs on ridge lines are a phantasy, 0.25 CFs are more realistic (even less with $10.5 million synchronous-condensers), based on analysis of 5 years of ACTUAL production data on the FERC website regarding Maine ridge line IWT systems only about 150 miles from Vermont’s northern border.

            - 25 year lives are a phantasy, 17.5 year lives are more realistic, based on about 20 – 25 years of Danish and UK experience.

            The above is explained in the below articles with references.

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

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

            My other articles are on THE ENERGY COLLECTIVE.

          • John Greenberg :

            Willem:
            You STILL don’t address the 3 questions I asked you, or address any of the other specific, but obvious errors I mention above. Now you reply to the issue of authorship by saying “James Moore is a well-spoken PR person, but certainly not an engineer, as is clear from the report.” What difference could that possibly make if, as you said previously, Blittersdorf wrote the report?? Make up your mind.

  28. Greg Bryant :

    Did you ever notice that those who support (or stand to profit from) industrial wind plants never seem to make any sense?

    For example, Supporters from Washington Electric Coop, and staff. You cannot get a straight answer out of them if you tried.

    They will tell you that, “it is so complicated,,,the average person wouldn’t understand,,,”
    or perhaps they feel they are so incredibly bright, they feel it justifies, their complicated answers?

    Truth is, simply put, they are talking garbage. They are not making any sense because they don’t want to make sense… the facts are against them.

    Anytime someone attempts to confuse people it is for their own benefit,(usually financial benefit) like WEC. They received a lot of money.

    So has Bernie. Bernie has never really done anything. He is a populist, not an environmentalist.

    Glad someone finally saw through all the bunk.

    Great article, Carol.

    • John Greenberg :

      “Did you ever notice that those who support (or stand to profit from) industrial wind plants never seem to make any sense?

      For example, Supporters from Washington Electric Coop, and staff. You cannot get a straight answer out of them if you tried.”

      Normally, I’d let this pass, but I simply cannot.

      When I had questions (mainly, as I recall, on topics related to how utilities, and particularly co-ops, function from a business point of view) for WEC, I asked for and got a meeting with Avram Patt and Bill Powell. Both were well-informed, totally straightforward and generous in the time they allotted for answering questions from a lay person. Their answers were not particularly complicated and they certainly weren’t incomprehensible. I have nothing but admiration and appreciation for both men and no reason to expect that they were just favoring me — a non-member of whom I assume they had no prior knowledge. Quite to the contrary, I would expect anyone who approached them civilly would receive the same reception.

      I should note that during that same period, my friend and I has meetings with CVPS and GMP officials as well, who (while we sometimes disagreed vigorously) were always cordial, responsive, and exceedingly informative.

      Personal attacks have never been the Vermont way of conducting debates. I’d really hate to see us start now.

    • Greg Bryant :

      “I should note that during that same period, my friend and I “has” meetings with CVPS and GMP officials as well,,” ?

      It seems like this discussion has touched a raw nerve, and that is a good sign. The louder proponents are shouting, the closer legislators are getting to the truth behind the issue.

      Wind Developers and a few electric utilities have done a great job providing supporters with their versions of the truth when it comes to wind power. Most of this coming from outdated or biased studies that they conducted or sponsored.

      They quote these resources,,, a lot.

      Problem is the truth has no versions, it is never complicated, it always makes sense, and sometimes,,, the truth hurts.

      I understand the anger coming from supporters that perhaps this isn’t the silver bullet they had hoped it was… I was a wind supporter once too.

      It’s time for a moratorium and for getting on with renewables that are done the Vermont way. Simply, truthfully, and at the ground level.

      If it really was good for the state, it wouldn’t be such a controversial issue.

      Let’s focus on enewables that are good for our communities, our environment, and our future.

      Wind is not one of them.

      • Greg,

        Well said.

        The real CO2 emitters in Vermont are buildings and vehicles.

        On would think realistic politicians would know that basic fact and would do something about it, such as shifting RE subsidy funds to EE.

        Willem

  29. Rob Macgregor :

    I find it interesting that wind power opponents so blithely assume that proponents have sold their souls to the devil. Yet at the same time they take great offense when proponents respond in kind.

    It’s apparently fine for Ms. Maroni to accuse Sen. Sanders of “his total disregard for well-documented facts; his digging his heels in and using his influence to blindly push this agenda forward; and his inability to consider the benefits of taking a reasonable pause to allow time to learn the truth”. But she considers it offensive when someone points out the emptiness of some of her claims, and pleads for keeping ” the debate to the issues, discuss the facts and learn something from each other, or for framing ” the discussion in a clear objective and dispassionate manner that brings us to a quality of discussion where we might learn the facts.” Well, which is it? Does Sen. Sanders deserve the same level of respect that you expect to be treated with?

    It’s a fairly well understood phenomenon in social psychology that minority groups unsuccessfully involved in ongoing social or political controversies will eventually develop a sort of complex – that serves to bind their members together in an “us-versus-them” kind of mentality. And so it is with the opponents of wind power. After a decade of debate over the merits and impacts of utility scale wind, the polling numbers have barely changed. Vermonters approval of wind development ranges in the high 60% range, and disapproval ranges in the high teens, all give or take a few points probably below the 5% level of statistical significance.

    So when opponents label Sanders, Shumlin, various legislators, the state’s utilities and their officials, the major environmental groups (VPIRG, CLF, VNRC, Sierra Club, NWF) their supporters and other advocates such as Bill McKibben who favor wind development as corporate sell-outs or deluded victims of wind developer propaganda, what are we to assume they are thinking about the large majority of Vermonters who also support wind development?

    The fact of the matter is that the majority of Vermonters have been calling for development of renewables including utility scale wind for quite some time now. The legislature, various state agencies, the major environmental groups, the utilities, the developers and others have responded by enacting favorable policies and supporting the building of new projects.

    This is obviously not to opponents’ liking, but they have evidently found it easier to scapegoat various individuals and groups as the cause of their problems, rather than to accept and deal with the fact that they’ve more or less been “out-voted” at the state level.

    As to various facts of the situation, Ms Maroni claims that “Essentially we’re increasing our Vermont carbon footprint by destroying intact ecosystems building wind projects in Vermont so our neighboring states won’t have to.” One of the problems with this claim is that all of our neighboring states (and provinces) have already built windfarms as well, many on a larger scale than what we have built in Vermont to date…

    • Greg Bryant :

      One Correction, the numbers ARE dropping. If your statement is true, (supported by nearly 60 percent) Polls have dropped nearly 30 percent. The more Vermonters discover about wind, the less they like it.

      And as it destroys more and more communities, our landscape, and our environment, those numbers will only decrease more.

      This is what supporters like Bernie are so worried about.
      Why are they so focused on wind only?

      All the confusion surrounding this issue is purposeful. It is meant to deceive. Supporters do not want to know the truth. They do not want the general Vermont public to know it either.

      They only know that they feel like they are doing something. In their desperate and angry attempts to save us from the end of the world… they have become blind to anything that resembles logic. spewing out information provided by the wind industry, and in the processe doing absolutely nothing to help with global warming.

      If these people were serious about lowering CO2 emissions, they would be focused on the oil we use to heat our homes and the gas we use for our vehicles.

      Unfortunately, these supporters, like Bernie are now puppets and soldiers of the wind industry, virtually denying all other renewables as a waste of time.

      I was once a supporter of wind, so I feel your pain, but the emporer has no clothes. There is nothing you can do to cover this industry up.

      • Rob Macgregor :

        Mr. Bryant,

        Kindly provide some references for your claim that support for utility scale windfarms is down by 30%.

        I have followed the polling on this question fairly closely for over a decade. I have never seen a scientific survey that specifically identified support for utility scale wind in the high 90% range, which is where it would have to have started in order for it to have dropped to 69%, where it was for a WCAX poll conducted in May of 2012. There are some informal surveys with numbers in the 90% range, but I don’t know what question they asked, and if they referenced utility scale wind on mid-elevation ridgelines. I’m also well aware that the nature of the questions asked and polling techniques vary, and affect the outcome.

        I’ll reference a few surveys, some conducted scientifically, and some which were informal.

        ORC Macro polls were conducted in October of 2002, March of 2004 and again in January of 2006. The question posed had to do with the visual impact of turbines. 79% of Vermonters considered turbines on a ridgeline beautiful / acceptable in the 2002 version, 74% in the 2004 edition, and approval rose to 81% in 2006.

        16% of Vermonters surveyed considered turbines unacceptable / ugly in the 2002 survey, again in 2004, and that held steady at 16% in the 2006 version.

        WCAX commissioned a poll by Research 2000 of Rockville Maryland in May of 2006. The question posed had to do with wind turbines as a way to offset rising fossil fuel prices and electric rates. (I fully realize that market conditions have changed, and that this same question posed today might have different results.) Nevertheless, at the time support for wind was at 74%, opposition was at 11%.

        Another question posed in the same survey had to do with approval for wind farms if they were in the respondents’ viewshed. 69% percent were in favor, 18% opposed.

        The Doyle poll (not scientific) conducted at Vermont’s Town Meeting Day in 2006, showed that 65% of respondents favored the construction of commercial scale windfarms, while 19% were opposed. The approval number was up from the results of the 2005 poll, which was at 60%.

        The 2007 Doyle poll showed the approval numbers at 67% in favor, with 17% opposed on the same question.

        A Green Mountain Power survey in 2003 had 93% of Vermonters in favor of more wind energy production, but it’s unclear whether this question asked specifically about utility scale developments on ridgelines, or if it included much smaller residential turbines or mid-sized units for light industry or community scale.

        The Caledonian-Record conducted an informal survey in 2003, which had 66% percent in favor of wind – (again unclear just what scale turbines they were referring to.)

        The Vt Chamber of Commerce conducted an unscientific email survey in the fall of 2005, which showed that 74% of respondents supported “selective” ridgeline wind development.

        Last, the WCAX poll from May of 2012, conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute. 69% favored ridgeline wind development, and 17% opposed it.

        These are some of the polls I’ve seen. My apologies for the lack of internet links to follow for these result summaries, but I have these in paper form as I’ve collected them over the last decade. There may be some other polls of which I’m unaware. If you can provide some references i’ll be happy to reconsider my opinion, but in the meantime I’m sticking to my claim that most Vermonters have supported wind and that the numbers have NOT changed by great amounts in spite of a decade of controversy. And thus the VT energy policies and the legislation that has passed in the last decade, and the projects that have been built are the result of the renewable energy marketplace responding to the preferences of a relatively stable majority of Vermonters.

        Mr. Bryant,

        Kindly provide some references for your claim that support for utility scale windfarms is down by 30%. And please note that my statement was that Vermonters support wind development by percentages in the high 60-s%, not by “nearly 60%” which suggests numbers in the high 50% range.

        I have followed the polling on this question fairly closely for over a decade. I have never seen a scientific survey that specifically identified support for utility scale wind in the high 90% range, which is where it would have to have started in order for it to have dropped to 69%, where it was for a WCAX poll conducted in May of 2012. There are some informal surveys with numbers in the 90% range, but I don’t know what question they asked, and if they referenced utility scale wind on mid-elevation ridgelines. I’m also well aware that the nature of the questions asked and polling techniques vary, and affect the outcome.

        I’ll reference a few surveys, some conducted scientifically, and some which were informal.

        ORC Macro polls were conducted in October of 2002, March of 2004 and again in January of 2006. The question posed had to do with the visual impact of turbines. 79% of Vermonters considered turbines on a ridgeline beautiful / acceptable in the 2002 version, 74% in the 2004 edition, and approval rose to 81% in 2006.

        16% of Vermonters surveyed considered turbines unacceptable / ugly in the 2002 survey, again in 2004, and that held steady at 16% in the 2006 version.

        WCAX commissioned a poll by Research 2000 of Rockville Maryland in May of 2006. The question posed had to do with wind turbines as a way to offset rising fossil fuel prices and electric rates. (I fully realize that market conditions have changed, and that this same question posed today might have different results.) Nevertheless, at the time support for wind was at 74%, opposition was at 11%.

        Another question posed in the same survey had to do with approval for wind farms if they were in the respondents’ viewshed. 69% percent were in favor, 18% opposed.

        The Doyle poll (not scientific) conducted at Vermont’s Town Meeting Day in 2006, showed that 65% of respondents favored the construction of commercial scale windfarms, while 19% were opposed. The approval number was up from the results of the 2005 poll, which was at 60%.

        The 2007 Doyle poll showed the approval numbers at 67% in favor, with 17% opposed on the same question.

        A Green Mountain Power survey in 2003 had 93% of Vermonters in favor of more wind energy production, but it’s unclear whether this question asked specifically about utility scale developments on ridgelines, or if it included much smaller residential turbines or mid-sized units for light industry or community scale.

        The Caledonian-Record conducted an informal online survey in August 2003, which had 66% percent in favor of wind – (again unclear just what scale turbines they were referring to.)

        The Vt Chamber of Commerce conducted an unscientific email survey in the fall of 2005, which showed that 74% of respondents supported “selective” ridgeline wind development.

        Last, the WCAX poll from May of 2012, conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute. 69% favored ridgeline wind development, and 17% opposed it.

        These are some of the polls I’ve seen. My apologies for the lack of internet links to follow for these result summaries, but I have these in paper form as I’ve collected them over the last decade. There may be some other polls of which I’m unaware.

        If you can provide some references I’ll be happy to reconsider my opinion. In the meantime I’m sticking to my claim that most Vermonters support wind and that the numbers have NOT changed by great amounts in spite of a decade of controversy.

        Thus the VT energy policies and the legislation that has been passed in the last decade, and the projects that have been built are the result of utilities and developers in the renewable energy marketplace responding to the preferences of a relatively stable majority of Vermonters.

        • Rob,

          You have indeed a lot of data about RE and IWT polls in Vermont.

          However, the polls you cite are 2 -10 years old. At that time, as you know, Vermonters were wild about IWTs on ridge lines.

          This is no longer the case, as a result of GMP’s damn-the-torpedoes, Lowell Mountain destruction to have its way, to look “green”, etc., and the poor production results by Maine ridge line IWTs of variable, intermittent energy, i.e., junk energy, that is 3-5 times more costly than current grid NE prices, or Hydro-Quebec prices.

          These polls may be of historic value, but do not represent current Vermont sentiments, as is clear from the numerous comments on VTDigger.

          • Rob Macgregor :

            Mssrs. Post and Bryant

            I suggest you reread the results of the latest
            WCAX survey, which was conducted in May of 2012, as I noted, less than a year ago. Certainly a lot more recent than the 2 years that Mr Post mistakenly notes.

            This is well into the time frame of the operation of Sheffield, and the construction of Lowell, and the latest round of controversy. As I have now repeatedly pointed out, the numbers have barely moved.

            I’m afraid that you’d be mistaken in thinking that the comment sections here at VT Digger and in the Free Press and other media outlets have that wide an audience, or that much influence. I think they function mostly as echo chambers for wind opponents, and probably not a lot more.

            Conduct a scientific survey yourself, or with the financial help of VCE, or Energize Vermont. Word the survey questions in a properly neutral manner and sample the population according to proper survey protocols and you will most likely get a similar result, give or take a couple of points.

            The main point is that scapegoating one politician or another environmental advocate or an environmental group that supports wind (as Ms Maroni scapegoats Sanders here) is probably not a productive strategy for opponents, because those people and groups represent the opinion of sizable majority of Vermonters.

            Nor is your comment below about “those greedy, subsidy grabbing carpetbaggers with their quack projects that produce expensive junk energy will eventually be run out of town.” likely to be taken seriously when just a few paragraphs earlier you were stating ““Denigration, belittling of others views is used by people who lack facts to support their arguments.” (And before Ms Barton gets more upset, my reply to your comment was meant for you and not for Ms Barton).

            If Ms Maroni wants a discussion based on facts, she should stick to the facts and skip the hyperbole. Opponents want Bernie Sanders to engage in a civil discussion, try being civil to Bernie Sanders.

        • John Greenberg :

          Rob.

          Here’s one more survey for you: “When asked how strongly they would support or oppose a wind farm being built if it were visible from where they live, 85% of the total participants said they would strongly support or somewhat support it, and 10% said that they would strongly oppose or somewhat oppose it. The only significant regional difference was in St. Johnsbury, where 57% said they would strongly support or somewhat support it, and 35% said that they would strongly oppose or somewhat oppose it.” quoted from page 13 of “Veromnt’s Energy Future Regional Workshops: Final Report,” November 2007, Raab Associates — prepared for DPS).

          • Rob Macgregor :

            Thanks John.

            Appreciate your (and a few others) willingness to hang in there on a regular basis, in a thankless effort.

            I had been aware of this finding, back when I was more deeply involved, and participated in these workshops.

            Getting harder and harder to keep track of it all, though….

          • John Greenberg :

            Rob:

            At the risk of appearing to be a mutual admiration society, I appreciate YOUR willingness to keep showing up and responding intelligently.

            The effort is “thankless,” however, only if you define your goal as convincing those to whom you are responding. That probably IS hopeless, but these comments columns are widely read by many folks who will never write a word, but who read what others have written.

            My goal, really, is quite simple: namely, to keep the discussion fact-based, well-documented, and civil. Devoted wind opponents may not appreciate any of that, but I’m convinced that most Vermonter do, and they’re my intended audience.

  30. Carol, This is a helpful, clear article. The slight error “…wind and solar do not replace fossil fuel…” is actually a correct statement in the long run. Wind and solar must be backed up by quick-starting natural-gas-combustion-turbines elsewhere on the grid. These have a fuel-energy-to-electricity efficiency of about 29%. Were utilities not forced to buy intermittent wind and solar power, they could instead use slow-starting, 60% efficient combined-cycle-gas-turbines. So the requirement for using wind and solar, which actually work less than 30% of the time, force the use of less efficient natural-gas-combustion-turbines for 70% of the time, increasing natural gas consumption more than if no wind or solar power sources had been installed.

    • Carol Maroni :

      Mr, Hargraves,
      Thank you for your articulate comments regarding my statement that wind did not “replace” fossil fuels. On another note my High School principal in Townsend, MA was Robert Hargraves back in 1971 could that by chance be you?

  31. Mary Kay Barton :

    Even avid Global Warming believers, admit that “wind is not the future,” and is “a cul de sac that will prove uneconomic and a waste of resources in the battle against climate change.” See:

    “Wind is Not the Future”:
    http://thedailynewsonline.com/blogs/commentary_and_letters/article_53ac6bcf-d9e3-5cf5-83a8-172bc15cbaf1.html

    “Climate Change Misdirection”:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323485704578258172660564886.html

    Wind does NOT provide RELIABLE, DISPATCHABLE, BASELOAD power, and therefore, provides virtually NO Capacity Value – specified amounts of power on demand (aka: Effective, or Firm Capacity). See: http://www.masterresource.org/2010/09/wind-not-power-iii/

    This is why wind is inextricably tied with fossil fuel back-up, and is exactly what the recent report, “The Hidden Costs of Wind Power” discusses. See:

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2013/01/04/the-hidden-costs-of-wind-power/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2012/12/21/why-its-the-end-of-the-line-for-wind-power/

    You simply can NOT replace our dispatchable, baseload power sources that provide well over a 90% Capacity Value, with “Unreliables”, like wind, that have virtually NO Capacity Value at all.

    Sadly, more often than naught, what is going on in the U.S. in regards to the pursuit of the wind scam is no different than what is going on in Europe. See:

    “Italy makes ‘Mafia’ Arrests over Sicily Windfarms”:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21476916

    Another very worthy read on the wind scam is, “The Sierra Club: How support for industrial wind technology subverts its history, betrays its mission, and erodes commitment to the scientific method”:

    http://www.masterresource.org/2010/04/the-sierra-club-how-support-for-industrial-wind-technology-subverts-its-history-betrays-its-mission-and-erodes-commitment-to-the-scientific-method-part-i/

    • Mary,

      Excellent comments. Right on the mark. Keep it up.

  32. Avram Patt :

    A few general responses on behalf of WEC to comments :

    Kevin Jones says ratepayers are paying extra for the “sham” power, since it’s not counted as renewable. But the ratepayers are GETTING THE RECs revenue, which lowers their cost of power. In WEC’s case, the RECs revenue from our Coventry landfill gas plant and Sheffield lowers what we have to collect in rates a lot. So the SPEED statute was set up this way to lower and ease into the financial impact to ratepayers, and it’s done that.

    To Greg Bryant, same thing. WEC is a co-op, we don’t make money on this. The RECs revenue goes to the members. You can oppose industrial wind and you accuse WEC managers or board members personally of all kinds of evildoing, but making money on this is not one of them, sorry.

    • Kevin Jones :

      Avram, agreed and I have never said anything other than that the utilities credit the customer for the REC revenue. Additionally, the utilities selling the RECs is consistent with the SPEED program. My point is that SPEED resources, and certainly Standard Offer resources, are largely above market even after the RECs are sold and credited to the customer (while that may not be the case for Coventry, it very likely is for most other resources and is way above market on Standard Offer even with REC sales). Once RECs are sold then their is no environmental benefit to Vermonters. So when it comes to ridgeline wind it begs the question why are we doing this to our environment and dividing our communities when we are selling the RECs. The SPEED and Standard Offer programs incent the selling of RECs, increase rates (even after crediting REC revenue to customers) and do not provide net renewables to the region or climate benefit to Vermont. Therefore to me, and even to many of my out of state utility friends and colleagues, these programs are sham renewable policy.

      • John Greenberg :

        Kevin:

        You write: “Once RECs are sold then their is no environmental benefit to Vermonters.”

        You never responded to my comment above, but unless I’m mistaken your remark should read “there is no GREENHOUSE GAS benefit to Vermonters.” As I have pointed out repeatedly, there are environmental benefits other than greenhouse gases, and unless I’m mistaken, they are not convey to the buyers of RECs.

    • Avram,

      Vermont is destroying its ridge lines with foreign-built IWTs so WEC can offset its expensive, 10 c/kWh, wind energy cost by selling RECs at about 5.5 c/kWh to out of state utilities, etc., which, as you rightly say, lowers the costs of energy for WEC and for WEC members; a shabby business it is.

      The footprint of IWT systems requires the addition of a human exclusion zone at least 2 km from any 3 MW IWT for quality of life and health reasons.

      Numerous people near Vermont’s IWT-infested ridge lines have been complaining about the infrasound and low frequency noise.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/84293/wind-turbine-noise-and-air-pressure-pulses

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont

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

    • Avram,

      From a bookkeeping point of view, you are right, WEC does lower its energy purchasing costs by having IWT energy RECs to sell to out-of-state entities in RPS states.

      As you know, IWT energy on ridge lines in Vermont costs a minimum of 10c/kWh, the price at which WEC buys. You lower that cost by 5.5 c/kWh by selling RECs. From WEC’s point of view RECs are good, deserve to be defended, etc.

      CO2 emissions are being reduced due to wind energy.

      It is too bad Vermont is ruining ITS ridge lines and much of the tourist industry, to benefit WEC members, and to benefit out of state entities that do not want to destroy THEIR ridge lines.

      It is called shooting oneself in the foot.

      It would be soooooooo much better to use energy efficiency to QUIETLY reduce CO2 emissions in a LOW COST manner for the benefit of ALL Vermonters.

  33. Rob Macgregor :

    Sorry, but this comment confuses the issues of wind integration into the energy mix.
    First of all, “capacity value” is not the only energy “value” in play, wind has other desirable attributes even if it does not have a lot of capacity value.

    And as all forms of energy require back-up, until wind reaches much higher levels of “penetration” into the ISO-NE grid than it’s at at present, not much additional back-up is needed that’s not also already serving the other generators in the ISO-NE mix.

    And what use is made of wind now is not necessarily the way it will be integrated in the future.

    For instance, wind can drive pumped storage hydro as a way of balancing its intermittency. It can also be used for hydrogen production, which would then drive fuel cells, and it could also be used in a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) storage system.

    Admittedly, these systems are not realized or in place at the moment, but we will be in need of such systems in the very near future if we are to replace fossil fuels.

    • Rob Macgregor :

      Sorry , this comment was made in reply to Ms. Barton’s comment above…

    • Rob,

      IWTs on NEK ridge lines have poor capacity factors for several reasons, all of which were known to me and others, including people in the IWT oligarchy, DPS, PSB, et al.

      The lesser, real-world CFs are likely due to:
       
      - Winds entering 373-ft diameter rotors varying in speed AND direction under all conditions; less so in the Great Plains and offshore, more so, if arriving from irregular upstream or hilly terrain. 

      - Turbine performance curves being based on idealized conditions, i.e., uniform wind vectors perpendicularly entering rotors; those curves are poor predictors of ACTUAL CFs.

      - Wind testing towers using anemometers about 8 inch in diameter; an inadequate way to predict what a number of 373-ft diameter rotor on a 2,500-ft high ridge line might do, i.e., the wind-tower-test-predicted CFs of 0.32 or better are likely too optimistic.

      - Rotor-starting wind speeds being greater than IWT vendor brochure values, because of irregular winds entering the rotors; for the 3 MW Lowell Mountain IWTs rotor-starting speed with undisturbed winds is about 7.5 mph, greater with irregular winds.

      - IWT self-use energy consumption up to about:

      4% for various IWT electrical needs during non-production hours; 30% of the hours of the year in New England due to wind speeds being too low, too high, and due to outages. This energy is drawn from the grid and treated as an expense by the owner, unless it is a freebie.

      8% for various IWT electrical needs during production hours; power factor correction, heating, dehumidifying, lighting, machinery operation, controls, etc. 

      http://windfarmrealities.org/u-minn-and-vestas-reality-check/
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/53258/examples-wind-power-learn

      - CFs declining due to aging IWTs having increased maintenance outages, just as a car.

      - Reduced production for various reasons, such as: outages due to wind speeds being too slow or too high; flow of one turbine interfering with another turbine’s flow; curtailment due to the grid’s instability/capacity criteria being exceeded; power factor correction losses; curtailment due to abatement of excessive noise (nearby people need restful sleep for good health); curtailment due to abatement of excessive bat or bird kill.

      The net effect of all factors shows up as real-world CFs being about 0.25, instead of the vendor-predicted 0.32 or better, i.e., much less than estimated by IWT project developers to obtain financing and approvals. 

      Irregular air flows to the rotor cause significant levels of unusual noises, mostly at night, that disturb nearby people. Details in this article.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/84293/wind-turbine-noise-and-air-pressure-pulses  

      • Rob Macgregor :

        uh, except that Ms. Barton was writing about “Capacity Value”, which is something different than Capacity factor”
        … just for starters…

        • Rob,

          Here is a write up on capacity value of IWTs from this article.

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

          For summer peak capacity planning, ERCOT, the operator of the Texas grid, counts 8.7 percent of the Texas wind turbine rated capacity as dependable capacity at peak demand, in accordance with ERCOT’s stakeholder-adopted methodology. According to ERCOT, the capacity value is a statistical concept created for generator planning purposes. It is based on multiyear averages of wind energy generation at key peak demand periods.
          http://www.ercot.com/news/press_releases/show/381
           
          ERCOT’s capacity planning value of 8.7% does not mean the ENERGY of 8.7% of wind turbine rated capacity would be available at any specified “time-ahead” period. Because of the randomness of wind speeds, no one can accurately predict available wind energy at any future time. Hence, it’s not available “on-demand”, i.e., not dispatchable.

        • Mary Kay Barton :

          Mr. McGregor,

          Whether it’s Capacity Value (wind has virtually NONE),

          or Capacity Factors (the percentage of the Total Installed Capacity that a wind plant actually produces) —

          Wind fails miserably in both departments.

          From 2008 – 2010, NY’s wind factories produced an abysmal average Capacity Factor of 18%.

          See: NY Wind: So Much Ado For So Little: http://www.windaction.org/faqs/31912

          Wind is Not Power at All:
          http://www.masterresource.org/2010/09/wind-not-power-iii/

  34. Many people, including some in these responses, are misquoting the December, 2010 ISO wind integration study. They claim that study says we can integrate wind, up to 24% of supply, into the grid. The study was not done to show we can integrate wind. It was a “what-if” scenario addressing what would happen if all of the wind (including off shore) was built. That would end up being 24%. It states that 18 to 21 billion dollars of investment would be needed in transmission upgrades, and there (still) may not be enough spinning natural gas reserves available, due to market rules.

    The facts are, across the nation, wind is being curtained by the grid operators. There are many reasons behind this.

    Today I spoke with David Danielson, the DOE Assistant Secretary in charge of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and he said “Integrating wind is one of our biggest challenges.”

    The first step in solving a problem is admitting we have one.

    Dave Hallquist
    CEO, Vermont Electric Cooperative

    • David,

      Thanks for speaking up for a rational engineering approach.

      To willy-nilly put IWTs on NEK ridge lines, as Shumlin, PSB, DPS, et al, are doing, without first performing due diligence, is an expensive, political-agenda-driven travesty and a folly.

      GMP having to BELATEDLY add a $10.5 million synchronous-condenser, which at best is just a band-aid, is ample proof and Sheffield and Lowell having to curtail is further proof.

      All this should have been foreseen, would have been, if decision-making were in the hands of independently-acting engineers.

      The NEK does not have a robust grid. It is, in fact, just adequate to serve existing rural demands.

      Stenger adding his energy-guzzling waterparks under the EB-5, “free-money’ program will make grid stability issues worse.

      Grid operators have already admitted they have integration problems, but the grand-standing politicians, driven by their subsidy-chasing campaign contributers, are not listening.

  35. Aliena J. Gerhard :

    To denounce a moratorium for fear of what others may think not only requires that Senator Sanders cover his eyes and ears to the documented shortfalls and destruction caused by ridgeline industrial turbine development, but also it falls contrary to what we know of the history of this man, “the independent voice”.

    Surely, you of all people, Senator, must not be worried about “appearances” or feel so threatened by the request that we take time to examine and reflect before blindly plowing forward at the expense of so much. Surely, you should be the first to step forward and ask vital questions, to listen to the people rather than the corporations, to demand accountability, to seek out a more logical solution to our global warming crisis.
    Your recent words are not worthy of your record and do not ring true to the Senator of whom we have been so proud.

    • Aliena,

      True colors are revealed under pressure.

      Politicians taking “campaign contributions” and becoming “constituent service providers”, or worse, shilling for imfamous endeavors, such as IWTs on pristine ridge lines, will eventually get what they deserve which is kicked out of office without a fat government pension.

  36. Mary Kay Barton :

    Mr. Macgregor – You say, “wind has other desirable attributes even if it does not have a lot of capacity value.” Frankly sir, that is complete hogwash.

    And since we have to integrate wind into the grid if we wish to use it, integration has everything to do with this conversation. It is also obvious that you did NOT read the links included in my first post.

    “Desirable attributes”??? Like what??? Let’s see:

    1.) The massive footprints of industrial wind factories cause massive habitat fragmentation;

    2.) the massive 450+ foot-tall industrial “Bird Cuisinarts” kill hundreds of thousands of birds and bats every year (See: http://www.SaveTheEaglesInternational.org);

    3.) with well over 140,000 industrial wind turbines installed world-wide, CO2 emissions have NOT been significantly reduced – ANYWHERE!

    4.) The only thing that has ever been reliably generated by industrial wind is complete and utter civil discord. See the documentary, WindFall, which very accurately depicts exactly what goes on when Big Wind salesmen come to Town:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87TGW9eLAtU&feature=player_embedded

    5.) The negative health effects caused by “infrasound”, known as Wind Turbine Syndrome, is negatively impacting many rural residents who end up stuck living way too close to industrial wind factories (600′ – 1200′ from the foundations of their homes on all sides) because ignorant, self-motivated people and politicians don’t give a hoot about anything other than themselves, or the truth that WIND DOESN’T WORK!

    6.) Wind has exorbitant costs for insignificant benefits!

    7.) Because wind is a scam enabled by LOTS of $$$$$ – Big Money always attracts Big Corruption – i.e. (same story, different country): “‘Mafia’ Arrests over Windfarms”:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21476916

    8.) Did I mention – WIND DOESN’T WORK.

    In summary, Communities have been ripped apart, the very environment you claim you wish to save is being destroyed, peoples’ health and property values are being seriously negatively impacted, $BILLIONS of tax- and rate-payers’ dollars are being transferred from our pockets, into the pockets of mega, multi-national corporations – all for the biggest ‘SWINDLE’ to ever come down the pike –

    “The Wind Farm Scam”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Farm-Scam-Independent-Minds/dp/1905299834/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329410850&sr=8-1

    As we are told so MANY times in the Word of God, “The love of money is the root of so many kinds of evil.” The wind mess is proof of how true that is.

    • Mary,

      I love your well-placed wrath. Keep it up, and those greedy, subsidy grabbing carpetbaggers with their quack projects that produce expensive junk energy will eventually be run out of town.

      • Rob Macgregor :

        To quote Mr Post, who was replying to Avram Patt,above:

        “Denigration, belittling of others views is used by people who lack facts to support their arguments.”

        And the balance of Ms Barton’s post is hardly worth dignifying with a response….

        • Mary Kay Barton :

          Mr. McGregor,

          I did not denigrate you, and presented plenty of facts – that you appear to be trying to justify discounting. If the fact that there is plenty of proof of corruption surrounding the wind mess bothers you, it must be that you feel guilty about something.

          Perhaps, Mr. McGregor, if it was your Town, your home, your friends & neighbors whose lives, homes, and Towns were being devastated by industrial wind factories being irresponsibly, and ludicrously strewn throughout entire Townships where you live, you wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the facts.

          My family and friends have been living this nightmare for the past 10 years – that’s TEN YEARS! There are over 250 industrial wind turbines strewn across our once-beautiful hillsides here in Wyoming County of Western NY, with another 59 scheduled to go up soon.

          The ads the wind industry shows on TV of giant turbines out in the middle of nowhere out on The Great Plains is NOT what is going on in MANY states! They are siting these things throughout rural-residential areas, and completely surrounding MANY peoples’ homes.

          Peoples’ homes have been rendered virtually worthless – all for what is a complete WASTE of our tax- and rate-payer dollars.

          Let’s be real, Mr. McGregor – Would YOU buy and move your family into one of these homes?? Obviously NOT! How would you feel Mr. McGregor, if it was YOUR most expensive life investment – YOUR HOME, that was rendered virtually worthless, and you couldn’t afford to just dump it and run – everything you worked for over the years, just gone???

          What is going on here is nothing short of backdoor EMINENT DOMAIN, with these folks Constitutional private property rights being STOLEN by Big Wind & corrupt, uncaring politicians.

          Perhaps people would be happy to sacrifice their homes & quality of life on the altar of “green” energy if it actually worked, Mr. McGregor — but it doesn’t!

  37. Craig Kneeland :

    My reading of Dave Hallquist’s comment about integrating 24 percent renewables does not support a moratorium on what small percentage Vermont is contributing toward that 24 percent. As for the shutting down of generators; It happens all the time with gas generators. We also turn off water driven turbines and other generators when the grid doesn’t nee the power. Sure, the integration of any new power source presents a challenge. That doesn’t mean we should sit on our hands while ISO-NE is working on the problem of coordinating generators. Our own GMP can simply coordinate water turbine flow and perhaps head storage to reduce the impact of wind. Wind and hydro are good complementary, renewable resources that can be optimized with our smart grid.

    • Craig,

      David Hallquist is a good engineer and he deservedly is a CEO of a Vermont Utility. He has warned committees of the Vermont legislature regarding the likely adverse effects of IWT policies. Let us hope his message eventually makes itself heard in Shumlin’s mind.

      From your comments, I conclude, you mean well, but lack knowledge about energy systems and how they are operated, as do many others commenting on this article.

      The Vermont IWT moratorium is necessary, because for Vermont to proceed on the IWT route would:

      - end up as a big negative for the Vermont economy, because of much greater energy costs.

      - make Vermont sooooo much less attractive to tourists.

      - create minimal RE jobs at high costs/job.

      - destroy a much larger number of jobs in other sectors, because of high costs, and, in the tourist industry, because of reduced ambiance.

  38. Craig Kneeland :

    Willem,
    The Vermont Electric Coop under Dave Hallquist’s leadership has supported the Lowell Wind Project. More recently, the coop has asked for relief from aggressive renewable mandates, which is another issue.

    As for the tourists: One of the fastest growinng resorts in the skiing industry is just a few miles from the Lowell Turbines. The owner of that resort said that his guests support renewable wind. He should know.

    I have been an Electrical Engineer for over a half century and I admit I have a lot to learn. Your “well meaning” comments have not helped in that regard.

    • Craig,

      Dave’s early support of Lowell was unfortunate, but, as he has said, he has learned a lot, as have other Vermonters, including some legislators, except diehards, such as subsidy and campaign contribution chasing Bernie, Shulman, IWT project developers, etc., and he is now very skeptical about going forward with more IWT systems in the NEK in the future, based on the curtailed operations of Sheffield and Lowell and the Lowell $10.5 million synchronous-condenser to regulate wind energy voltages.

      Most alert people are now aware IWT lives are not about 25 years, but about 17.5 years, based on UK and Denmark experience, and most alert people now are aware CFs on Maine ridge lines are not 0.32 or better, as claimed by IWT project developers (without proof, and despite proof to the contrary), to get approvals, but 0.25 or less. Both these facts will adversely affect the already-high levelized cost of wind energy.

      In the case of GMP’s Lowell, its heavily-subsidized energy of 10c/kWh will be come closer to 10 x 0.32/0.25 x 25/17.5 = 18.3 c/kWh, which likely would not have gained approval from the PSB.

      I do not consider EB-5-financed, energy-guzzling waterparks “tourism”. Stenger’s build-outs will further burden the NEK grid.

      Is your experience in utility power systems analysis and design?

    • Bruce Post :

      Actually, according to NREL/Wind Powering America (http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_resource_maps.asp?stateab=vt), it looks like one of the premier wind sites in Vermont is Jay Peak. The summit has already been compromised, blown up in 1966 to build the tram house. Therefore, Stenger should welcome a large-scale industrial wind facility right in his backyard. Then, his guests might have even more reasons to stay at Jay.

      • Bruce,

        Also see my above comment to Rob: February 19, 2013 at 11:26 pm

        IWTs in ski areas throwing large ice chunks on skiers? Insurance rates? Good PR for IWTs?

        At first blush, various starry-eyed promoters of IWTs on ridge lines might think Jay Peak is a good site for IWTs, but the winds are irregular because of the terrain, meaning winds of different velocities AND directions are entering the 373-ft diameter rotor, meaning its energy output is reduced; somewhat like running a car on bad gas.

        Add to that the reduced IWT life from a vendor-assumed life of 25 years vs. a real-world value of about 17.5 years, plus the reduced CF from a vendor-assumed CF of 0.32 or better vs. a real-world value of 0.25 or less, then IWT energy becomes very expensive.

        And to smooth voltages, add some $10.5 million synchronous-condenser systems, which have 3% losses, the CF of 0.25 becomes 0.2425.

        Households and businesses of Vermont need expensive IWT junk energy like another hole in the head.

  39. Stan Shapiro :

    ‘his guests support renewable wind’ has as much validity toward the arguments about the appropriatness of wind on Vermont ridge lines as saying they like dessert.People who are effected by these projects quickly learn that their lives will never be the same.Unfortunately public support for the concept is based on a complete lack of education and a high level of abstraction of the real issues involved.

  40. To Rob Macgregor: As a Scot, you should take a keen interest in what is being done to the original Rob Roy MacGregor’s beautiful wild Scotland in the interest of “green power.” The following government-funded study is one more voice in the chorus of voices declaring that big wind is a loser. Both forests and peat bogs are carbon sinks; substitute the former for the latter, and the following study may also be applied to Vermont:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9889882/Wind-farms-will-create-more-carbon-dioxide-say-scientists.html

    Wind farms will create more carbon dioxide, say scientists

    Thousands of Britain’s wind turbines will create more greenhouse gases than they save, according to potentially devastating scientific research to be published later this year.

    Ellin Greer [i.e., MacGregor] Anderson (my real name)
    Member, Clan Gregor Society
    Brownington, Vermont
    http://www.125.com/

Comments

*

Comment policy Privacy policy
Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Maroni: A different side of Bernie"