Business blowback over proposed wind and energy bill

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

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

Vermont businesses and renewable energy advocates are coming out in strong opposition to a Senate bill that would change how large wind and other energy generation projects are permitted in the Green Mountain State.

More than 150 businesses — among them Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia Burlington, Pomerleau Real Estate and Green Mountain Power — sent a letter to Vermont senators last week in opposition to S.30.

The letter, which was spearheaded by the trade organization Renewable Energy Vermont, cautioned that the bill “hangs a sign on the door of Vermont saying, ‘no renewable energy jobs or projects welcome here.’”

The linchpin of the draft bill requires applicants of energy generation projects greater than 500 kilowatts (kW) to conform to Act 250 criteria. Act 250 is the state’s governing land-use law and relies heavily on town plans, giving municipalities a greater say over the permitting process.

The bill is set to hit the Senate floor on Wednesday, and opposition is mounting.

Influential opposition

Jeffery Wolfe founded the large-scale solar company groSolar and sits on the national advisory board for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Jeffrey Wolfe

Jeffery Wolfe

Last week, Wolfe told President Pro Tem John Campbell, D-Windsor, in an email that if he continued to support S.30, he could expect some serious political backlash.

“John, I’ve supported you for a lot of races,” Wolfe wrote. “But if you support this bill, not only does that support end, but I will help recruit and support opposition to you in the next election, and will put my money where my mouth is.

“I’m not a single issue voter, but this one bill, because it sets back action on climate change, affects almost every issue I care about. Middle class prosperity, human health, environmental health, recreation, are all negatively affected by this bill.”

Wolfe, who lives in Strafford and is involved in the Democratic Party, told VTDigger that he hasn’t contributed significant dollars to Campbell’s campaigns, but he has created numerous jobs in Campbell’s Senate district.

“John has never once voiced a complaint with solar or wind energy to me,” he said. “It sort of appears he’s willing to take when it’s good but not stand up when it’s under fire.”

Campbell did not immediately return a request for comment. The Senate President Pro Tem is an anti-wind proponent, though it’s likely he will not be able to vote on S.30 when the bill comes to the floor this week as Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is away, and Campbell will have to preside over the Senate.

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR), which represents prominent Vermont businesses like Green Mountain Coffee and NRG Systems, also sent a letter to senators opposing S.30.

“It is inconsistent with the will of Vermonters, the business community and the state’s renewable energy goals,” VBSR wrote. Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, who co-sponsored the original bill and chairs the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, disagrees with this assertion.

“This is not a problem for business development at all,” he said. “This is putting Vermonters in control of their own fate and putting a proper process in place to determine where the best places are for projects to go.”

The bill and the “burden”

Hartwell and Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, introduced S.30 at the outset of the session.

It was, in part, a response to vocal opposition to the development of utility-scale wind projects on Vermont ridgelines and, in part, a response to outcry over hurdles to public participation in the permitting process for energy generation projects.

Gov. Peter Shumlin acknowledged the latter of these two issues and created a siting commission to assess this process in the fall of last year.

“This process has not included people and assessed impacts well,” Hartwell said.

The initial bill that Hartwell and Benning introduced included a three-year moratorium on the development of wind turbine projects with a production capacity greater than 500 kW. But the version of the bill that passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee at the end of Feburary did not include that controversial provision.

The draft that is headed to the Senate floor this week would require the Public Service Board to mandate conformance to Act 250 criteria when approving the siting of energy projects larger than 500 kW.

The legislation also prohibits the construction of any commercial or electric generation projects on state forests, and it sets aside $75,000 for the Public Service Department to oversee various assessments on potential economic, health and environmental matters associated with large-scale wind generation plants.

Wolfe said his primary qualm with the bill is the added burden it places on renewable energy generation applicants.

“Fundamentally, the bill speaks to increase the regulatory environment on renewables thereby slowing their development and making their development more expensive,” he said. “Any bill that does that in Vermont is a bad bill and does not move us towards our energy goals or a better economy in Vermont.”

The state’s comprehensive energy plan, which was adopted in 2011, set a goal of shifting 90 percent of the state’s energy portfolio to renewables by 2050.

Dan Barlow, who lobbies for VBSR, articulated similar sentiments to Wolfe, saying the state should continue on its current path.

“It’s good to have aggressive goals,” he said. “Placing additional regulatory burdens on renewable energy generators in Vermont will slow this progress.”

The amendments on the table

At least three “strike-all” amendments that would rewrite S.30 will be on the Senate’s menu on Wednesday.

The first of the strike-all amendments will come from Hartwell’s committee. He says the new version of the bill is meant to streamline its language.

The current iteration of that amendment, which is subject to change, does not mandate Act 250 conformance. It would, however, require energy generation projects to adhere to town plans.

Chittenden County Democratic Sens. Tim Ashe and Ginny Lyons are each proposing amendments that would take the bill in different directions, and neither proposes additional regulations that would involve towns more. Both drafts call on the Legislature to wait until further analysis on the issue has been conducted.

Lyons’ amendment would require the Joint Energy Committee to prepare a report by Dec. 1 that recommends energy siting policies based on the findings of the governor’s siting commission, the state’s comprehensive energy plan, VELCO’s transmission plan, Act 250 rules, as well as other policies.

Ashe’s amendment calls for the creation of a Joint Energy and Public Service Oversight Committee, comprised of five representatives and five senators, to replace the Joint Energy Committee. This committee would review energy and utility matters and would also be charged with submitting a report to legislative committees about the siting commission’s findings, the state’s renewable energy sector and ways to improve public participation in the siting review process.

Hartwell said that he is open to these proposals, but he feels that there needs to be a policy that gives localities greater power over the siting process until a permanent solution to these procedures is agreed on by the Legislature.

Andrew Stein

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80 Comments on "Business blowback over proposed wind and energy bill"

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Avram Patt
3 years 3 months ago
S.30 is a very sad chapter in the annals of the Vermont Senate. The “findings” in the bill as originally introduced assert the “reasons” why the sponsors felt the bill needed to be introduced, but they are so full of misunderstanding and misstatement that they are an embarassment. I appreciate the efforts to amend the bill, but it would make the most sense to wait for the recommendations of the Siting Commission. I don’t know whether I will agree with all of them or not, but I do think they have put a lot more thought into this, and have… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

Avram,

The Siting Commission is a hand-picked by Shumlin, et al; the foxes determining the combination of the lock to the hen house.

Not democratic; maybe OK in Venezuela, but not Vermont.

Donna Watts
3 years 3 months ago

We elected Shumlin by a pretty large percentage. As Governor, he gets to make appointments. Seems to me that is what democracy provides – to the winner goes the opportunity to influence things such as this. Those of us who do not how he is leading can mount whatever campaign we want to counteract that.

3 years 3 months ago

Donna,
People make mistakes.

He was voted in by the legislature for his first term (did not have 50%), and for his second term he was elected by a smaller margin than that of many other democrats.

Stan Shapiro
3 years 3 months ago

If opponents of the bill are so convinced the majority of Vermonters support their efforts they should have nothing to fear if each town has a say in it’s own fate.Stebbins and her group are against the most integral of Vermont political traditions , the integrity and voice of local determination.The real tragedy is that IWT projects in Vermont will do nothing to protect against global warming.They are an inauthentic response in using a crisis to extract billions of dollars that will only benefit very few.

3 years 3 months ago

Well said Stan!

Carl Werth
3 years 3 months ago

So, ACT 250 is good, beneficial and relevant for all development EXCEPT power generation?

Coleman Dunnar
3 years 3 months ago
John, I’ve supported you for a lot of races,” Wolfe wrote. “But if you support this bill, not only does that support end, but I will help recruit and support opposition to you in the next election, and will put my money where my mouth is. Wow – that pretty much sums up what’s driving the whole renewables program in Vermont. Talk about pay for play. Off course the renewables developers and their political hacks don’t want a pause in this grab for cash while the subsidies and tax credits are still available. If there is a pause maybe JQ… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

Coleman,

Well said.

Craig Kneeland
3 years 3 months ago

Act 250 was never designed to handle regional issues such as Electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution. The Senators seeking to wrap Act-250 around power generation makes no more sense than applying the act to highways and railways. Any legislation interferring with the replacement of fossil fuels is misguided. Our Senate does not need to respond to the vocal minority that offers no reasonable alternative to the global warming crisis.

Bruce Post
3 years 3 months ago
A few comments: — Regarding Act 250 and regional issues, I think you identified one of Act 250’s weaknesses. In the scholarly book “Mountain Resorts: Ecology and the Law”, the authors lament “the lack of a mandated ecosystem analysis… which hinders a full ecosystem perspective.” To the extent that S. 30 lacks this, it is a shortcoming. I suspect though that some of the supporters don’t want to see this because it could hinder massive development proposals such as being suggested in the Northeast Kingdom; — also, I do not believe that S. 30 lowers the threshold of the so-called… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

Craig,
“Any legislation interferring with the replacement of fossil fuels is misguided.”

The replacement of coal with gas is THE major reducer of CO2 emissions in the US, not the heavily-subsidized, expensive, inefficient RE.

That replacement is happening WITHOUT any additional subsidies and at a much lower cost than RE.

3 years 3 months ago
Craig, See the article about US CO2 reduction in to-day’s NYTimes. US energy related CO2 emissions down 15% from end 2007 to end 2012. The major CO2 emissions reducer was NG, as energy production rose from 21% end 2007 to 30% end 2012, because of abundant, domestic, low-cost, low-CO2 emitting natural gas; What a blessing, because low US energy prices will make the US economically more attractive than Europe and Japan, which suffer under high energy prices mostly due to their lack of domestic gas. At end 2012, RE was just 7% of US energy production, i.e., the drop due… Read more »
Chuck Kletecka
3 years 3 months ago

The Public Service Board uses the same criteria as Act 250 to evaluate local impacts of a project. What is different is its ability to consider these in the larger context of statewide public good. If there were ever a concern that needed a ‘big picture’ point of view it’s climate change.

The intended or consequent effect of this bill would be to slow the development of renewable generating capacity. That capacity is valuable now and will become even more so as we get serious about addressing the reality of climate change.

3 years 3 months ago

Chuck,
It would be more valuable to concentrate on energy efficiency, as it is much less costly to implement and to reduces CO2 emissions more effectively and at less cost than RE.

Carl Werth
3 years 3 months ago

But Willem – there is no added PROFIT in efficiency. No green buisiness is going to stand behind better efficiency when there are big profits to be made.

It’s just like the pharmaceutical industry – they do NOT want people to get better – they want to keep makiing profits from keeping people medicated.

Likewise – efficiency efforts will LOWER folks use of electricity and therefore LOWER their bills.

3 years 3 months ago

Carl,
I am well aware of the lack of profits for RE businesses, if the emphasis and subsidies are shifted from RE to EE.

The future subsidy-shifting is what the RE business owners are afraid of, because EE is:

– sooo much more effective
– sooo much less costly
– sooo much less controversial

than their RE projects.

See my below post on EE with URLs.

John Greenberg
3 years 3 months ago

“there is no added PROFIT in efficiency.”

Nonsense.

There’s profit for the manufacturers, distributors and retailers of products like energy-saving light bulbs, water savers, insulation, etc.

For many products, like insulation and other weatherization measures, there’s profit for the installers as well.

Carl Werth
3 years 3 months ago

Sorry, John – my error – What I really meant was “no added PROFIT in efficiency for power companies”.

John Greenberg
3 years 3 months ago
Unfortunately, you’re correcting one error and falling into another. The power companies do not make money on energy efficiency, but they don’t lose money on it either. I had an extensive conversation with CVPS’s energy planners about precisely this point. In essence, power companies are allowed to cover all (legitimate) costs, including costs for power. But their profits come not from a markup on sales (as in most other businesses) but from an allowed rate of return on the value of their assets. If sales of electricity go down due to efficiency efforts, as long as they have time to… Read more »
Steve Wright
3 years 3 months ago
Chuck, You apparently haven’t completed your basic instruction in climate change fundamentals. Check out NOAA scientist and IPCC member Susan Solomon’s paper on Irreversible Climate Change. That might help you understand the meaning of the word “irreversible.” Climate change is upon us and we cannot avoid it. We can adapt to it to some degree, not by building additional monuments to bad decision-making on our ridgelines, but by protecting those same ridgelines from development. Those places–and their free services such as clean water–are our first bulwark against the effects of irreversible climate change. Next step is reducing our carbon emissions… Read more »
Chuck Nichols
3 years 3 months ago

So Wolfe says “his primary qualm with the bill is the added burden it places on renewable energy generation applicants.

“Fundamentally, the bill speaks to increase the regulatory environment on renewables thereby slowing their development and making their development more expensive,” he said. “Any bill that does that in Vermont is a bad bill and does not move us towards our energy goals or a better economy in Vermont.”

I’ll bet Wolfe supports Act 250, but just not for him or his buddies; let other businesses suffer through Act 250, just not them. What hippocrates they all are.

Nancy Fried
3 years 3 months ago

Sounds like strong arming by special interests at the expense of Vermont Towns and citizens. Nancy

Candy Moot
3 years 3 months ago

Act 250 has TOTALLY been used for regional development. Having been involved in the PSB process, I fully understand that it’s requisite legal formality would be impossible for most Vermonters to penetrate. Additionally, most working Vermonters couldn’t take days or even weeks from work to spend in Montpelier at PSB hearings.

Mr. Wolfe’s threats to Sen. Campbell are outrageous, and I hope the Senator doesn’t capitulate. Having been involved in Vermont’s legislative and regulatory process for nearly 30 years, it was my observation that Mr. Wolfe’s petulant “How dare you!!!” approach was rarely successful over the long haul.

3 years 3 months ago

Candy,

I agree 100%.

Raw strong-arming the legislature, in public no less.

Doing whatever it takes to get easy access to the RE subsidies to build a business.

Those folks built their tunnel to the vault (with campaign “contributions”), and now do not want the vault moved.

A black day for Vermont.

See my below comment.

3 years 3 months ago
The real issue is local control versus subsidized special interest control. Wolfe says he has financially supported Campbell (and probably others) in favor of heavily-subsidized RE, but that was when the people of Vermont had no idea 459-ft high (40-story) wind turbines would create so much havoc on ridge lines. Blittersdorf made threatening statements more than a year ago, when CEDF rule-making was an issue; some board members were asked to resign. It is an insult/outrage against Democracy to publicly threaten Senators elected by the people. Senators should react to such dark threats by voting FOR S-30 to finally show… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
Instead of providing free steamboat rides on the big lake to schoolchildren, I really wish Mr. Pomerleau would help the Therriens. Moreover: Why don’t these businesses make an effort to help the little struggling towns? For one of the mentioned businesses, how about Baskin-Robbins-type ice cream stands? They could easily fit the Act 250 criteria. Or, why don’t they “think big” like Bill Stenger? I am not sure if he’s an American citizen, but I can’t help noticing that he has wisely chosen not to get involved. See below: “John, I’ve supported you for a lot of races,” Wolfe wrote.… Read more »
Jim Christiansen
3 years 3 months ago

Do legislative Democrats value the local control of Act 250, or are they willing to sell out Vermonter to the corporate control that lines their pockets?

It’s really that simple.

It’s really that disgusting.

Nick Partrick
3 years 3 months ago

It’s really that simple.
It’s really that disgusting.
ITS OBVIOUS

MJ Farmer
3 years 3 months ago

Not to mention “smart meter” at almost $1,000 per meter – how is that saving me $ on my ever increasing electric bills.

Paul Donovan
3 years 3 months ago
We may discuss whether it’s strongarming the legislature, packing committees with cronies, or eviscerating local control, but – in my humble (and minority) opinion – climate change is overrunning these debates. The IPCC’s estimates are turning out to be grossly, tragically, underestimated and we should running, not walking, from all carbon-based fuels. Cultural change away from consumerism will help, energy efficiency will help, but all alternative suggestions put together may not even be enough to minimize catastrophic change in the climate. Our economy, our culture, our society and our planet are at grave risk – while we dither about our… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
Paul, “We may discuss whether it’s strongarming the legislature, packing committees with cronies, or eviscerating local control, but – in my humble (and minority) opinion – climate change is overrunning these debates.” You miss the point. This is not about reducing CO2 emissions. This is about the PEOPLE taking back Vermont from the subsidy-coddled, regulation-favored special interests. Their interests are building RE businesses and grabbing as much subsidies as possible, as quickly as possible, before the PEOPLE catch on, for their expensive, tax-sheltered RE projects (mostly owned by millionaires), that produce RE energy at 3.5 times grid prices, which will… Read more »
Rob Macgregor
3 years 3 months ago
Mr. Post, How long is it going to take for you to comprehend that conservation and efficiency efforts cannot PRODUCE electricity? The point being that fossil fuel sourced generation must be replaced along with C&E efforts. Another point (not mentioned in this particular comment but frequently elsewhere) that seems to escape you on a regular basis: the use of natural gas does NOT reduce carbon emissions – at best its use as a fuel for generation slows the rate of increased carbon emissions. Last , your efforts to downplay the fact that a majority of Vermonters support utility scale wind… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
Bob, I am wondering how long it will take Vermonters to comprehend how good EE is for their pocketbooks and for CO2 emission reduction. All the RE hype is likely distracting/befuddling them. The US uses at least 2 times the energy/$ of GDP and at least 3 times the energy per capita, compared to Europe and Japan. That is nothing to be proud of; it makes the US a Pariah in their eyes. If the US seriously practiced EE for some decades, it would not have to build any power plants for some decades, other than normal replacements, AND it… Read more »
craig davids
3 years 3 months ago

Paul, You hold the majority opinion in VT.

Steve Wright
3 years 3 months ago
And unfortunately that majority still believes the drivel coming from Montpelier’s ‘beltway’ enviros, along with the local renewable business trade group. To wit, that is ridiculous to think that little Vermont, a “dust mote” of the planet can do something about irreversible climate change. Such is the scam being run by the cabal of developers and enviros. There is a reason climate change is referred to as “irreversible.” Read the IPCC reports. We can’t change it. But we can adapt to climate change to some extent. First step is to protect the uplands–ridgelines/mountains–from development. A250 did that pretty well. The… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
Now that the supposed factual reasons for supporting wind, solar and bio-mass for electricity generation are falling apart, the industry resorts to threats of retribution against politicians who don’t tow the line. Now, isn’t that a nice addition to Vermont’s image. What’s next, jack booted attitude adjustment thugs telling the folks at Town Meeting day how to behave? At one time, we heard that wind and solar would improve air quality, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, improve our environment and provide assurances that we will be able to turn our lights on into the future. Holes have long been punched… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

Peter,
Great comments.

The brute, hooligan element of RE is surfacing for all to see.

What a well-deserved setback for RE; long overdue.

Let us finally try energy efficiency; it is sooo much less costly and controversial.

John Greenberg
3 years 3 months ago
Peter: Please supply some factual basis for this statement: “At one time, we heard that wind and solar would improve air quality, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, improve our environment and provide assurances that we will be able to turn our lights on into the future. Holes have long been punched in these tales so they’re not repeated any more.” These “tales” most certainly ARE still “repeated” in Vermont, but not just here. They are, in fact, “repeated” and I might add, implemented around the world by the governments representing the largest economies on the planet: the US, China, Germany,… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

John,

“The US oil and gas industries continue to receive tax breaks and other subsidies in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year, despite being highly profitable, mature, businesses.”

If the numbers are that big, there must be sources you are quoting from. Please let us know which sources? I’ll accept EIA/USDOE, etc.

John Greenberg
3 years 3 months ago
Nancy Fried
3 years 3 months ago

Money talks! Buying Votes! Making threats! I’m afraid many of my fellow democrats have become as adults what they despised and fought against in their youth. Nancy

3 years 3 months ago
I barely remember strolling through the town of Zermatt with my father, as a child, to get a closer look at the Matterhorn. But I will never forget having my breath taken away the first time I saw Jay Peak. In other words, the Northeast Kingdom is home to something as magnificent as the most famous mountain in Europe. Moreover, it is used to maximum advantage for all to enjoy. What’s sacred is often profitable as well; however, those who are inclined to mock the sacred will have their say, regardless of the facts. This will be my last post… Read more »
Chuck Kletecka
3 years 3 months ago
I agree with Paul. The reality of climate change is the game changer. On its face to take a position that some large wind on some ridgelines (where some of our best wind is) is completely off the table is simply irresponsible given the magnitude of the problem. If you eliminate one option, someone else eliminates another option then the result in the real world is nothing gets done quick enough. All the subsidies, that I won’t pretend to understand, are because of one basic fact; that’s the only way they are going to get built. It’s not ideal but… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
Chuck, It is true Vermont’s best winds are on ridge lines, but the QUALITY of these winds is miserable. In fact, Vermont is poor for wind energy compared with the Great Plains and the Texas Panhandle. The wind comes to the rotor at all sorts of speeds and directions, because of the irregular upstream terrain. This causes the energy production to be at least 0.25/0.32 = 22% less than vendor-predicted, as confirmed by 5 years of Maine ridge line production data. Add to that the turbine lives being about 17.5 years (per 35 years of Denmark, UK results) versus 25… Read more »
Avram Patt
3 years 3 months ago
Willem Post: I am not disagreeing or agreeing with your assertion that turbine lives may be 17.5 years rather than 25, but would point out that if that is based on 35 years experience in Denmark as you say, them we are including turbines of several generations of older technology, correct? Ancient technology at this point. But my main point is: let’s, for arguments sake, say that the turbines last 17.5 years. This does NOT increase energy cost by 42%! Another commenter tried correcting your calculations recently but you assert them again. The cost of the turbine is just one… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
I don’t pretend to follow all of Willem’s logic and math, but the replacement issue is one that few others are willing to look at with honest discernment. Repairing, building, importing, and retrofitting new turbines at the Lowell site would theoretically begin 15 years from now. Of course, not all the turbines will fail at once, and it may not make sense to recommission fewer than 3-4 at a time. Regardless, doing the math based on today’s costs, which are entirely the product of current fossil fuel accessibility/prices, is pretty shortsighted. I’ll admit that it’s tempting to believe we can… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

Matt,
A very good comment.

Lance Hagen
3 years 3 months ago
Actually Mr. Post’s cost estimate maybe correct based on his ‘lifetime’ information. This is because the cost estimate ($/KWh) determined by the original wind developer was based on a set of conditions that were assumed for a 25 year lifetime. For example, the developer could have assumed that he would need to replace a certain percentage of his capital investment over that 25 year period. It is very unlikely the developer ever assumed he would need to reinvest the entire initial cost of the project (as suggested by Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Patt) Now if the assumed conditions happen in… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

Lance,
Estimating how the Lowell IWT project will turn out over a 25-year lifespan is a very difficult task that even confounds the experts, especially because such US projects have not yet gone through replacement cycles, as they have elsewhere.

The human tendency is to be optimistic, to make the project look good on paper, not wanting to be a spoil-sport for the boss’s pet RE project. I have learned from bitter experience to be safe, i.e., pessimistic.

3 years 3 months ago
Avram, Your are right about the 42%; it is likely less. With such new and complex projects one really does not know. When doing its 25-year spreadsheet analysis for Lowell, GMP likely assumed a Residual Value at the end of the project, as is customary. This RV reduced the levelized energy cost to about 10c/kWh. We can assume the Lowell IWTs will be refurbished and replaced, as needed, within the 25-year span, and beyond, to maintain an on-going producing facility. O&M may turn out to be greater than estimated. The conditions are severe, especially in winter when winds are stronger… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
Avram, As a follow up: I think GMP would be justified to have a Lowell Residual Value of 25-30% of the project capital cost. If it did use such a value, it would have reduced its levelized cost to the reported 10c/kWh. For this project, I would use a levelized cost spreadsheet with two sections; one for the turbines (owning+O&M) covering the mast, nacelle and rotors, etc., and one for the Residual Value (owning+O&M), the latter having a much longer useful service life. For each year, the (owning+O&M)s of the two sections would be added. Regarding IWT replacements: Those will… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 3 months ago

Willem:

You write: “As a follow up: I think GMP would be justified to have a Lowell Residual Value of 25-30% of the project capital cost. If it did use such a value, it would have reduced its levelized cost to the reported 10c/kWh.”

Do I understand that, thanks to the residual value of the project capital cost, you’re now AGREEING with GMP’s 10 cent figure?

Is that what you’re saying, or am I missing something

Lance Hagen
3 years 3 months ago

Chuck,

In all honesty, do you really think that wind turbines in Vermont are going to avoid significant amounts of CO2 and reduce climate change? If so, please share your yearly estimate of avoided CO2 per each wind turbine and how much this will influence climate change.

In your panic to address this so called ‘emergency’, you will grasp at anything that floats by, even if it has

– 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

Eric Robichaud
3 years 3 months ago

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get rid of this bill! The planet has a temperature and we need wind turbines in large scale in Vermont to turn back the clocks of time.

Altruists like Mr Wolf need to be listened to…….NOW!

Won’t you please think of the children!

Lance Hagen
3 years 3 months ago

Eric,

Before you go off the deep end, please read this New York Times article.

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/a-closer-look-at-moderating-views-of-climate-sensitivity/

Seems that some major climate scientists are now hinting that the climate may not be as sensitive to CO2 levels as had been originally projected. You see, they can’t seem to explain why the global temperature has not changed over the past 15 years, while CO2 levels continue to increase.

3 years 3 months ago

I’m pretty sure Eric was being sarcastic. He can correct me if I’m wrong.

3 years 3 months ago
I would have to agree with your litany of things that are at “grave risk”, except of course for “the planet”. Such foolishly extreme hyperbole is typical of the doomsday fear mongering engaged in by those who have swallowed Al Gore’s “climage change” garbage. Our planet will continue to cleanse itself of any and every challenge that nature and man can present it with by way of “pollution”. And anyone gullible enough to believe that the earth cannot handle a little excess of CO2, is simply beyond reasoning with. As to our “culture” and “society”, yes industrial wind has placed… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
“And do not accuse me and my industry of trashing Vermont for the sake of jobs. Renewable energy is a necessity to maintain our environment, to combat the scourge to Vermont (and the world) that global climate disruption will be. You either believe that, or you do not. If you believe that, then as a real Vermonter you would want a good portion of that energy created in Vermont to provide a more resilient infrastructure, keep our costs under control, and not foist our needs on others.” Will the “real” Vermonters please stand up? Grid-tied solar and wind is anything… Read more »
Annette Smith
3 years 3 months ago
The “altruists” are promoting their economic interests, at the expense of many Vermonters who they are sacrificing, without compensation. These new “urban environmentalists” have already discarded protections against development above 2500 feet, protections for Class A1 headwater streams, and protections for neighbors of these big wind projects, all without any evidence that these big wind machines on New England’s mountains are actually reducing fossil fuel consumption or ghg emissions. The emotionalism of the climate change activists reveal no compassion or even any interest in understanding what this industrial technology is doing to our communities. Most of the commenters who support… Read more »
Stan Shapiro
3 years 3 months ago

Lets say S.30 gets through the senate,it’s hard to imagine the house energy chairman will even let it get out of committee.The former energy lobbyist has strong convictions.The most powerful politcians in the state oppose the bill.I can’t imagine they are feeling threatened.The IWT story however has exposed how things really work in the state.As one writer put it this is more about local determination vs central control and the rewards of power and money for the revolving door players who embody the political culture of our state.

3 years 3 months ago

Stan,
You are right.

Rep. Klein will pretty well do what Shumlin tells him to do, unless he gets of the reservation with his 55 c/meter tax to finance the Clean Energy Development Fund; Shumlin termed it regressive.

I can think of a few items that are also regressive, such as the EV tax on struggling household electric bills.

Nick Partrick
3 years 3 months ago

Renewable Energy Vermont. Big business butting in again. Caring for and being the steward of our beautiful state most certainly does not “hang a sign on the door of Vermont saying, ‘no renewable energy jobs or projects welcome here.’”

It fact it does just the opposite, it shows caring and desire to control our own destiny. Blasting away a ridge line is permanent. Mountain tops do not grow back. Solar works. Almost anywhere you want to put it without destroying the community values.

We need to be careful and think this through. Our ‘views’ are a driving force or our economic engine.

3 years 3 months ago
So several businesses are opposed to S.30 and some of them are Vermont household names such as Ben and Jerry’s, Green Mountain Power and Pomerleau Real Estate. These are all good companies, but please lets stop hyperventilating over their points of view when it comes to wind and solar. First of all, let’s take Ben and Jerry’s off of its environmentalist pedestal by remembering that Ben and Jerry are long gone. This company is now simply a division of the multi-billion dollar Anglo-Dutch Unilever conglomerate head- quartered in London with CO2 belching manufacturing plants around the globe. Of course they… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

Peter,
I agree 100%. Great comment.

3 years 3 months ago

OOooo! the “the scourge” (warm temperatures) is going to be “fully upon us”!

No sooner do I point out the typical fearmongering, than I am validated by another sadly duped disciple of All Gore’s phoney “climate change” gospel.

And BTW there are people like myself who deny global warming for reasons other than “financial interests,
“such as refusing to be stampeded like the rest of the herd.

3 years 3 months ago
Mr. Brodie, Borrowing Mr. Wolfe’s word to describe a warmer future was intended to be tongue in cheek, despite my assumption that the future will most certainly be less comfortable and anything but “climate controlled.” While I agree with your previous comment regarding the stabilizing abilities of natural systems, I assure you I am not “another sadly duped disciple of All Gore’s phoney “climate change” gospel,” having written: “Many scientists and environmentalists are convinced that the amount CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere is the most important indicator of climate change. This may be true, but other factors besides CO2 are… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago

Montpelier continues efforts to foster the dubious title, deserved or not…”Vermont..the business unfriendly state”. Did someone say another gasoline tax ?

Kevin Jones
3 years 3 months ago
It is okay for citizens in Vermont who support environmental protection, renewable energy and a strong economy to have differing opinions. I for one do not believe that those whom support S.30 like Senators Joe Benning or Bob Hartwell or Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell intend anything other than to do what is best for Vermont’s environment and economy. Down my way in Rutland County multiple towns have expressed strong concern with wind development on the ridgelines in response to the multiple projects proposed here. Concerned citizens in these towns come from all aspects of the political spectrum and… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
Kevin, Energy enters the grid as electro-magnetic waves which travel near the speed of light; 1800 miles in 0.01 second, about from Northern Maine to Southern Florida in 0.01 second. To think any energy is local is invalid. If GMP sells 10 c/kWh IWT energy to Vermont Electric Cooperative, then VEC reduces its 10 c/kWh cost by about 5.5 c/kWh, the value of the REC, for a net VEC cost of 4.5c/kWh which is similar to grid prices; a good deal for VEC rate payers CO2 emissions and other pollution are reduced by wind energy generation and that is a… Read more »
Kevin Jones
3 years 3 months ago
Willem – While I understand you think renewable energy is too expensive, I actually think continuing to burn fossil fuels in the long-term is more expensive. I have never suggested anyone should “eliminate RECs”. As you well know my point has been that the Vermont SPEED and Standard Offer programs are sham renewable programs because rather than requiring Vermont’s utilities to retire the RECs for the benefit of thier customers and the climate, the SPEED program facilitates the sale of the RECs into out of state programs. Obviously wind and solar facilities result in carbon reductions but if a utlity… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
Kevin, Lowell reduces CO2 in New England which is good for the environment. Lowell charges VEC 10 c/kWh and VEC gets an REC which it sells to an out of state entity for 5.5 c/kWh, thus lowering VECs energy cost to 4.5 c/kWh, which is good for VEC rate payers. So far I see no problem with this setup. The out of state entity now owns an REC which enables it to legally avoid reducing its CO2. So far I see no problem with this setup. That I would prefer all CO2 reducers do it by means of energy efficiency… Read more »
Jon Walker
3 years 3 months ago

It’s interesting that the mainstream enviros in Vermont now think that blowing up mountain tops, destroying and fragmenting habitat, and disrupting the water retention abilities of our green mountains is sound “environmental health” policy.

3 years 3 months ago

Jon,
CO2 has steadily increased, largely due to China, but the world average temperature has not increased for about 15 years.

The subjective, man-invented climate models predicted a temperature RISE of 0.3C for those 15 years.

Leading, intelligent, Vermont RE folks are still scare-mongering to protect/increase RE subsidies, hoping no one will notice.

3 years 3 months ago

Willem Post say’s ” Peter, great comments” ,while on the other hand John Greenberg says: Peter. Please supply factual basis….”

My wife tells me that I have to go to Hannaford’s to get something for lunch, so I’ll let Willem and John argument this thing out.

3 years 3 months ago
John, I stated that if GMP had used a residual value of about 25-30% of the project cost (which I think is reasonable) in its 25-year spreadsheet, it would have lowered its levelized cost to its reported value of 10c.kWh. Also, see my second response to Avram in which I would have set up the Lowell spreadsheet in two sections; one for the residual value (which has a much longer life than the IWTs which would have its own (owning+O&M cost) and the other for the turrbines (mast, nacelle, rotor, etc.,) which would also have its own (owning+O&M) costs; adding… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 3 months ago
Willem Yes, I certainly do have further questions. I saw both of your previous comments, which you essentially repeat here, but I don’t understand your answer. Let’s review. In previous posts on VT Digger, you’ve repeatedly asserted that GMP came up with a 10c figure, but your calculations prove that the real figure should actually be 19c. I then contested that figure, pointing out (as Avram did also) that you were making the project life the equivalent of the life of only one component, namely the turbine, for which you asserted a lifetime of 15-20 vs 25 years, and that… Read more »
3 years 3 months ago
John, I indeed concede the point you and Avram made. I would have the Lowell spreadsheet in two sections, one for the Residual Value portion and one for the wind turbine portion. GMP likely did not do that. Also, I have no information regarding the RV assumed by GMP for their calculations (may be Avram does, certainly, the PSB has the RV), and what the (Owning+O&M) is for each portion, so, for MY calculation purposes, I used 40% of the levelized cost being for the RV portion, etc. Here is my revised calculation. As expected, MY revised calculated energy cost… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 3 months ago
Willem: Thanks for responding and for acknowledging my point. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t have a spreadsheet “pony” in this race. Without seeing each spreadsheet, following in detail how they are constructed, and seeing precisely how and where they differ, I don’t pretend to have any idea about who is right, if anyone, about costs. The devil is likely to be in the details, to which I don’t have access, and in this case, I don’t see any particular need for me to get that far into the weeds. As to one versus 2 spreadsheets, that is… Read more »
Wendy Wilton
3 years 3 months ago

Great comments here and kudos to Senate pro tem John Campbell for standing up to threatening powerful special interests. It’s about time that happens and should be a more common occurance at the statehouse.

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