Governor cautious on build-out of energy delivery infrastructures

STOWE — Gov. Peter Shumlin tapped the brakes on a fast moving initiative to build out new electrical transmission and natural gas pipeline infrastructure in order to bring much needed power into New England.

Speaking at the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners’ annual conference on energy policy in Stowe on Monday, Shumlin said the proposed massive energy infrastructure build-out could leave states stranded with avoidable costs.

Gov. Peter Shumlin addresses the Senate Health and Welfare and House Health Care committees during a  joint meeting Tuesday at the Statehouse. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger

Gov. Peter Shumlin at the Statehouse in January. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger

“I’m not sure that we really know with the evolutions of technology and the local, distributed generation of power that we are not going to be paying for huge stranded costs if we build tons and tons of delivery,” Shumlin told a gathering of energy regulators, investors and businesses.

The New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners is a nonprofit corporation, composed of utility regulators, designed to address energy challenges in the region. Vermont Public Service Board Chair James Volz is the president of the organization.

The event brings together key players in the energy industry to set the course for New England’s energy future. This year’s focus was how to balance an urgent need for electricity in the region with emerging technologies.

The region is considering importing Canadian hydropower and building new natural gas pipeline infrastructure to drive down electricity prices, fill in for looming supply shortages, and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, all six New England governors agreed to attract the necessary infrastructure investments by sharing the costs among all the region’s electricity ratepayers.

But Shumlin, the governor of a state considered to be a possible “energy corridor” for transmitting some of this power, said these multi-billion dollar projects may be obsolete in the coming decades.

“What we don’t know is what technology might do to the assumptions we make right now,” he said.

He said cellphones now have the same computing power as computers that were once the size of homes. Likewise, new technologies could soon lessen the need to transmit large amounts of power from faraway areas, he said.

“I would ask us to think broadly and creatively about how we get it right so that we have enough, so that no one is left behind, so that the price is right … but also so that we don’t end up 10 to 20 years down the road with lots of stranded costs,” he said.

Vermont would not likely purchase any of the additional power the region is seeking to import and is partly isolated from the price spikes that caused record high electricity prices for much of the region last winter.

But several generating stations, including Vermont Yankee, are set to retire in the next few years. This poses “serious reliability risk to the region,” according to ISO New England, the region’s grid operator. Massachusetts is considering legislation that would require utilities to purchase long-term contracts for renewable power in order to meet new carbon reduction goals.

Marcy Reed is president of National Grid in Massachusetts, one of the region’s largest electricity utilities serving Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The company supports an initiative.

“We really do have to act regionally whether it’s on clean energy resources from the north or gas from the west,” she said in an interview. “Everyone has a stake in this. Everyone has a dog in this fight.”

John Herrick

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103 Comments on "Governor cautious on build-out of energy delivery infrastructures"

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1 year 11 months ago
“He said cellphones now have the same computing power as computers that were once the size of homes. Likewise, new technologies could soon lessen the need to transmit large amounts of power from faraway areas, he said.” To compare cell phones with energy generation is an entirely improper, it is pure nonsense and shows a deep lack of understanding of technologies. Shumlin said, before he was elected, Germany was getting 30% of its electricity from PV solar, whereas, at that time, it was about 2.5%. Yikes!! “NEW technologies COULD SOON lessen the need to transmit …….” What new technologies? How… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Willem, You say: “To compare cell phones with energy generation is an entirely improper, it is pure nonsense and shows a deep lack of understanding of technologies.” I disagree. The governor’s point is actually quite well taken: namely, that the capability of computers changed at an exceedingly fast pace, which is reflected in substantial drops in price over time, and that exactly the same thing is now happening in the energy field, though at a rapid (though admittedly less dizzying) pace. Thus: “… the cost of an average solar panel in 1980 was $21 per watt (eg: a 15 watt… Read more »
Sam Lincoln
1 year 11 months ago
As a layperson, with no expertise other than writing a check for electricity each month, my concern with all of this is that elected officials said we could close down Vermont Yankee as there was 2-3 times the supply of power in New England to meet the current demand and we didn’t need VY. VY hasn’t even shut down yet and the articles regarding the new transmission lines have an underlying tone that the region is going to be short of power in the coming years. Are our elected and appointed officials that short sighted or am I missing the… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Sam, Perhaps you can cite someone who actually said: “we could close down Vermont Yankee as there was 2-3 times the supply of power in New England to meet the current demand and we didn’t need VY,” but I never heard anyone make such a statement. Instead, during the years that VY’s CPG was being debated (2008-2012), I for one said that the ISO-NE auctions showed is that there were roughly 8,000 MW of excess capacity in New England. Since VY generates about 640 MW, I argued, that showed that VY could be shut down safely. It is worth adding… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago

There is no complexity with, and to the point, zeropoint distribution, because a primitive, archaic (ie any) grid is never of use.

Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago
YIKES. Willem recommends putting all the eggs in one basket. Smart, but not wise, AGAIN! Vermont already has enough mega hydro in it’s energy mix. Local distributed energy from PV reduces the load on our distribution systems, reduces the need for expensive, controversial transmission upgrades, provides good local jobs and provides energy security. Battery storage solutions are being developed. They are cost effective in parts of California already. Tesla sells an amazing vehicle with a 260 mile range. Vermont leads the nation in the deployment of smart meters. SCADA systems will and are being adapted to allow the grid to… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago
Richard, All eggs in one basket? Your statement is pure nonsense. NE annual consumption is about 130,000 GWh. Canadian excess HYDRO capacity available to NE, already built, would be at most about 6000 MW, or 6 GW, and that capacity would have a capacity factor of about 0.5, and annual production of 6 x 8760 x 0.5 = 26,280 GWh If ALL Canadian excess capacity were used in NE, it would be about 26,280/130,000 = 20.2% of NE consumption. This would leave plenty of room for much more expensive, variable, intermittent PV solar energy, etc. that is minimal or zero… Read more »
Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago

Willem,

My comment was in regard to Vermont’s energy mix. You are speaking about NE, while attacking Vermont’s PV.

More Canadian hydro may be appropriate for southern NE. We have enough of it in VT already.

1 year 11 months ago
John, The Governor should not be making speeches on energy, because his knowledge of the subject is shallow, as is the case for most people. There is more to a PV solar system than the cost of PV panels. Current roof-mounted SYSTEM costs, 10 kW or less, are about $4000/kW, less with subsidies. They last about 25 years, whereas power plants range from about 35 years (for CCGT gas turbines) to about 100 years (for hydro). On average, the DC to AC inverter needs to be replaced about every 8 years. For larger capacity systems the cost is less. David… Read more »
Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago

Willem,

The governor depends on the advice of a team. That team includes experts in many disciplines, including energy.

They do much more than the “Googling” that you engage in to make their policy decisions. You have declared yourself an expert, but the evidence in your posts belies that.

Many of the critical issues we face as a nation and as individuals on an increasingly connected planet can and should be “socialized”. Pure capitalism has failed as an economic system.

Google Thomas Piketty. Here’ the link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Piketty

1 year 11 months ago

Richard,

“We have enough of it in VT already.”

Says who?

Norway gets 98% of its energy from hydro.

Vermont should get at least 50% of its energy from hydro, and so should the rest of New England, to replace aging coal and nuclear plants, and to replace some older, less efficient gas plants.

Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago

Say’s the people who make energy policy in Vermont apparently.

The last time we had this conversation, you insisted Vermont should get 98% of it’s energy from hydro.
I see you’re now down to 50%.

Norway has control of it’s hydro. They own and operate it. Canada controls most of the hydro Vermont has access to.

A diversified mix of energy sources makes sense. Maintaining control of our energy sources makes sense. Vermont could have purchased hydro on the Connecticut, but the last REPUBLICAN governor, Douglas, nixed it. Not wise.

Peter Shumlin appears to be doing a much better job than Douglas.

1 year 11 months ago

Richard,

“The last time we had this conversation, you insisted Vermont should get 98% of it’s energy from hydro.”

Please show me where I made that statement.

Canada, acting through GMP, has 70% of Vermont’s energy customers.

Vermont already has a mix of energy sources.

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

Willem,

Richard was off by 8%. In a June 6@ 4:54 comment you said: “That is a long way off from the unrealistic, starry-eyed, 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan goal of 90% of ALL annual energy consumed by Vermont from renewable sources by 2050 … It would be wise to buy most of that renewable energy from Hydro-Quebec at about 6 c/kWh under long-term contracts. ” http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2014/06/05/willem-post-vermonts-speed-program-costly/

1 year 11 months ago

John,

It appears you and Richard are attributing statements to me I did not make.

I stated: “It would be wise to buy most of that renewable energy from Hydro-Quebec at about 6 c/kWh under long-term contracts.”

Most COULD be 98%, COULD be 90%, but for sure it is greater than 50%.

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

Willem,

Now quoting what you said is “ttributing statements to me I did not make?”

Wow!

Jane Palmer
1 year 11 months ago

We have turned the corner…the election is now less than six months away…and the campaign has started. NOW Shumlin starts “tapping the brakes” Oh my goodness…polititians suck.

Mary Martin
1 year 11 months ago

Jane, I don’t care what his motives are. He is finally getting what we’ve been saying. No Pipeline.

Kathy Nelson
1 year 11 months ago

Mary, Jane Palmer is correct. Our ethically challenged governor will do anything to keep his finger on the button. After November he would be right back to his crony games. Keep your eye toward getting a new governor who WILL hear you.

1 year 11 months ago
I agree with the Governors position. We really need to be cautious and slow with these billion dollar plus investments. I question the proposition that these projects would save money. 1.1 Billion dollars for 1000 megawatts results in 15 Cents per kilowatt hour just for the transmission alone, then you have to add the electricity price. The result will be power costs somewhere above 22 cents per kilowatt-hour, based on today’s market price for forward contracts. Hydro Quebec is not offering any fixed price contracts and they are not regulated by FERC. I suspect Quebec residents are going to want… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago

David,

You 15 c/kWh calculation may be off by a decimal.

Transmission lines typically have capacity factors of about 70%. The line will last at least 50 years.

Annual energy transmission = 1,000,000 kW x 8760 x 0.7 = 6,132 million kWh/yr

If we assume the project gross revenue is a reasonable $110 million per year, then $110 million/6,132 million kWh = 0.017 $/kWh, or 1.7 c/kWh for transmission.

1 year 11 months ago

Does the “go slow” mode also apply to industrial wind and solar?

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

Peter,

A week ago, you wrote: “Here’s an early warning from the electrical industry to proceed with caution, lets hope that the pols in Montpelier are listening this time.” http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2014/06/08/special-report-vermont-smack-middle-crucial-electricity-supply-demand/#comments

When I asked you “Peter, what does ““We are all reserving our right to walk away from this,” Recchia said.” mean to you?,” you answered: “I have no idea of what Commissioner Recchia means.”

You then changed the subject to cost/benefit analysis.

Are you getting any clearer now that Shumlin is basically reiterating (and elaborating) Recchia’s point?

Or are we going to get another lecture on “Ready, fire, aim?”

1 year 11 months ago
John: I absolutely believe that the Governor should exercise caution when dealing with matters that impact the entire state for years into the future and cost billions of dollars. My comment from 6/8 you cited above supports this thinking. I have been for caution all along when it comes to energy policy, all apparently to your chagrin. One has to wonder why the Governor didn’t exercise more caution with the development of industrial wind and solar. When it comes to energy policy, it seems as if the Governor is a day late and a dollar short with his sermon preaching… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

Peter,

There’s little novel about Shumlin’s policies towards wind and solar. Vermont has been moving in that direction for decades, and governors from Dean on have supported it. The SPEED law, for example dates from 2005.

Just because you came to the party late, doesn’t mean the festivities only began when you walked in.

Obviously, 20 years isn’t cautious enough for you, but then 200 years wouldn’t be either. You don’t like wind or solar and you refuse to tell us how you would replace them. That’s not an energy policy, Peter. That’s a dodge.

1 year 11 months ago
John: The governor is now expressing his concern with energy costs that could affect the people of Vermont well into the future. This is a good stance for the Governor to take and a required stance for any responsible CEO, whether in the private or public sector. The problem is he should have taken this stance long ago before his energy policy began its aggressive no holds barred roll out of industrial wind and solar, which has tremendous cost and other negative implications. As previously stated, he’s a day late and a dollar short with his remarks. In his speech… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Peter: 1) “his energy policy … has tremendous cost and other negative implications.” As I pointed out to Willem Post, who regularly tells us how much SPEED is costing in extra rates, the VY contract which many blame the State for nixing, would have cost far more than 4000 times as much in its first year of excess charges than the SPEED program. The calculations are here: http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2014/06/05/biomass-plant-considered-vermont-yankee-site/#comments (my comment of June 14 @9:52). Please provide some documentation for the “tremendous cost” you refer to. 2) “Present industrial wind and solar technology is equivalent to the giant radios that sat… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago
John: Of course, I’m not going to respond to your usual lengthy litany of questions and homework assignments. All sorts of information are presented on the vtdigger on a regular basis addressing the high cost and technical issues of industrial wind and solar. Its been repeatedly presented by very knowledgeable people. We’ve all seen it, you’ve seen it, but you just don’t want to accept it. Even the folks at the Associated Press(AP) get the cost and technical issues. As the AP said: “…..solar power is much more expensive than conventional power, even before the enormous cost of a battery… Read more »
Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago
Peter, Unlike you and the AP, Elon Musk doesn’t chatter. He produces results and is transforming the world. He’s already produced two remarkable all electric vehicles. He has resupplied the International Space Station with a commercial rocket. He WILL mass produce state of the art batteries. Tesla and SolarCity have customers for those battery systems NOW. There is a market for these. In contrast, there is no U.S. market for new nukes. AP wrote: ““…..solar power is much more expensive than conventional power, even before the enormous cost of a battery backup.” AP apparently did not get the memo that… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Peter, “Of course, I’m not going to respond to your usual lengthy litany of questions and homework assignments.” Of course not, Peter. You can’t. You’re exactly right: “All sorts of information are presented on the vtdigger on a regular basis addressing the high cost and technical issues of industrial wind and solar.” And a very high percentage of it is demonstrably wrong, as I tried hard to point out. “We’ve all seen it, you’ve seen it, but you just don’t want to accept it.” I don’t accept it because, quite often, it’s false. When I know how, I show, in… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago
John: So what we’ve learned from your comments over the couple of weeks is quite amazing. Lets take a look at some of the major points you have made: 1. A cost benefit analysis of industrial wind and solar cannot be done because the issue is too complicated and too costly to complete. 2. The senators who called for such a study in S. 30 had no idea of what they were doing when proposing such an analysis. Anyone, beyond those in the Senate, who suggests such an analysis is simply ill informed on energy economics. 3. Even if such… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Peter: Some corrections to what you say “we’ve learned” (using your numbers): 1) “A cost benefit analysis of industrial wind and solar cannot be done because the issue is too complicated and too costly to complete.” What I’ve really said is that, in the detail you (and S 30 require), it SHOULD not be done because it would be too costly, entail too many complications and assumptions, and hence be no more accurate than the testimony and reports already taken. 2) “The senators who called for such a study in S. 30 had no idea of what they were doing… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago

John:

We all know that you’re against splitting atoms, so here we see you split hairs.

That’s alright, I admire your perseverance.

1 year 11 months ago
John, If SPEED RE is built out to 20% of 5,600, 000 MWh/yr = 1,120,000 MWh by 2017, and, at the end of 2013, SPEED solar was about 46,603 MWh and SPEED wind was about 218,106 MWh, and with these minute energy quantities SPEED paid $8,692,749 (DPS numbers) to mostly in-state and out-of state multi-millionaires with risk-free tax shelters, in excess of the grid prices at which that energy could have been bought, then, by the end of 2017, it will be about $60 million, mostly to these tax shelters. The $8.7 million of 2013 and $60 million of 2017… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

A fitting conclusion from a guy who professes to hate ad hominem attacks.

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Willem, I took one shot at this here: http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2014/06/05/biomass-plant-considered-vermont-yankee-site/#comment-124919, in a comment that I finally managed to get posted today. It fleshes out some of the details I’m relying on below. But given the context in this comment stream, your comment constitutes an excellent lesson about the kind of analysis that Peter and I have been discussing. First, let’s revise your statement to make all the assumptions explicit: “If SPEED RE is built out to 20%” AND IF total retail sales are equal to 5,600, 000 MWH/yr AND IF the proportion of solar to other forms of SPEED remains the… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago

John:

A play on words (splitting atoms- splitting hairs) followed by what was meant to be a compliment. You’re a tough competitor and I admire that. Even though we never seem to agree, I’m still hopeful.

Annette Smith
1 year 11 months ago
Sometimes I wonder if anyone else reads energy news. John Dillon did some in depth reporting about H-Q’s new dams but otherwise these transmission projects seem to be discussed in a vacuum. H-Q is building new dams, and the power is going to cost more. Earlier this year, a panel recommended shelving the destructive Romaine River dam: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Shelve+Romaine+hydro+project+panel+recommends/9570193/story.html Here is a documentary about the Romaine River dams http://www.seekingthecurrent.com/ There have been protests against its construction http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2012/10/two-consecutive-days-of-action-against-plan-nord/ A couple of excerpts from this article are below, and the whole article is worth reading. The power coming from new H-Q dams is… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago

Willem,
You are correct, I am off a decimal point. Thank you.

I still support the Governor’s position in that we should not be making long term investments in transmission without carefully considering the risks of stranding the costs.

I also will remain skeptical that buy HQ power will save Vermonter’s money since HQ is going to sell at market.

1 year 11 months ago
David, “I also will remain skeptical that buy(ing) HQ power will save Vermonter’s money since HQ is going to sell at market.” HQ energy may well be sold at market, but Vermont-generated RE energy will be sold at 2-3 times wholesale market, such as PV solar energy, for systems 1000 kW and up, being about 17 c/kWh (your calculation) and being 25.7 c/kWh, if subsidized by SPEED. In NE, wind energy is typically sold at 10 – 11 c/kWh per PPA, such as Georgia Mountain to Burlington Electric Department, but the RECs, worth about 5 to 6 c/kWh, provide additional… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

Willem,

“RE energy costs APPEAR lower than they really are, as a big chunk of the cost is “socialized”.'”

Name one energy source to which this statement does NOT apply.

Lance Hagen
1 year 11 months ago

John,

You are correct. All energy sources have been “socialized”. But for wind and PV solar we are NOT seeing much ‘bang for our “socialized” buck’. Considering the amount of subsidies $ they received their power output sucks.

(kWh/$)
Coal = 1,557
Natural Gas = 1,575
Nuclear =323
Wind = 37
Solar = 2.4

(And just so you don’t claim wind and solar are in their infancy. The $ were from 2010, but the power outputs (kWh) were from 2013, for which the so called “socialized” $ should have been producing power)

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Lance, Here we go again. You provide figures with no source and no documentation, so there is no way to see what is or is not included in the “subsidies” or even whether you’ve transcribed and calculated the figures correctly. The last time you did this, the figures came from the EIA, which was very explicit in enumerating all kinds of subsidies which were NOT included. But there’s no way of knowing that without a source and some documentation (a link), which is why I’ve repeatedly asked you to supply them. Your figures are quoted in kWh/$ which has the… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago

Lance,

Please provide URLs.

Below is URL with graphs that show the tremendous strides RE has made in the world during the past 20 years.

http://euanmearns.com/global-energy-trends-bp-statistical-review-2014/

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

Here’s another set of charts: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/01/06/clean-energy-economy-three-charts, which shows the strides made since 2008.

But if Willem’s point is there’s a long way to go, he’s absolutely right. No argument whatsoever there.

Lance Hagen
1 year 11 months ago
John, it is from the same source as the last time, being EIA. But you seem to take issue with it, so here it is again. http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data.cfm#summary Also, I am not arguing on behalf of subsidies for nuclear, fossil fuels, wind or solar. My point is that the subsidies for wind and solar are just NOT productive. Three years after receiving subsidies neither wind nor solar are producing much power. For wind with only 3.3% of the subsidy $ are going for research & development, which may take longer to bear fruit, 3 years should be sufficient to see… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Lance, Thanks for providing the link. You say that I “seem to take issue with it,” but that isn’t quite right: I take issue with the use you’re trying to make of it. You’ve repeatedly suggested that these ARE the subsidies provided to various energy sources, but the report is quite clear that this is NOT the case. Specifically, in the report’s own words: “this report … is limited to subsidies that are provided by the federal government, provide a financial benefit with an identifiable federal budget impact, and are specifically targeted at energy markets. … These criteria do exclude… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

I can’t pass this one up: “3 years should be sufficient to see fruit from the other subsidy $ poured into wind and solar.” If 3 years of subsidies were enough, nuclear power subsidies should have ended in the 1940s.

Lance Hagen
1 year 11 months ago
John, your reference was very informative, though I am little suspicious of the author motives when on the opening page the following is stated “Earth Track focuses on improving transparency for government subsidies that harm environmental quality and impede market access for cleaner technologies”. But what is pointed out, is what he believe is a short fall in the information provided by EIA concerning subsidies (which you refer to indirect subsidies). The only figures or numbers that are provided are in very general terms (like billions), but lack specifics or even ranges by generation source. All that being said, let… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Lance, The problem here is that you are either overlooking or willfully ignoring an obvious point: the EIA list of subsidies is not just a little incomplete; it’s VERY incomplete and INTENTIONALLY so. Most (not all) of the ways that is incomplete would add massive amounts (tens of billions of dollars) to older industries, but not new ones. I already quoted the report itself on the value ($13 billion) of the domestic manufacturing deduction. But look at the other exclusions specified, and ask yourself how many of them would add more than a pittance to the subsidies for wind or… Read more »
Lance Hagen
1 year 11 months ago
Another interest article about subsidies for wind and the lack of production. http://theenergycollective.com/geoffrey-styles/384041/expensive-subsidy-twisting-wind “If all US wind-generated electricity received the PTC at the rate offered in the current extenders bill, the annual cost would approach the oil and gas “subsidy”, at $3.9 B/yr based on last year’s actual US wind generation of 168 billion kWh, which equates to less than 3% of US oil and gas production in 2013.” So we subsidies wind at the same level as oil and gas and only get 3% of production of power! “As for arguments that wind power is not yet mature, other… Read more »
Lance Hagen
1 year 11 months ago
John, again you are barking up the wrong tree. Unless you can come up with either specific numbers or ranges for these unaccounted subsides for various energy sources, you have absolutely no idea how they compare to the subsidies used by EIA. Table ES-1, in your reference does NOT give specifics on the ‘scale of impact’ or how this ‘scale’ is distributed to the various energy sources. Also you keep trying to make the argument that wind is an immature technology to justify exorbitant subsidies. But it isn’t. Turbine technology has been around for many years. They may benefit from… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Lance, 1) We appear to disagree about which technologies deserve subsidies and why. I’ve made my case: subsidizing mature technologies helps keep newer technologies out of the marketplace by adding to their cost advantage. In addition, in this field, it actually provides a financial incentive to pollute, which in my view at least, is clearly counterproductive. From everything I read, wind power is essentially as cheap as or cheaper than other technologies in the marketplace, so I’m not particularly arguing FOR wind subsidies. I AM suggesting, however, that to remove wind subsidies and maintain those for other industries is a… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Lance, I woke up this morning with the realization that the subsidies that the EIA allocated to nuclear power are probably ALL for NEW nuclear plants. Since no nuke has come on line in about 20 years, that means that, using you methodology, there have been zero kilowatt hours generated thanks to these subsidies. The same may well apply to coal (for 2010). It is worth noting that wind and solar are the fastest growing energy resources in the US and have been for the last several years now. There are 6 nuclear plants under construction, but none of them… Read more »
Lance Hagen
1 year 10 months ago
John, The historical numbers do not support your early morning epiphany. According to the Taxpayers for Commonsense (who are advocating for ending subsidies for nuclear energy), from 1947 to 2015, nuclear energy will have received $1.10E+11 in subsidies. This amounts to an average $1.6 billion in subsidies per year. http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article/nuclear-subsidies-past-and-present According to Nuclear Energy Institute, from 1971 to 2013, 2.26E+13 kWh of power has been generated by nuclear. This is an average of 5.3E+11 kWh/yr. http://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/US-Nuclear-Power-Plants/US-Nuclear-Generating-Statistics Based on this historical data, the amount of power generated per subsidy $ is kWh/$ = 2.26E+13/1.10E+11 = 205 kWh/$ And the above number… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 10 months ago
Lance, Thanks for your reply. You obviously missed the point of my “epiphany.” The subsidies referred to in the EIA report you cite are for NEW nuclear power plants. Collectively, they have generated a total of zero kilowatts, since they’re still under construction (and it’s not even certain they’ll be completed). The power being generated by OLD plants, not subject to those particular subsidies, can’t change that, although you’re trying to “average it out.” And again, you’re conveniently ignoring the subsidies which have been excluded for the old plants as you do this. It’s interesting to note that Taxpayers for… Read more »
Lance Hagen
1 year 10 months ago

John,

You can keep bringing up points on minutia. Who cares about all those ‘caveats’?

The simple fact is wind and solar DO NOT produce significant power for every subsidy $ that is spent. And compared to over subsidized nuclear, wind and solar are much, much worse!

And as for Price-Anderson, quit trying to make this mole hill into a mountain. The Congressional Budget Office values this subsidy at only $0.60 M/yr/reactor. Based on the amount of subsidies in 2010 to nuclear, adding Price-Anderson raises the subsidy by 2.5%

John Greenberg
1 year 10 months ago
Lance, The caveats aren’t “minutia.” They add up to at least 10s, and far more likely hundreds of billions of dollars. We already established – because EIA values it – that just ONE of these “minutia” is worth up to a third of all the subsidies in their report (See above). I also noted that the pre-1947 subsidies for nuclear are AT LEAST $25 billion. I would note, by the way, that according to YOUR source, we’re already well over $1 trillion in nuclear subsidies, STILL OMITTING many. By any measure, that’s REAL money, and wind and solar aren’t even… Read more »
Moshe Braner
1 year 11 months ago
So NOW Shumlin is “cautious”? After pushing for the natural gas pipeline in Addison County? Regarding “new technology”, yes, with the recent advances in solar and wind power, and low-loss high-voltage DC transmission lines, it is all the more possible and necessary to balance intermittent solar and wind power with hydro power which can be ramped up and down at will. That is how Denmark, for example, absorbs so much wind power into their grid: they have transmission lines delivering hydro power from Sweden. Yes HQ will sell at market, but so will everybody else. In particular, the current low… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

It was Jim Douglas who nixed the dams.

Paul Lutz
1 year 11 months ago

The Gov. showing caution on this??? What. We MIGHT have a different energy profile in 25 years that MIGHT replace MAYBE 50% of our current usage; yet single payer healthcare… full steam ahead.

How corrupt is this guy?

Guy Page
1 year 11 months ago
In concept the governor is right: we don’t want to invest heavily in obsolescence. It’s his understanding of the details that worry me. Is he really ready to hold VT hostage to the possibility that solar/wind battery technology will become market affordable? To call that “uncertain” is understatement. By our own choices, Vermont is caught between unaffordable, unreliable intermittent renewable power, and reliable but volatile (in price) and high-carbon fossil fuel power. Getting more Canadian hydro – or at least getting well-paid to carry it and applying that money to energy costs – would be a low-carbon solution to the… Read more »
Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago

Regarding VY, we did not discard a bird in the hand. The bird is being slaughtered by it’s owner, Entergy, because it is NOT affordable.

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

Guy,

Here’s a different perspective on “the possibility that solar/wind battery technology will become market affordable? To call that “uncertain” is understatement.”

“Time to Swap Power Plants for Giant Batteries? Almost” http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/the-smarter-grid/time-to-swap-power-plants-for-giant-batteries

1 year 11 months ago
John, The 40 MW project is providing fast-response frequency regulation services to PJM Interconnection to stabilize the grid that serves more than 60 million people. This is an ancillary service (frequency regulation) usually provided by open cycle gas turbine-generators, OCGTs. GMP is using a $10.5 million synchronous condenser system to reduce the Lowell disturbances of the grid. It has nothing to do with storing wind energy generated during windy periods and using the energy later when there is no wind. Say 1000 MW of wind turbines generate 1000 MW x 10 hours x 0.40 capacity factor = 4000 MWh during… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago
Addition to my comment to John The 4000 MWh is at the wind turbines, after gathering from several wind turbine facilities and T&D losses, at least 8%, about 2000 – 160 = 1840 would arrive at the users’ meters. The other 2000 MWh, after gathering, conversion from AC to DC, and charging into the battery losses, at least 15%, about 2000 – 300 = 1700 MWh would arrive into the battery, and after discharging, conversion from DC to AC, and T&D losses, at least 15%, about 1700 – 225 = 1475 MWh would arrive at the users’ meters. ACTIVE battery… Read more »
Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago
To a certain, self described, “energy systems engineer” who failed at designing his own “energy efficient home” it may seem a PR fluff piece. It is worth noting this same individual is incapable of recognizing an article describing nuclear vaporware as a “fluff piece”. To consider wind energy in isolation is to fail to see the forest for the trees. A blizzard of numbers is worthless if the assumptions that generate them are false. It will not be necessary to store all the energy generated by a wind farm. The wind is free. The wind farm will be complimented by… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago
Richard, “It will not be necessary to store all the energy generated by a wind farm.” My example shows 50%. “The wind farm will be complimented by other renewable sources.” PV solar energy, without storage, is minimal or zero about 65% of the hours of the year, and wind energy in New England is minimal or zero about 30% of the hours of the year. Many of these hours overlap. That means almost ALL conventional generating units are required almost ALL hours of the year to provide energy when solar and wind energy are insufficient. It is called having “capacity… Read more »
Lance Hagen
1 year 11 months ago

Mr. Ratico,

So you can’t argue the merits of Mr. Post comments, so you resort to personal attack remarks. Why he either bothered to reply to your juvenile behavior, is a mystery to me.

Lance Hagen
1 year 11 months ago

should be

Why he even bothered

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Willem: Apparently, you need a lesson in reading comprehension. You write: “It has nothing to do with storing wind energy generated during windy periods and using the energy later when there is no wind.” The article I linked to states: “Earlier this month, for example, flow battery company EnerVault said it expects to sell a battery at a cost of $250 per kilowatt-hour that can work for four or more hours. That makes it a possible alternative to peaker plants or a way for wind and solar farms to supply the grid at peak hours when power is most expensive,… Read more »
Kathy Nelson
1 year 11 months ago

To Richard, “the wind is free”, the wind may be free but wind turbines are not. Your limited view of this issue is very apparent.
To Greenberg, Willem is right. There is no efficient energy storage that can be used by intermittent generators. Your link is to fluff and nonsense, read the comments to that article.

Lance Hagen
1 year 11 months ago

“Earlier this month, for example, flow battery company EnerVault said it expects to sell a battery at a cost of $250 per kilowatt-hour”

The key word in the above statement is “EXPECTED”. Many companies make ‘expected’ claims.

Also Mr. Post, in his analysis, used $250/kWh, but stated it was “very optimistic”. So what is your point?

1 year 11 months ago
John, This white paper surveys the storage filed. http://www.iec.ch/whitepaper/pdf/iecWP-energystorage-LR-en.pdf Here is another paper surveying the storage field. http://www.iitmicrogrid.net/microgrid/pdf/papers/battery/battery.pdf Here is an article describing how a flow battery is used to smooth wind energy variations in Japan. https://www.asme.org/engineering-topics/articles/renewable-energy/flow-batteries-augment-wind-power Some energy storage systems could store variable wind energy for much later use, such as storing some excess night-time wind energy and use it during the peak demand hours of the following afternoon/evening to avoid having to start up a peaking plant. If the economics of that approach was so compelling, utilities would have jumped on at least 10 years ago, if not… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago

“What we don’t know is what technology might do to the assumptions we make right now,” he said.

Assumptions not required. Many DO KNOW what technologies are available right now, and a grid is never required.
Is the governor playing the voter or has he seen the light? Either way it is a progressive opening.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bearden, US Army, PhD

website: http://www.cheniere.org

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNU3MLqyzPk

1 year 11 months ago

Richard Ratico:
“Certain “energy systems engineers” with little imagination, closed minds and financial support from fossil fuel and nuclear corporations have little incentive to recognize the need to modernize our energy delivery systems.”

The “same” can be alleged to you. You have an RE business that provides little incentive to fundamentally modernize our energy delivery systems.

Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago

If my small electrical contracting business is in any way successful at helping to keep quacks out of the conversation about our energy future, I will die a happy man.

Thanks for your comment. I’m flattered.

1 year 11 months ago

LOL

1 year 11 months ago

More quacks,

Capt Robert Salas, USAF. Thermonuclear warhead ICBM launch officer.

John Callahan, Division Chief of the Accidents and Investigations Branch of the FAA

SSGT James Penniston, senior security officer in charge of base security at RAF Woodbridge, UK. Held Top Secret U.S. and NATO security clearances

Hon. Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Former minister of National Defence

1 year 11 months ago

hundreds more government/military witness`

Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago

If it walks like a duck…..

Chuck Lacy
1 year 11 months ago

Could someone explain the pumped storage systems in New England and the potential to address the short term storage requirements inherent in solar/wind/nuclear systems? My understanding is that nuclear has some of the storage issues of wind and solar and that they have been addressed, in part, by pumped storage. Why aren’t these systems mentioned in the solar/wind debates? How does this fit together?

1 year 11 months ago
Chuck, In NE, the main problem is getting the variable wind energy into the grid, without upsetting the local high voltage grid. GMP tried it with the 63 MW Lowell project and all hell broke lose. Thus far, GMP has spent about $20 million for the synchronous condenser system (may not yet be in use) and grid upgrades. The 40 MW, $115 million, Seneca Project, located near Lowell, had to be cancelled, because an additional $86 million was needed for grid modifications. The ISO-NE rule is “the disturber pays”. Wind energy in New England is about 1.5 % of ANNUAL… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Chuck, Here’s probably more than you wanted to know about various kinds of storage: http://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/energy/assets/pdfs/SUFG/publications/SUFG%20Energy%20Storage%20Report.pdf. It discusses pumped storage and puts it in the context of the various needs on the grid, and the other kinds of storage currently available. Here’s another link suggesting that the cost of battery storage is coming down faster than anticipated: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/18/utility-scale-battery-storage-costs-dropping/ Neither it nor the link I provided earlier purport to suggest that the costs are market ready yet, so they can be attacked, as they have been, as “vaporware.” Time will tell (and if they’re right, that time won’t be very long). I’m… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago

John,

The last URL did not work

John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago
Howard Shaffer
1 year 11 months ago
Thank you Mr. Greenberg for your description of how the grid manages generation. With no battery equivalent, the grid must be able to handle the instantaneous loss of the largest generation source, as you describe. Many solar panels, and many wind turbines, make a large source. So if the sun goes behind clouds over a large area, or the wind dies down over a large area, that is a loss of the source. Until there are batteries or storage in place, the deployment of wind and solar power will be limited. The “smart grid” can help a lot, by being… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago
Howard, “A policy question is “What do we do while the number of solar panels and wind turbines are being deployed, and how long will it take?” Because Germany lacks grid adequacy to deal with increasing variable RE generation during an increasing number of hours of the year, Germany’s answer has been, is, and will be, to increasingly use foreign grids to balance its variable RE energy, but ends up selling this excess energy at near zero prices after subsidizing it at about 20 eurocent/kWh. RE aficionados crowing about Germany exporting energy sounds rather hollow to me, especially when increased… Read more »
Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago

Willem,

Why has Germany increased it’s use of coal?

1 year 11 months ago

Richard,

Mainly a cost issue.

By end 2022, if all goes according to plan, Germany will have shut down all its near-CO2-free nuclear plants.

Germany has reduced its use of high-cost, low-CO2 gas and increased its use of low-cost, high-CO2 domestic coal, and even imports coal from the US.

The net effect is increased annual CO2 emissions, even with increased RE generation. Also, much of Germany’s RE is from biomass and its CO2 and other polluting emissions are about a bad as coal.

Richard Ratico
1 year 11 months ago
Willem, In other words, is it correct to say Germany’s increased use of coal has nothing to do with it’s build out of RE and everything to do with it’s decision to phase out it’s nukes? Is it also correct to say, without RE, Germany’s increased use of coal would have to be much greater? The wisdom of the nuke decision is hotly debated, of course. One can only hope the owners of the more than 400 nuclear power reactors worldwide are exercising MUCH greater attention to safety than private industry typically does. We can argue over the safety record… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

Howard,
Thanks for the correction about pumped power plants in New England. I looked at a Wikipedia list and then managed to mis-locate the other 2 outside of New England. My bad.

1 year 11 months ago
John, “Yet you hate SPEED and love the VY contract.” My analysis of SPEED goes out to 2017. Surely one can make reasonable, conservative assumptions for the years 2015, 2016, 2017, as I have done, to come up with the $60 million in excess of grid prices for these three years. Remember, we have 3.5 years of accurate SPEED performance data for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, from the DPS website, to extrapolate from. Any engineer would love to have 3.5 years of good data and extrapolate another 3 years. During these 3.5 years SPEED PV solar has become… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Willem, The VY contract was for $61/MWH for the year beginning on March 21, 2012 with the escalator I’ve described. Because ISO data is by the month, I’ve “rounded” that to April 1 to March 31. During that period, ISO’s average VT price was $48.60 per MW. So the difference was $61 -48.60 = $12.40 per MWH. I didn’t figure in the CF @ 90% because that figure in general, comes from cycles which are closer to 100% for the 18 months of operation plus the planned outage, so if you wanted to figure in outages, you’d have to match… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago
John, Thank you for your response. Based on my assumptions of 0.90 CF and 1 c/kWh difference, my number is about $9 million. Based on your assumptions of 1.00 CF and 1.24 c/kWh difference, your number is about a little less than $12.5 million. “Given how often you like to write about this Willem, you really ought to read it.” You originally assumed I had not read it, whereas I had, and I responded David Hallquist did not think much of the PSB approach. HAD HE USED it, his number would not have been 17 c/kWh, but closer to 25.7… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago
Willem, You say: “You originally assumed I had not read it, whereas I had ….” If that is the case, then why have you written (more than once): “based on “avoided cost-based prices,” whatever that means”? http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2014/06/05/willem-post-vermonts-speed-program-costly/#comments (in the body of your commentary) I would have no difficulty with your STATING what the Board means and why you disagree with that. To my knowledge, at least in VT Digger comments, you’ve never done so. Your further comment, however, makes this even more open to question:” I think , and likely David and others do too, that the PSB has been… Read more »
1 year 11 months ago
John, I think the “independent expert” should talk with David Hallquist, another expert in the energy business who intimately knows his costs, to determine why there is such a big difference; 25.7 c/kWh and 17 c/kWh. If the difference was 1 or 2 cent, fine, but 25.7/17 = 51%? Either one or the other resides on a different planet. The up to 2.2 MW, SPEED solar projects DO attract multi-millionaires with tax shelters from all over the US, including Vermont and other Northeast states, as is revealed by DPS data. Their advisors smell a good deal and flock to it.… Read more »
John Greenberg
1 year 11 months ago

“Any evidence for it?”

Apparently not.

Rich Cowan
1 year 11 months ago

Someone posted some information that solar power inverters needed to be replaced every 8 to 10 years. That is nonsense… the industry has been putting out inverters with a warranty of 25 years for several years now, to match the warranty of solar panels. Anything written about the economics of solar in 2010 is no longer relevant, due to massive advances in this technology!

1 year 10 months ago

Rich,

10 years or more for central inverters.

http://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2013/10/reliable-inverters-power-best-solar-installations/

20 years or more for micro inverters.

http://energyinformative.org/are-solar-micro-inverters-better-than-central-inverters/

If you have more recent and better data, please let me know.

John Greenberg
1 year 10 months ago

Willem,

Why do you reduce the number to “10 years of more” when the article you cite says: “accounting for an inverter replacement around year 12 to 15 has satisfied investors.”

Similarly, your second source says: “Micro-inverters typically come with a warranty of 20-25 years – 10-15 years longer than central inverters.”

1 year 10 months ago

John,

1) The accounting referred to has to do with spreadsheets presented to investors who are financing projects. It has nothing to do with manufacturer’s WARRANTEES.

2) The article stated 10 – 15 years longer implies central inverters have 10 year warrantees.

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