CLF seeks more details on plans to conduct more Canadian hydropower through Vermont

Carillon Hydro-electric Dam, Pointe Fortune, Quebec. Photo by Mac Armstrong.

Carillon Hydro-electric Dam, Pointe Fortune, Quebec. Photo by Mac Armstrong.

Vermont has agreed to work with other states to bring large amounts of Canadian hydroelectric power to the region to meet growing energy needs. Environmentalists say that prospect could harm ratepayers and the environment.

Vermont partnered with five other New England states and Canada last year to share the cost of the transmission infrastructure needed to carry hydroelectric power from Canada. The additional power would help states meet their renewable energy goals and fill in for other power stations soon to go offline, such as Vermont Yankee.

The regional energy plan does not detail the impacts the proposal might have on ratepayers and the environment in Vermont. The plan includes a sweeping build-out of natural gas and electric transmission infrastructure, according to Sandra Levine, a senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation.

CLF this week filed a public records request to the state for all documents related to transmission build-outs, natural gas pipeline capacity and hydropower imports from Canada. The requests were sent to the other states as well.

The Department of Public Service said new transmission projects to bring hydropower to the region would drive down the cost of electricity by competing with natural gas – which is used in other states as a source of electricity during peak demand periods.

“Under no circumstances would we support a project where the benefits did not outweigh the costs,” Commissioner Chris Recchia said Friday.

The law foundation filed its request to find out the details of the energy plan – including which private-sector developers are involved.

“The Governors’ regional energy plan appears to be the product of backroom deal-making rather than sound public policy informed by open dialogue,” said Seth Kaplan, vice president of policy and climate advocacy at CLF, in a statement this week.

Vermont has made progress on building out a distributed electricity portfolio – largely through its net metering program, which allows residents and business to generate their own electricity. Sourcing new power from Canada is not designed to replace the state’s growing small-scale energy industry, Recchia said.

An estimated $5.4 billion will be invested in the region’s transmission infrastructure over the next four years, according to a recent ISO New England report.

Through the partnership, Vermont will be able to share its distributed generation model – which has saved the state $400 million in the past several years – with other states, reducing the need for some new transmission projects in the long term, according to the department.

“To the extent that we can get the states to reduce those transmission projects, we save a lot of money,” Recchia said.

Nonetheless, developers have their eyes on transmission corridors to bring hydroelectric power to the region — one proposal would carry a high voltage power cable under Lake Champlain and beyond; another would pass across Maine; and the controversial Northern Pass would clear a path through New Hampshire’s northern forests to bring power to Massachusetts.

One developer, Transmission Developers Inc., or TDI New England, has plans to run a 150-mile cable from Canada to southern Vermont. The New England Clean Power Link, as it’s called, needs state and federal approval.

Electric vehicles

The regional leaders also looked at expanding electric vehicle infrastructure, including the 138-mile Vermont-Quebec Electric Vehicle Charging Corridor, a news release stated last year.

The governors have agreed to put 3.3 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2025. The chair of Vermont’s Climate Cabinet has made electric vehicles – and the infrastructure demands that come with them – a top priority in the years ahead.

“Almost half of our emissions in Vermont come from transportation,” Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources Deb Markowitz said Thursday. “So it’s a top priority in my agency as to how do we help create the right environment to make electric vehicles the right choice for Vermont families.”

She is working on building out a “green corridor” that would first connect Burlington to Montreal (and later down to Boston, Mass., and as far as New York City). Critical to this plan is setting up universal signage and adequate electric vehicle charging stations at homes, businesses, and along the corridor, she said. Already, about 50 percent of Vermont communities have at least one electric vehicle, she said.

John Herrick

Leave a Reply

37 Comments on "CLF seeks more details on plans to conduct more Canadian hydropower through Vermont"

1000

Comment Policy

VTDigger.org requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Be succinct and to the point. If your comment is over 500 words, consider sending a commentary instead.

We personally review and moderate every comment that is posted here. This takes a lot of time; please consider donating to keep the conversation productive and informative.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage a civil discourse among readers who are willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. VTDigger has created a safe zone for readers who wish to engage in a thoughtful discussion on a range of subjects. We hope you join the conversation.

Privacy policy
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Paul Lorenzini
2 years 6 months ago

THE GIANT STATE OF VERMONT IS KILLING THE ENVIRONMENT WITH EXCESSIVE HYDROCARBONS EMITTED BY YOUR AFFORDABLE TRANSPORTATION.

lol!

2 years 6 months ago
In the article above, Commissioner Recchia stated: “Under no circumstances would we support a project where the benefits did not outweigh the costs,” The biggest energy project that the state has probably ever undertaken is the 95% renewable energy initiative. Based on what the Commissioner said today, there has to be comprehensive cost /benefit analysis supporting the 95% initiative. So, Commissioner Reechia now that you have articulated the Shumlin Administration’s standard in no uncertain terms, can you please direct us to the analysis demonstrating that the benefits of covering our state with industrial solar and wind projects are greater than… Read more »
Kathy Nelson
2 years 6 months ago
Nicely stated, Mr. Yankowski. I am also wondering why the powers that be have forgotten about the vast number of vehicles that will never be converted to electricity. Vehicles like farm tractors, excavators, skidders, roadgraders, snowplows, dump trucks, firetrucks. insanely armored vehicles for the police and national guard to play rambo with, eighteen-wheelers and big delivery trucks. Also, since there is no such thing as an electric four-wheel drive I doubt we’ll be seeing many electric cars on VT’s numerous dirt back roads. I also doubt that commercial loggers will be using electric chainsaws, and I have yet to see… Read more »
Richard Ratico
2 years 6 months ago
Kathy, A local farm has been using least one electric tractor for several years. They may have as many as three of them now. Subaru offers a hybrid four-wheel drive, as do others. Pure electric forklifts have been used for decades. Diesel/electric locomotives are the mainstay of our rail system. High quality electric motorcycles have been available for several years. Tesla, of course, already has a spectacularly successful automobile. Fossil fuels will become yet more expensive. They are dirty fuels. They are more valuable as the feedstock for many manufactured products we depend on. The fuel for wind and solar… Read more »
Tom Sullivan
2 years 6 months ago

Well said Richard. Stihl also manufactures a professional line of lithium ion rechargeable chainsaws, and tesla is going to feature a 4wheel drive electric vehicle next year. Its also pretty despicable to slander the national guard just to make a point. I get the fact that you dislike renewable energy, and your certainly entitled to your opinion. But your not doing your cause any justice with such comments.
regards

Paul Lorenzini
2 years 6 months ago

I totally agree that vehicles can be powered by electricity, however, we cannot eat electricity, so why would we want to cover farm fields with solar?

Richard Ratico
2 years 6 months ago

We cover farm fields with solar so they don’t get covered with Dollar Stores.

Willem Post
2 years 5 months ago
Kathy, Fossil fuels started to be used around 1800. Their low cost and abundance made possible the population explosion from 1 billion in 1800 to an estimated 9.5 billion by 2050. It is no possible for renewables to ever be that low in cost, as they are capital- intensive and take up large areas, and typically last about 20-30 years, versus 40 to 60 years for coal, nuclear, and gas plantS, and about 100 years for hydro plants. That means, as fossil fuels run out, the world’s present population cannot be supported by RE, unless very significant lifestyle changes are… Read more »
Faeterri Silver
2 years 6 months ago
Please also include the petroleum cost of the use of large trucks and equipment to construct such infrastructure, and the energy costs to built the materials for this infrastructure. I have property in a community in Canada that this proposed power transmission line is going before it crosses the Cabot Strait into Nova Scotia (mega-hydro from Labrador – Nalcor’s Muskrat Falls and Lower Churchill Falls projects) to come to the eastern US markets. Work is being done, regardless that there have been no agreements from the US, 1. to give (temporary) jobs to Canadians to build this infrastructure and 2.… Read more »
Kim Fried
2 years 6 months ago

Many, many citizens would perfer Hydro as a substitute for destroying the Northeast part of the state with 500 foot turbines on our mountain ridgelines.
As for Sec. Deb Markowitz, I’m not sure about Afghanistan, but I am sure she needs to spend more of her time taking care of our wildlife and water and let some else sell cars.

George Plumb
2 years 6 months ago
Thanks CLF for taking on this controversial challenge. We should keep in mind that it is not just the damage to the Vermont environment but also the Canadian environment. The massive Hydro-Quebec dams have flooded tens of thousands of acres of forest land, destroyed ecosystems of the majority of their large rivers, released tons of methane gases, and brought industrial development to land that once could be accessed only by canoes. The company has also destroyed much of the indigenous culture by changing their lifestyle and literally buying them off. But its “renewable energy” and as long as the cost… Read more »
Rob Pforzheimer
2 years 6 months ago
Hypocrisy & Double Standards. “Under no circumstances would we support a project where the benefits did not outweigh the costs,” Commissioner Chris Recchia said Friday. That’s funny because the DPS has supported every wind project without weighing the true costs. Recchia makes this claim without any supporting detail, “Vermont will be able to share its distributed generation model – which has saved the state $400 million in the past several years.” How did it save VT, with some of the highest electric rates in the country, anything? “The Governors’ regional energy plan appears to be the product of backroom deal-making… Read more »
Willem Post
2 years 5 months ago

Rob,

The $400 million number is thrown out just like that without any supporting evidence.

The same approach was used for the 90%RE goal. There is evidence of any analysis in the 2011 CEP.

The only purpose of the goal is so RE folks can say this or that will hinder Vermont getting to the goal.

Immediately, legislators shrink away from challenging, because it is all so “complicated”. Some of them even tout the numbers Recchia throws out, as if it were the Gospel.

John Greenberg
2 years 5 months ago

Willem,
How can there be “evidence” for a goal?

What would such “evidence” look like?

2 years 6 months ago
So, the New England Governor’s have agreed to put 3.3 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2025. This is amazing, how do they “agree” to put this number of vehicles on the road? Did these Governors use the same analytical process that Vermont used to arrive at the highly scientific conclusion that we should have 95% renewable energy by 2050? Do these Governors have any idea that in 2013, only about 60,000 electric vehicles were sold in the entire United States out of a total of 15.6 million cars and pickup trucks sold? What’s more, the automotive sales trend… Read more »
Coleman Dunnar
2 years 6 months ago
Peter you asked: “Did these Governors use the same analytical process that Vermont used to arrive at the highly scientific conclusion that we should have 95% renewable energy by 2050?” According to my sources a very complicated econometric model is used (too complicated to detail here). It’s called “Pick a Number any Number” The model evaluates what sounds good politically against what sounds even better politically. When they run it the reality loop auto-disconnects. An example of the output is Deb Markowitz’s definition of ubiquitous “Already, about 50 percent of Vermont communities have at least one electric vehicle”, she said.… Read more »
2 years 6 months ago

Coleman:

I generally agree with your thinking, but in this case a major correction is called for.

Specifically: The New England Governor’s did not use the “Pick a Number any Number” econometric model you cite even though it is highly regarded and frequently used in Montpelier.

They instead elected to use the more sophisticated “Drop the Dead Cat from the 5th Floor System” and if it bounces the answer is 3.3 million electric cars.

Paul Lorenzini
2 years 6 months ago

kind of like the global warming models?

Willem Post
2 years 5 months ago
Coleman, RE is somewhat like religion, people make up things that do not stand up to rigorous analysis. RE very often is faith-based, not fact-based. Take the example of GMP hanging up stories about wind turbine capacity factors on ridge line, which had no basis in reality. Capacity factors were pulled out of a hat, and the PSB rushed to swallow that garbage hook line and sinker, just so GMP could get to the subsidies as quickly as possible. The $10.5 million synchronous-condenser system is still not on line; it was supposed to be on line at the end of… Read more »
2 years 6 months ago
Peter, Here is and analysis of poor Vermont’s RE program. The 90% goal is much more ambitious than of rich Germany, which is having second thoughts about the costs of its RE programs. Having a costly corridor of charging stations, at about $50,000 each, every few miles, for electric vehicles, from Montreal to Boston is far beyond rational. Who will pay for this? This is wasteful government aggrandizement at its worst. How come these bureaucrats are still on the state payroll? Who keeps re-electing those legislators that are in league with these bureaucrats? Already-struggling households and businesses have been dealing… Read more »
2 years 6 months ago
Willem: Thank you for the input, it is always sound and informative…….much more than we get from our elected and appointed state officials. A few months ago, I had a long conversation with Commissioner Recchia about what cost/benefit analysis the State had done before embarking on the 95% renewable energy initiative. While being very pleasant in dealing with me, the Commissioner did a lot of hemming and hawing about analysis, but in the end could not cite anything that addressed comprehensive cost/benefit analysis done by the State. The plain sorry reality is that you Willem Post, probably have more cost/benefit… Read more »
Richard Ratico
2 years 6 months ago

Mr. Post may not be the expert on energy matters he claims to be, but give him credit, he IS sensitive to the fact that most of the wind turbine haters posting here would not share his affection for nukes and natural gas.

Willem, here’s some suggested reading to get you up to speed:
http://seattletimes.com/html/books/2023168527_lochbaumfukushimaxml.html

2 years 6 months ago

Mr. Ratico:

What qualifications do you have to be passing judgment on another person’s expertise on energy or any topic for that matter?

Richard Ratico
2 years 6 months ago
Mr Yankowski, I claim no special qualification other than having lived long enough to have become wary of anyone claiming to have all the answers, particularly when those answers fly in the face of common sense or simply prove to be false. Anyone sufficiently arrogant and foolish to BOAST of their purported expertise invites careful scrutiny of whatever it is they advocate. Mr Post has repeatedly been caught out making statements that are simply not true, including by myself as regards Vermont’s net metering program. I am a participant in that program, in that I help my clients to install… Read more »
2 years 6 months ago

Mr. Ratico:

Okay, now we understand your motivation……..you’re engaged in the solar business and stand to benefit financially from its growth, but you’re open minded about it.

That’s fine.

That being said, one would have expected you to have spoken out loudly and clearly by now about how poorly some some of these industrial renewable energy projects have preformed from a reliability and cost point of view. The negative impact of these industrial projects on communities is also a subject that cannot be ignored.

So when do we face these facts?

Willem Post
2 years 6 months ago

Peter,
Thank you for your comments.

Some people, such as Richard would not have a solar business, if it were not for the excessive PV solar subsidies. He should be grateful we are all chipping in to make it possible.

Regarding the net metering law, GMP treats customers differently, if they are in the GMP North territory, or in the GMP South territory, the former CVPS area, where standard net metering rules apply.

It is a mystery to me, that Vermont does not have a statewide net metering standard which is the same for every user.

Richard Ratico
2 years 6 months ago

Mr. Yankowski,

No, you don’t understand my motivation. Very little of the income from my business as a self employed licensed electrician comes from solar work, though it is always welcome.

What motivates me is a desire to leave a better world for my children and grandchildren……and for yours as well should you have any. What motivates me is my anger at reading the lies that are too frequently posted here.

Willem Post
2 years 5 months ago

Peter,
I am not sure, but Richard is an electrician who has his own business.

2 years 6 months ago

This is amazing, how do they “agree” to put this number of vehicles on the road?

Peter – the Government will buy them, like always, with your tax $$$. Soon, we will see all the people under the golden dome driving electric cars and all the Agencies silently humming around in these cars. Yep, it’s one of those special interest deals where they are to big to fail if they roll these cars out.

Kim Fried
2 years 6 months ago

Please put me on the list for a highly, very highly subsidized electric car, which can get at least a couple hundred miles of commute without being recharged.

2 years 6 months ago

Kim,

It will go only half that range on cold days, say 20F.

Todd Spayth
2 years 6 months ago

I’d be interested in hearing more about the charging plazas along the greenway. Will there be Starbucks, BK, Mc D, Cin-a-bon? And maybe a movie theater so while my car is charging I’ll be entertained? Don’t forget to calculate those facilities build-out costs AND impacts in the analysis.

Glenn Thompson
2 years 6 months ago
From the article! “The regional leaders also looked at expanding electric vehicle infrastructure, including the 138-mile Vermont-Quebec Electric Vehicle Charging Corridor, a news release stated last year.” Pure Utopian fantasy! The only electric vehicle capable of making that trip without a charge is the Tesla! The rest, would need to stop and get recharged for several hours. Who is going is going to attempt to make that trip in an electric vehicle when it takes less than 5 minutes to fill up a gas tank….and most vehicles can make it round trip without filling up? FYI, as I spend my… Read more »
J. Scott Cameron
2 years 6 months ago
Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. No matter what is proposed some segment of Vermonter voters will oppose it. If not the voters and politicians, we have plenty of environmental agencies and non-profits to take out the trash. Wind? Wonderful, but not on our ridge lines. Solar? Great for Arizona but don’t mess with my view of a hillside or pasture that someone else owns, cause that’s why I moved here. Hydro? Not at the expense of covering a Native burial ground or vital woodchuck habitat. Natural gas? Frack you! Coal? We’re still suing Ohio… Read more »
Jed Guertin
2 years 6 months ago
Wondered when the 2002 VELCO North West Reliability Project would rear its ugly head again. One of the transmission lines from the New Haven massive substation, (New Haven is a major VT growth center) approved by the PSD would trisect Vergennes with 90 foot towers and a giant substation in the Vergennes/Otter Creek Historic Basin. The PSD agreed with GMP/VELCO that the transmission line would have NO social, environmental, or economic impact on the city. In addition the PSD engineered an unwarned meeting between the City fathers and GMP (now GMP President mary Powell was in attendance) along with a… Read more »
2 years 6 months ago

Sure, regulate Vermont to death, shut down any hydro electric we had, say, “clean energy” by 2025, say, “we can be energy independent with solar and wind’ and then bring in a huge deal with a huge Corp. – what! what!

So, gas lines, oil lines, electric lines, wind generators, solar panels, Corporations and Government. Seems all these things belong in the same filing cabinet, after all, they all are joined at the hip – wearing starched collars and three piece suits.

Willem Post
2 years 6 months ago

The DPS claims Vermont saved $400 million due it’s distributed energy model.

To come with that number, there must have been some spreadsheet analysis.

Why not made the analysis public information in the DPS website, include assumptions and sources of information, instead of just throwing out a number that appears off the charts?

DPS has to stop acting like Madison Avenue and start acting like engineers.

wpDiscuz
Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "CLF seeks more details on plans to conduct more Canadian hydropower t..."