Local renewable industry poised to make ‘Vermont energy strong’

For immediate release
Feb. 9, 2012

Gabrielle Stebbins
Phone: 802 595 5373
Email: [email protected]

Montpelier, Vermont – Vermont’s local renewable energy industry— made up of diverse manufacturers, construction contractors, installers, developers, and suppliers— announced today the industry is equipped to help make “Vermont energy strong” in the 21st Century.

The industry, which ranges from local fabricators assembling electrical boards and contractors that specialize in hot water, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass heating installations to regional and international manufacturers of innovative renewable energy technologies, held a press conference on pending policy issues today in Montpelier.

“The benefits of a strong renewable industry flow throughout the state by creating local jobs, producing energy locally, and providing energy security,” said Gabrielle Stebbins, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont (REV), the state trade association representing more than 300 renewables and efficiency businesses in the state. “Growing our own renewable energy in-state is in keeping with Vermonters’ desire for self reliance, a clean energy future that leaves a better legacy for our children, and keeping our dollars local.”

“The industry is ready, willing, and able to both kick-start Vermont’s economy and make‘Vermont energy strong’ in the 21st Century,” said REV Chair, Martha Staskus. “We are extremely grateful for the Governor’s strong support for assuring Vermont doesn’t miss out on the ‘energy revolution’ and for his commitment to expand Vermont’s innovative Standard Offer program in his recent State of the State address. The many diverse businesses and workers of our industry stand with him and we’re ready to get to work.”

The industry highlighted three policies being considered by the legislature and supported by Governor Shumlin critical to the growth of the industry:

  1. Expanding Vermont’s Standard Offer program, which provides predictability to local, distributed renewable energy generation. The group is calling for the program to be expanded beyond its initial 50MW, yielding new jobs, producing local clean energy, and bringing private financial support to local industry. A strong Standard Offer is the most effective method for meeting strong renewable portfolio goals.
  2. Funding Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF), which is expected to run out of money by mid-year. A 2011 report by Kavet, Rockler & Associates, LLC found that every $1 invested by the CEDF resulted in $4 in private capital investment. Since 2006 alone, it has leveraged grants, tax credits, and loans into $110 million in privately funded project expenditures. The successes of this program are threatened without a new revenue source and the industry is advocating for sustainable funding for this effective economic development tool. Proposals in both the House and Senate Natural Resource Committees, spearheaded by Chair Tony Klein and Rep. Allison Clarkson, and Chair Lyons and Senator Clarkson, would tax nuclear storage, a past-funding source for the CEDF.
  3. Assuring quick passage of technical corrections to Vermont’s successful net metering program, which makes minor technical changes to 2011’s Act 47. Net metering in Vermont has allowed homes, businesses, schools, farms, and non-profits to harness their own energy. Act 47 improved this successful program and H.475, which makes minor changes to that law, passed the house in late January. This bill should be fast-tracked in the Senate and signed by the Governor by Town Meeting Day.

“When we’re manufacturing or installing solar locally, we’ve activated an entire supply  chain of work throughout the state. This includes electrical board fabrication in Bristol and Springfield, metal workers from Rutland County and Lyndon, and electricians and contractors from Williston. The renewable energy industry in this state is vast and it is  growing. With the right policies today, we can lead a more economic and energy secure future for this state,” said Andrew Savage, a member of AllEarth Renewables’ management team.

“The stable funding of the CEDF helps support a vibrant, cost-effective solar hot water, solar, and wind energy industry in this state. It’s leveraging dollars to give homeowners and businesses the investment in energy independence and creating good local installation and manufacturing jobs,” said Tom Hughes, CEO of Sunward Systems.

Chad Farrell, founder of Encore Redevelopment, added “We have built a business here in Vermont around the opportunities associated with an energy transition and Vermont’s early leadership in this burgeoning marketplace. A robust continuation of the Standard Offer program is vital for Vermont to keep pace with our neighbors in the development of additional sources of clean, distributed renewable energy generation to support our economy and in order to continue to provide jobs, tax revenue and energy security for our state.”

“By supporting in-state renewable energy, Vermont gets jobs, economic development and intellectual capital. Northern Power directly employs more than 100 people. We sell in Vermont and export to the world. We buy from more than 350 Vermont companies. They supply steel, financial services, electrical parts, engineering services, metal fabrication and machining, welding supplies, crane services, marketing and media, legal, lodging and meeting space – a wide range of Vermont businesses stand behind us every day,” added James Jennings, global director of repower business at Northern Power Systems.

“Although having had discussions with New York and New Hampshire, I was drawn to choose Rutland as the location for the WEbiomass Wood Pellet Boiler manufacturing facility, in large part due to the forward-thinking renewable policies of Vermont and the direct assistance of the Department of Commerce & Economic Development. The opportunities for job creation via a sustainable approach to the use of our forest resources for heating Vermonters homes, schools and other businesses are impressive: According to a Biomass Energy Resource Center study, if Vermont were to convert only 18.5% of its homes and businesses from heating oil to locally produced biomass fuels used in modern, efficiency boilers, it could create about 7,000 stable local energy jobs.,” says George Robbins, President of WEbiomass Inc.

In addition to traditional renewable energy companies and member-businesses of  Renewable Energy Vermont, the industry representatives emphasized how broad and diverse Vermont’s renewable energy industry is. Companies like Demag Cranes, J.A. Morrissey Inc, Engineers Construction Inc. (ECI), Grennon’s Solder Works, Image-Tek, Northeast Prevision, Rennline, S.D. Ireland Concrete are among the many hundreds of businesses engaged in work and creating or sustaining jobs as a result of a strong local renewable energy economy.

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  • NET job creation by renewables is a myth. Whereas subsidies create jobs in renewables sectors, a larger number of jobs (and tax revenue) in lost in other sectors due to the inefficient use of resources. See below VT-DPS study.
    There are numerous other studies that prove the same. Expanding the heavily-subsidized SPEED program would make bad energy policy worse.
    Under the Vermont SPEED program it will take about $230 million of scarce funds to build 50 MW of expensive renewables that produce just a little of variable, intermittent and expensive power that will make Vermont less efficient at exactly the time it needs to become more efficient.  
    The VT-DPS evaluated the program in 2009 and issued a white paper which stated about 35% of the $228.4 million would be supplied by Vermont sources, the rest, mostly equipment by non-Vermont sources, such as wind turbines from Denmark and Spain, PV panels from China, inverters from Germany
    There would be spike of job creation during the 1-3 year construction stage (good for vendors) which would flatten to a permanent net gain of 13 full-time jobs (jobs are lost in other sectors) during the operation and maintenance stage. 
    The report accurately predicted the SPEED program was a folly, but it was shunted aside and now Reps. Cheney and Klein want to have their SPEED
    program expanded to make a bad situation worse.
    The Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) is a slush fund for the renewables oligarchy to get subsidies and low-cost loans for projects that produce energy at 3-5 times the cost of grid prices. These projects fatten the bottom lines of some companies at the expense of higher electric rates for already-strapped households and businesses.
    The CEDF diverts funds from projects that are profitable WITHOUT subsidies.
    Reps. Klein, Clarkson and Lyons propose to tax spent-fuel storage (are there any other states taxing spent-fuel storage, or is this just their vendetta against VY?), but at the same time vote against Vermont Yankee that produces about 4,800 GWh/yr of base-loaded, steady, 24/7/365, low-cost, near-zero-CO2 energy; it is akin to shooting oneself in the foot.
    Vermont needs all the help it can get to recover from the Great Recession and Irene, which will likely last for some years. Enhancing the SPEED program and vendettas against efficient, low-cost producers of energy is economically counter-productive.

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