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.

If you read us, please support us.

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

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer.

We moderate every comment. Please go to our FAQ for the full policy.

Privacy policy
Andrew Stein

Recent Stories

  • Avram Patt

    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 probably done a better job of separating fact from fiction.

    • 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

        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.

        • 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

    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.

  • Carl Werth

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

  • Coleman Dunnar

    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 public will final catch on to the fact his pocket is being picked.
    Sen. Hartwell and Benning it took courage to introduce S. 30, the type of courage we need in Montpelier. You have my respect and support.

  • Craig Kneeland

    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

      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 2,500-foot rule, which was arrived at by means of a political compromise whereas the science at the time suggested that 2,000 feet would have been a better standard. Hub Vogelmann, the UVM botanist who raised the alarm over acid rain, also argued in one document that, the farther north one went, the ecosystem effects of development were felt at lower altitudes; and

      — I noticed your claim, “Our Senate does not need to respond to the vocal minority that offers no reasonable alternative to the global warming crisis.” Frankly, I do not believe the renewable energy entrepreneurs and their supporters offer much of a genuine alternative to global warming. To me, they are simply switching one source of power generation for another. They are not suggesting replacing our culture of consumption with a new culture that is significantly less destructive of the earth.

      Having been involved in Vermont public policy issues for over forty years, I conclude that Vermont just ain’t that “green” despite the protestations of business lobbies, the claims of so-called environmental groups and the marketing of Vermont Life. It may be better than most, but I don’t take much comfort in such relativism. (I still support S. 30, despite its shortcomings. Maybe someone in the Senate will strengthen the bill instead of offering some fig leaf alternative that kills it.)

    • 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.

    • 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 to RE is very small.

  • Chuck Kletecka

    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.

    • 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

        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.

        • 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

          “there is no added PROFIT in efficiency.”


          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

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

          • John Greenberg

            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 plan and can concomitantly reduce their costs, they neither make nor lose money on the resulting sales decline. (They WOULD lose money if the sales decline were unplanned, and if costs could not be lowered along with the demand for power).

            In sum, the utilities have no incentive to promote efficiency, but, as noted in my previous comment, other businesses do. At the same time, utilities have no incentive to oppose efficiency, since their profits do not depend directly on sales.

    • Steve Wright

      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 at their respective sources:
      transportation, home heating, agriculture and commercial/industrial operations. We don’t need more monuments to human frailty, more monuments that exacerbate the conditions brought to us by irreversible climate change.

  • Chuck Nichols

    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

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

  • Candy Moot

    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.

    • 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.

  • 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 who is boss in Vermont.

    In addition, recent studies of turbine useful lives (Denmark, UK) and annual production (Maine ridge lines) prove them to be falling significantly short of vendor-provided lives and production. This means their energy cost is much higher than the GMP “predicted” 10 c/kWh; grid prices are about 5.5 c/kWh.

    S-30 merely requires towns to have more say regarding wind turbines and requires Act 250 to be complied with, instead of some toothless special provision enacted just for wind turbines on ridge lines, which gave the PSB a free hand to do whatever, causing a hue and cry all over Vermont. That special provision was a high-order malfeasance by the legislature; should never have existed.

    The costs of Vermont’s SPEED RE program, on auto-pilot, is about to balloon out of control in an attempt to inefficiently reach 2017 RE goals. Here are some numbers of the payments in excess of grid prices to be rolled into already-struggling household and business electric rates.

    PROJECTS 2.2 MW or less; estimated 333,270,000 kWh/yr in 2017

    Excess costs = (avg annual cost of SPEED RE – avg annual grid price) x annual SPEED RE production were:

    2010, $506,871
    2011, $2,204,334
    2012, $3,423,473

    The projected costs to attain RE goals are:

    2013, $5,862,804
    2014, $10,036,478
    2015, $17,175,205
    2016, $29,381,491
    2017, $50,246,975

    PROJECTS greater than 2.2 MW; estimated 777,630,000 kWh/yr in 2017

    The excess costs of the SPEED projects greater than 2.2 MW, such as Sheffield, Lowell, etc., that will supply an estimated total of 777,630,000 kWh/yr by 2017 have not been determined, as data for analysis, likely known to some state people, is not public. These costs are NOT included in the above numbers.

    To these numbers should be added the increasing budget of Efficiency Vermont, about $55 million in 2017; 2/3rds of its budget goes for its 175-person staff; salaries+benefits, and office, meeting, travel expenses, etc., the rest to subsidize projects; grossly inefficient no matter what the fancy annual reports proclaim.

    Those three items will add significantly to household and business electric costs, making Vermont’s economy less efficient at exactly the time it must be more efficient to absorb the loss of federal funds for at least the next 10 years, etc. Not a pretty picture looking forward; Vermonters are finally catching on.

  • 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. “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, just wow. I’m from Massachusetts, and I have never seen anything this blatant. Quiet, unobtrusive solar panels were NOT the motivating factor behind this bill. I am not sure why an industry leader has stuck his neck out like this when there was no need — rather like Bernie Sanders did recently. You wonder who is strong-arming them, in turn, behind the scenes.

    Just as an aside: There seems to be a trend where individuals in whom one’s emotional investment is zero, and is projected to remain at zero, feel inclined to declare that they are “sad,” “disappointed,” or “embarrassed” by one’s opinions: as if anyone cared.

    Ellin Anderson
    Browington, VT

  • Jim Christiansen

    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

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

  • MJ Farmer

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

  • Paul Donovan

    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 “sacred” mountain tops and big, bad energy corporations. And although I believe Vermont Yankee should be closed (because it’s simpy falling apart), small-scale nuclear must also play a role. It’s not a pretty picture but we have to face facts. We are out of time.

    • 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 cause excessive increases in electric rates.

      Whereas energy efficiency would be much less costly approach, it does not nearly have the potential for greedy subsidy-grabbing.

      If Vermont had really been a leader a few years ago, and had implemented, and enforced, a “net-zero energy” or “energy-surplus” code for buildings, it would now have hundreds or may be even thousands of energy efficient buildings that would use about 10 – 15 % of the energy for heating, cooling and electricity per square foot per year of standard buildings, if built to the more than 30-year old Passivhaus standard developed in Germany.

      In Vermont, doing RE first and EE later is like pouring water into a leaking bucket; it is an irrational waste of money, which is not growing on trees these days.

      EE is the low-hanging fruit, has not scratched the surface, is by far the best approach, because it provides the quickest and biggest “bang for the buck”, and

      – it is invisible
      – it does not make noise
      – it does not destroy pristine ridge lines/upset mountain water runoffs
      – it would reduce CO2, NOx, SOx and particulates more effectively than renewables
      – it would not require expensive, highly-visible build-outs of transmission systems
      – it would slow electric rate increases
      – it would slow fuel cost increases
      – it would not lower property values
      – it would not harm people’s health
      – it would slow depletion of fuel resources
      – it would create 3 times the jobs and reduce 3-5 times the Btus and CO2 per invested dollar than renewables
      – all the technologies are fully developed
      – it would end the subsidizing of renewables tax-shelters benefitting mostly for the top 1% at the expense of the other 99%
      – it would be more democratic/equitable
      – it would do all this without public resistance and controversy.

      • Rob Macgregor

        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 ring hollow after a while. So to be more accurate, your statement “This is about the PEOPLE taking back Vermont from the subsidy-coddled, regulation-favored special interests. ” really should read ” This is about 19% of Vermonters taking back Vermont from a 66% majority in favor of utility scale wind development.”

        • 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 would need less of a generating capacity, MW, to serve demand, AND would use less fuel for energy generation, AND would emit less CO2, AND it would be mostly invisible, unlike the forever-damage of IWTs on ridge lines.

          The use of NG in 60%-efficient CCGTs emits about 1/3 the CO2/kWh of a coal-fired power plant, AND the coal plant has OTHER emissions which NG does not have.

          NG is MUCH cleaner than coal, AND kills fewer people, according to the World Health Organization.

          Energy Source Mortality Rates; Deaths/yr/TWh

          Coal – world average, 161
          Coal – China, 278
          Coal – USA, 15
          Oil – 36
          Natural Gas – 4
          Biofuel/Biomass – 12
          Peat – 12
          Solar/rooftop – 0.44-0.83
          Wind – 0.15
          Hydro – world, 0.10
          Hydro – world*, 1.4
          Nuclear – 0.04

          * Includes the 170,000 deaths from the failure of the Banquao Reservoir Dam in China in 1975

          ” a 66% majority in favor of utility scale wind development.” Before Lowell, that was about 80%.

          The real problem is people were not aware then about the Lowell environmental and visual impact and many of them are STILL not aware, which is unfortunate, because EE would actually decrease their energy bills, whereas Lowell will increase them.

          A lack of good information is befuddling people’s thinking and actions.

  • craig davids

    Paul, You hold the majority opinion in VT.

    • Steve Wright

      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 PSB has been a colossal failure. All one has to do is look at the pictures of Sheffield, Lowell and GA Mountain.

      I coordinated the Town of Craftsbury’s Intervenor case with regard to the Lowell Mountains project. The PSB effectively ignored us along with the incorporated criteria of Act 250.

      For seven years I sat on the State Environmental Board. I know what Act 250 can and can’t do. Why does the enviro/renewable industry cabal fight the use of Act 250? Because it can be an effective decision-making tool for protecting our landscape and “adapting” to irreversible climate change.

  • 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 in these tales so they’re not repeated any more.

    On the other hand, we have never heard much about: the cost of wind and solar being significantly higher than existing energy generation sources; or the millions in tax payer subsidies required; or the fact that the tops would be blown off of mountains; or our highways lined with solar panels; or the noise impact of wind turbines ; or the health effects; or the negative impact on property values; or the impact on wild life and the list goes on and on. These are what Al Gore would call inconvenient truths.

    What we now hear is that a message must be sent to the rest of the nation on Vermont’s fidelity to the gods of wind and solar or else the world will come to an end faster than a Mayan chief can count to ten. I wonder, will this message also be sent to the Chinese coal fired power plant builders?

    As all else has failed, we’re now seeing an avalanche of wind and solar industry ads tells us about all the jobs that will be created. Really, whenever I drive by solar farms, I never see anyone working. I guess those construction jobs last a few weeks, the communities are then left with a 25 year eye sores and the developers go on their merry way collecting tax payer subsidized life time annuities.

    John Campbell, tell Jeffery Wolfe that your integrity is more important that his support. The voters of Vermont will think much more highly of you if you do so.

    • 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


      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, Japan, etc. What do you know that all of these governments and businesses are missing?

      You also write: “On the other hand, we have never heard much about: the cost of wind and solar being significantly higher than existing energy generation sources; or the millions in tax payer subsidies required ….” Never heard?
      Really? If YOU haven’t heard, that suggests only that you haven’t been listening. These facts have been clear since at least the time that Jimmy Carter was president.

      As long as you’re listening now — at least I hope so — allow me to point out that the costs of wind and solar are in dramatic secular decline, while those of nuclear, for example are in equally dramatic assent.

      And as to subsidies, those for renewables don’t come close to equaling those of all other energy sources in the US over time. (They did come within shooting distance for one year thanks to Obama’s stimulus plan). 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. Nuclear power would cease to exist entirely if the Price-Anderson Act were repealed and plants had to fully cover their own insurance risks. New nuclear plants can be built only with vast loan guarantees from the federal government, since capital markets long ago decided that the risk of investment exceeds the return. And even with those loan guarantees (and huge advance charges to local ratepayers under “construction work in progress” laws), it’s unclear whether any of the current projects will ever produce power.

  • Nancy Fried

    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

  • 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 to this thread.

    Ellin Anderson
    Brownington, VT

  • Chuck Kletecka

    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 that’s our capitalist system at work. Like it or not, financial incentives encourage moneyed folks and companies to invest their billions to build these things. I’d love it if we had the social capacity to build things as a public work but you’re living in dreamland if you think that’s going to happen anytime soon. We can fight those battles later, but first we need to address the emergency with what ever tools we’ve got at hand.

    • 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 years claimed by vendors (unsupportable by field data), which further raises the energy cost by 25/17.5 = 42%.

      • Avram Patt

        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 part of the total project cost that goes into the energy cost. Others include: the towers themselves, road construction and site preparation, grid interconnection & underground cabling, property & other taxes, routine maintenance, personnel and contractor costs, monitoring and control technology, regulatory, and everything else involved in building the project to begin with, and then operating it. So if the turbines are replaced more frequently, it does not have an energy cost impact of 42%. You did some simple arithmetic, but based on the wrong assumptions.

        • 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 “replace our carbon-based energy economy with renewable energy.” The reality is that IWTs and other utility scale renewables rely 100% on a well-oiled, fossil fuel economy and therefore cannot replace it, or come close to supplying Vermont with 90% of its electricity needs in perpetuity.

        • Lance Hagen

          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 17.5 years versus the original 25 years, than Mr. Post’s method of using the ratio of 25/17.5 x $/KWh is correct.

          The problem is that the conditions the developer used to determine his $/KWh in his ’25 year lifetime’ are unknown to us. We also do not know if these conditions match the conditions that realized in the 17.5 year lifetime information.

          • 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.

        • 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 and unscheduled outages are likely to occur more often. Such outages will be more frequent as the units age, adversely affecting CFs. If for a serious replacement a 450-ft tall crane is required, it would likely not be used in winter, meaning one or more 3 MW units would be idle for some months.

          The shorter lives and lesser CFs will likely add up to much higher levelized energy costs than 10c/kWh. If the REC of 5.5c/kWh is subtracted, the difference will be much greater than the originally envisioned 4.5c/kWh; present grid prices of about 5 -5.5c/kWh.

          Regarding Denmark:
          The average life of a turbine in Denmark is about 12 years. It usually gets replaced with a longer-lasting, more efficient, greater capacity unit on a new foundation. Some of the infrastructure can be used, some will need upgrading, some cannot be used.

          Problem is, the newer units are much bigger, loom more over little towns, make more infrasound, and disturb the nearby natives. Denmark has decided to build almost all of its wind turbines offshore and, as a sea-going nation, has built up the required infrastructures to serve the future international IWT market; Siemens is neck and neck with Vestas.

          • 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 likely not occur in one year, but over a period of 4-5 years, for budgeting reasons, which would need to be reflected in the spreadsheets.

            Things do get complicated.

          • John Greenberg


            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


      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

    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


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

      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.

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

  • 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 them at risk of being ruined, especially in Vermont, and especially since influential lackeys do not want to see these rampaging businesses impeded in their destruction of the state’s natural beauty, even if that “interference” is due to legislative action that reflects the wishes of the affected communities.

  • “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 but “renewable.”

    Feeding the fossil fuel dependent grid with noisy, inverted, intermittent electricity really is pointless as long as we continue to waste so much electricity for extraneous, power-hungry applications; specifically heating coils. It’s going to be a real shame when our frantic efforts to tack smart meters, compact fluorescents, wind turbines, and solar panels onto the already stressed grid completely backfires. The few with foresight to build micro-grids that store energy and avoid dumbing DC down to AC will be well-positioned, if they are not overrun by the hordes of iPad owners who just need to juice up.

    While there are certainly some who truly are anti-renewable energy or deny the science of climate change based on financial interests, in Vermont they are mostly straw men. Real renewable energy is appropriate technology that uses electricity as a last resort and favors the sun, wind and water cycle to provide us with carbon sequestration, actual food, enough heat, clean air, and a refreshing place to cool off when the scourge is fully upon us.

  • Annette Smith

    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 ridgeline wind development do not live in communities where there are wind projects or proposals. Yes, in Your Backyard (YIYBY) is their theme:

    Hundreds of Vermonters signed onto a letter in 24 hours supporting S.30

  • Stan Shapiro

    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.

    • 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

    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.

  • 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 would be happy to add their name to the list if its keeps the Governor happy and the regulators out of their hair for a while.

    Now, what about Pomerleau Real Estate, a company that Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) labeled as a non-renewable company, in a press release issued last week in citing businesses opposed to S.30. Well guess what, Pomerleau Real Estate is the developer of perhaps one of the largest and most conspicuous solar farms in Vermont. You have all probably driven by it on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh.

    Good old Green Mountain Power, oh yes, I spoke directly to Josh Castonguay, a GMP executive, last April in an effort to learn what making Rutland the Solar Capital and building wind turbines entailed.

    I thought that Mr. Castonguay was quite frank in his comments to me and I reported them to the Department of Public Service in writing. For instance, he said: 1. Air quality would not change because of wind turbines or solar panels being built in Vermont; 2. Electric rates would not go down; 3. He had no problem with blowing the tops off of mountains (His exact words); 4. Job creation tied to turbine and wind construction would be temporary; 5. He could not define the number or type of long term jobs that would be created and 6. He stated that solar panels could be built up and down Vermont’s roadways.

    On April 27, 2012, GMP’s Dorothy Schnure reported to Mary Morris and Susan Parch at the DPS, that Josh Castonguay had been spoken to me, and my concern was aesthetics, which was a pretty dramatic understatement of my concerns. But is kept the regulators off their back for that day.

    So based on my experience with GMP, I don’t place much credence in their opposition to S.30.

    Oh, one other thing, I understand that Vermont has about 21,000 operating businesses, so the 150 opposing S.30 that REV was able to recruit is less that 1% of the total. Our legislators should keep this in mind when faced with threats from the likes of Jeffery Wolfe.

  • 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.

    • 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 affecting the earth’s climate. And, despite our best efforts to conserve energy, diminishing reserves of the fossil fuels that generate most of our electricity and enable nearly all of our transportation will curb our emissions no matter what. Just as we are now questioning the value of figures like Gross Domestic Product (instead looking to calculations like Gross National Happiness), we must reconsider whether parts per million of CO2 paints a complete picture of our future.”

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

  • Kevin Jones

    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 many of them support community scale renewable energy projects and the long-term economic benefits that these projects provide. These same citizens have a legitimate right to be concerned about development on the ridgelines, whether it is road building and blasting for wind turbines or some other development. It is not a conspiracy to want your town’s plan to be given appropriate consideration even when it comes to renewable electric facilities. It is not like slowing wind development on our ridgelines is going create a local reliability issue or create a spike in greenhouse gas emissions. There are some reasonable facts on the side of those that argue that investing in energy efficiency (including insulating our homes), focusing on transportation efficiency, and providing more incentives for community scale renewable energy facilities is a softer, more earth friendly path for Vermont.

    While I am one that supports stronger requirements and growing financial support for renewable energy (sorry Willem) at both the state and federal levels, I also believe that a race to line our mountains with industrial scale wind is not in the long-term interest of our local environment or our communities. I also think an objective review of the facts might actually suggest that Vermont’s renewable energy policy is tilted toward the large well-connected renewable energy developers and not adequately protecting our environment or communities. Here are three examples that Vermonters, including leaders of our statewide environmental organizations, should be concerned about. First, Vermont’s SPEED and Standard Offer programs lead our utilities into paying the higher prices for renewable energy but then unlike all of our neighboring states allow the utilities to sell the renewable energy credits from these projects into out of state programs to partially reduce rates. This means that Vermonters pay a premium for this energy but then it is exported out of state and Vermont customers instead purchase fossil and nuclear-fueled electricity. It is a renewable energy shell game unlike what exists in any other state and it increases Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions. We need to end this charade and enact a real renewable portfolio standard. Second for our standard offer program (aka feed in tariff), which includes the largest solar projects built in the state, we paid a high fixed price to the first applicants rather than auctioning off the available contract capacity to the most cost effective renewable project. This put more money in the pocket of the developer but at a cost to the consumer and then to top it off the green electricity is being sold out of state and replaced with more polluting sources just like the SPEED financed wind projects. Finally we hand out significant subsidies to these projects without taking into account land use impacts. Shouldn’t we be incenting these projects to utilize developed land rather than treating a project that utilizes prime agricultural land the same as a project on a brownfield? If anything, the renewable energy policy in this state has been tilted toward the large developer and has not properly ensured that Vermonters receive cost effective projects that maximize our environmental benefit. Some policy change in Montpelier is in order.

  • 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 benefit to NE. The entities in other states that buy the REC do not have to destroy THEIR ridge lines.

    Having an RPS would be very good for RE businesses (there is nothing better to make an excessively-priced product and REQUIRING your customers to buy it), but raise costs for everyone else.

    Eliminating RECs would harm VEC and other rate payers.

    • Kevin Jones

      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 sells the RECs from a VT project into an out of state program then the SPEED program does not result in a reduction in Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions nor does it result in a net increase in renewables in the region — you cannot sell the same green MWH twice. Why should Vermonters subsidize the sale of renewable energy to MA and CT? No other state in the northeast has such an illusionary renewable energy program like this. While I can accept your personal belief that you do not support the investment in renewable energy from an economic perspective please do not try to argue for those who support investments in renewables that the sham SPEED program is somehow preferable to an honest and transparent renewable portfolio standard (RPS). You prefer that their be no renewable energy subsidies and that is a fair position even though I disagree. While I prefer that there be an effective renewable energy policy in place please don’t try and argue that I should accept a sham alternative when your real view is that you just don’t like renewable energy subsidies.

      • 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 is not relevant.

        That I favor EE over RE until most EE opportunities are exhausted is not relevant.

        I can easily see why Vermont utilities would want to continue with the RECs; RECs are good for their rate payers.

        The RPS is a different animal. It is another major subsidy to RE businesses. For Vermont to have an RPS would be very good for RE businesses, but very bad for Vermont’s already-struggling households and businesses.

        There is nothing better for an RE business than to generate excessively-priced, variable, intermittent energy, i.e., junk energy, and REQUIRING utilities to buy it at any time, and at 3 to 5 times the grid price.

        How can this possibly be of benefit to Vermont’s already-struggling households and businesses?

        Remember “putting people first?”

  • Jon Walker

    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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 the two would then be the project (owning+O&M) cost.

    The advantage of my method would be any lesser CF and shorter life would affect only the (owning +O&M) of the turbine section.

    Please let me know, if you have further questions.

    • John Greenberg

      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 this was a no no.

      To that, you eventually responded that your spreadsheets use a residual value, though you hadn’t previously said so, and have never specified one.

      Now here, you suddenly appear to be saying that if GMP used a SPECIFIED (25-20%) residual value, their 10c number (according to you; I haven’t verified) would be correct.

      So which is it, 10c or 19c? a residual value of 25-30%? or some other value which you now want to assert?

      If you’re conceding the point Avram and I have been making, that’s great: welcome to the club. If not, please explain exactly what you are saying and how it differs.

      • 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 is less than earlier. I also revised my articles.

        More Likely Energy Cost:

        A percentage of the 10 c/kWh, say 40%, is due to the site preperation (land acquisition, blasting, road building, foundations, site runoff, connection to the grid, etc.) and the rest, 60%, is due the IWTs (mast, nacelle, rotor, etc.).

        Only the part associated with the wind turbines is affected by a lesser CF and a shorter life.

        Based on at least 35 years of Denmark and UK experience, a more likely life of IWTs is 15 – 20 years, say 17.5 years.

        More likely energy cost = (0.6 x 10 c/kWh x CF ratio 0.33/0.25 x Life ratio 25/17.5 x S-C system 1.03/1) + (0.4 x 10 c/kWh) = 15.7 c/kWh, heavily-subsidized; it would be 23.6 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per AEI/US-DOE.

        If you have any further questions. please let me know.

        • John Greenberg


          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 at least partially a matter of style, habit and preference. As long as the issue of differential longevity I raised (and Avram seconded, as it were) gets acknowledged properly, it doesn’t really matter HOW you do so and I can think of multiple approaches.

          Some last miscellaneous suggestions. You may want to consider even MORE than 2 spreadsheets, given that some items, like the underlying land have an infinite lifetime (and quite possibly one could treat the transmission and distribution lines as though they did as well), while things like blades probably last more than the turbines, but less than the towers, etc.

          As I’ve thought about it in my head (which is to say without trying to actually build a spreadsheet or look at one someone else built on this topic), I’d probably have one spreadsheet line to group items by each useful lifetime (i.e. one 15 year line, 1 25-year line, 15 50-year line, etc. as needed), and also had a line for a group of non-depreciable items like land and permits, and then added the “bottom lines” from these. But again, the devil is in the details of doing it.

          There may well be similar gymnastics needed for the revenue side. I gather the federal production credits expire after 10 years, RECs are sold by quarters and under current law only exist until 2017(?), and rates are set at irregular intervals, as I understand it. Then, depending on who owns the project, etc., there may be contractual arrangements for selling the power, etc.

          Finally, one would want to consider the federal, state and local tax implications on both the revenue sides and the costs side. That could have a major impact, for example, on how one decides to depreciate certain items, etc.

          I’ve never assumed that this analysis would be simple!

  • Wendy Wilton

    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.