Shumlin calls on grid operator to stop cutting Lowell wind power

Twenty-one 450-foot-tall wind turbines run along the Lowell Mountains ridgeline for 4 miles. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger

Twenty-one 450-foot-tall wind turbines run along the Lowell Mountains ridgeline for 4 miles. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger

Gov. Peter Shumlin is urging the New England power grid operator to stop limiting production from Green Mountain Power’s Lowell Mountain wind project during peak demand times for electricity.

New England and Vermont power grid officials say that GMP’s 21-turbine wind project was ordered to reel in generation during a recent heat wave because the project is incomplete and is connected to a weak point in the grid.

This issue came to a head recently when New England’s demand for power hit historic highs. ISO New England — the grid operator — called on GMP to curtail power from the 64.5 megawatt (mW) project and instead fire up diesel generators across the state. Vermont Public Radio first highlighted the event.

July 18 marked the fourth-highest peak in ISO’s history, as New Englanders demanded 27,377 mW. During that heat wave, GMP spokeswoman Dottie Schnure said the Lowell wind project had the ability to generate roughly 45 mW per hour (mWh), but ISO allowed it to generate between 15 and 20 mWh.

Schnure said ISO curtailed the turbines numerous times during the week of July 18, while the grid’s load peaked above 24,000 mW. At the same time ISO curtailed the wind project, it also called on GMP to fire up its four jet turbines and six diesel engines located elsewhere around the state to match the high demand.

Instead of using wind power, GMP was required to use more carbon-heavy and expensive fuels because ISO officials say the infrastructure used to transmit power from Lowell is insufficient.

Darren Springer, deputy commissioner of the Public Service Department, said the curtailment situation is bad for ratepayer’s pocketbooks, and it is inhibiting the state from moving quickly toward its Comprehensive Energy Plan goal of drawing 90 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2050.

“In New England, we’re looking at wind in the very low digits, and we’re having these issues,” Springer said. “If we’re going to get to where we need to go, we need a grid and a grid operator that is willing to do everything they can to integrate these renewable sources.”

On Friday, Shumlin wrote to ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie, encouraging him and his team to get on the same page with the state of Vermont.

“Vermont has a clear preference for renewable resources and would have preferred that the local renewable energy produced by this utility-owned resource had been used to meet regional power needs in the Northeast Kingdom and surrounding communities where homes and businesses were also experiencing a period of high demand last week,” Shumlin wrote.

Stephen Rourke, vice president of system planning for ISO New England, said the problem with the northern tier of Vermont’s grid is that there are numerous large-scale renewable energy projects feeding into a low voltage section of the transmission network. Intermittent power from Hydro-Quebec, and the Lowell and Sheffield wind projects is funneled through this older part of the grid.

“It’s really pretty simple: We can’t set the system up so that an overload would occur,” Rourke said. “There’s a limit to the amount of power we can transfer out of that area. … We always work to make sure the system runs in a reliable way. Having an event that could lead to a loss of customers is not a reliable outcome. So, we have to limit the amount of energy that the generators up in that part of the state are injecting into the network.”

Kerrick Johnson, the vice president of external affairs for VELCO, Vermont’s transmission utility, said on July 18, after a heavy rain the night before, the power coming in from the hydro dams in Quebec was at the interface’s maximum capacity.

“You have too much energy trying to get on too few lines,” Johnson said. “What happens is a voltage collapse, and you’d have to centrally cut off that area so that it wouldn’t black out other areas. Likely what would be one of the first negative impacts is that you’d start frying equipment.”

Another factor contributing to ISO’s frequent curtailments of the Lowell wind project is that GMP has not yet completed the construction of a synchronous condenser, which will be used to even out voltage from the intermittent wind plant. GMP doesn’t expect to complete this construction until the end of the year.

Marcia Blomberg, spokeswoman for ISO, said that without the condenser the Lowell project would continue to be the first project in the region to be curtailed.

“The ISO is operating the regional power grid in compliance with mandatory federal reliability standards. It is not possible to operate all of the resources in that area and remain in compliance with these standards under current system conditions,” Blomberg said. “A facility that has not completed system upgrades identified in its interconnection requirements would be backed down before other facilities in an area where curtailment is needed to ensure reliability.”

Blomberg said that another wind project in Vermont and one in Maine were also curtailed during Friday’s near record peak.

The reason?

“Transmission limitations,” she said.


Andrew Stein

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  • Rod West

    I believe that we sold all that power (renewable generation credits) out-of-state. Why is the curtailment bad for Vermont ratepayers? Maybe not so good for GMP’s shareholders though…

    • Rod,

      GMP Made Whole, Others Pay:

      Whereas Lowell Mountain will have significantly greater levelized energy costs than the 10c/kWh and the sale of RECs will be less due to less wind energy production, this would not affect GMP’s bottom line, as it would roll ALL its costs regarding Lowell Mountain mostly into its household rate schedules, subject to PSB approval, after pro forma hearings. 

      Because the business records of this heavily-subsidized project are “proprietary”, it is likely, the lay public will never learn what the real costs were, and legislators do not dare investigate lest they be seen as less green.

      GMPs will have only a loss of face.

      As a regulated utility, it is entitled to a minimum return on assets, no matter how imprudent its decisions were.

      • Matt Fisken

        “As a regulated utility, [GMP] is entitled to a minimum return on assets, no matter how imprudent its decisions were.”

        …also the case for wireless smart meters which are:

        a) heavily subsidized by the Feds
        b) being installed “whole hog” with the purported promise of stabilizing climate change (saving us from ourselves)
        c) part of a plan to produce, transmit and sell MORE electricity than before
        d) are making people sick with pulsed frequencies that are completely novel to our human experience on this planet
        e) causing people to consider moving away or spend money to mitigate their exposures
        f) making the grid LESS stable
        g) making some folks who don’t live in Vermont very rich.
        h) perfect examples of the “high hanging fruit” approach to modernizing the grid
        i) have a lifespan of a decade or two (tops)
        j) ill-suited for Vermont’s climate, geography and population density
        k) have so much political and industry support that most of us are simply afraid to question “progress” for fear of being labeled a luddite
        l) feel free to add your own!

        There’s a song that goes, “Life is what happens … when you’re busy making other plans.”

        Vermont can plan for 2050 any way it prefers, but I think James Howard Kunstler wrote it best:

        http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7/

        “The widespread wish to just uncouple from oil and gas and plug all our complex systems into other energy sources is an interesting and troubling enough phenomenon in its own right to merit some discussion. Perhaps the leading delusion is the notion that energy and technology are one and the same thing, interchangeable. The popular idea, expressed incessantly in the news media, is that if you run out of energy, you just go out and find some “new technology” to keep things running. We’ll learn that this doesn’t comport with reality.

        Another major mistake made by those who fail to pay attention is overlooking the unanticipated consequences of new technology, which more often than not add additional layers of problems to existing ones.

        Here’s the plain truth, folks: Hope is not a consumer product. You have to generate your own hope. You do that by demonstrating to yourself that you are brave enough to face reality and competent enough to deal with the circumstances that it presents.”

        • Patricia Crocker

          Well said.

      • John Greenberg

        Willem Post writes: “As a regulated utility, it is entitled to a minimum return on assets, no matter how imprudent its decisions were.”

        I’m no expert in utility law, but from all I understand about the topic, this totally misrepresents utility law and practice. Utility ratemaking cases essentially require that all assets be prudent, used and useful (all of which are terms of art in utility law).

        To cite just two examples, the PSB refused to allow CVPS and GMP to earn a return on their investment in Seabrook when it determined that the investment was no longer prudent.

        The same, as I understand it, was true of the HQ contract back in the 1990s, which is where the now infamous $21 million that everyone likes to complain about came from in the first place. Normally, CVPS shareholders would simply have eaten that expense, but at the time, the Board feared that if they required them to do so, the utility would spiral into bankruptcy. They therefore postponed repayment to ratepayers until the utility was solvent (or, as happened in this case, sold).

        The Board can make decisions only based on the information before it, but when that information changes, decisions about prudence can also change. My understanding is that if the Board determines either that the representations made to it during Lowell permitting proceedings are false or that circumstances have changed, it is then mandated to reduce the value of the asset on which a return can be earned. At the limit, it can determine that the asset has no value to ratepayers.

        • John,
          I wrote: As a regulated utility, it is entitled to a minimum return on assets, no matter how imprudent its decisions were.

          I was referring to the Lowell Mountain fiasco, approved by the PSB.

          After it was approved by the PSB, GMP it entitled to its legally allowed return on assets, unless GMP is willfully negligent regarding the project.

          • John Greenberg

            Willem:
            “After it was approved by the PSB, GMP it entitled to its legally allowed return on assets, unless GMP is willfully negligent regarding the project.”

            I hope someone better versed in utility law than I am will weigh in here, but my understanding is that your clarification, which I understand to suggest that GMP can earn the return indefinitely and regardless of facts OTHER THAN willful negligence, remains false.

            GMP is allowed its return until the next rate case. On that, we certainly agree.

            If the project is then challenged as imprudent, or not used and useful, the Board can decide effectively to partially or entirely impair the asset, meaning that, going forward, the utility would NOT collect a return on the disallowed portion of the asset. And it is certainly my understanding that willful negligence is NOT the only reason for imprudence.

            For example, you’ve consistently contended that GMP SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that the capacity factor on which the project is predicated is too high. If you can make that charge stick at the Board, my understanding is that the Board could (and probably would) grant a less than full return on the asset going forward. If, on the other hand, GMP can show that its initial estimate was reasonable, and that capacity factors have been lower than estimated for reasons that do NOT speak to imprudence, gross negligence, mismanagement, etc., I assume that the Board WOULD allow it to continue to collect its full return.

            The key here is EVIDENCE that the Board was misled or that the evidence shows that GMP has been imprudent (or perhaps in this case, that the asset is less useful than originally thought). Contending that — as you have done repeatedly — and proving it are, of course, two very different things.

      • Townsend Peters

        If ISO-NE is right that GMP should have foreseen curtailment, then the PSB can disallow GMP’s costs related to curtailment as imprudent. That assumes we have a consumer advocate willing and able to make the case.

  • Matt Fisken

    Unfortunately, “preferences” and physics aren’t always compatible.

    I’m reminded of the late Noel Perrin who may have been the first Vermonter to own a road-legal electric car, who also had solar panels installed on his roof when they were still really expensive and net metering was not so lucrative. Ned’s commute to work each day included a stretch of town-owned road in New Hampshire that was relatively flat (good for lightweight, low-power cars), but very pot-holed and frost-heaved (not good). I don’t how long it took for his pleas to the town to level and repave this particular road to be answered, but hopefully it illustrates my point that early adopters will always face an uphill battle trying to conform their bleeding-edge machines to an existing infrastructure reality.

    Another example of this was in 1998 Apple introduced the first iMac which had ONLY USB ports, when USB was still in its infancy. Owners of this new computer could hardly blame 3rd party device makers for not supporting the new protocol right away, and as history has shown, Apple was correct in picking this standard which has reached version 4.0 and can now be found in cars and TVs. There is even a USB powered mini fridge on the market.

    It will be interesting to see how much money it takes to get KCW to “play nice” with New England’s grid and whether running at full capacity during peak periods really risks the reliability of the grid. We will see if GMP was ahead of its time by destroying the Lowell ridge line for a few megawatts, or if the company is just a spelunker who is mad they don’t get cell coverage when they need it most.

  • Cynthia Browning

    Is it the “synchronous condenser” that is to cost $10 million, which will be added to the GMP base of capital investment, and for which the ratepayers will have to pay?

    My understanding is that everyone was aware of the problem of limited transmission capacity before the Lowell Mountain project was constructed. But nothing was done to deal with it.

    Rep. Cynthia Browning, Arlington

    • Cynthia,

      You are quite right. Did not some legislators talk about this among themselves, or at least shake their heads?

      DPS, PSB, GMP, Klein, et al, all knew the NEK grid is not capable of taking the variable wind energy, but pushed for heavily-subsidized wind turbines on ridge lines anyway, because of fulfillment of some PLAN.

    • Randy Koch

      What conclusions are we to draw from this performance of our regulatory system? What does it mean that the PSB, the DPS, and perhaps the V-cheerleaders (VPIRG, VNRC, CLF, etc) knew the transmission system was deficient? Is the condenser a real fix? Once it is installed, are there other “surprises” in store?

    • Guy Page

      Rep. Browning –

      Yes it is my understanding that the synchronous condenser costs $10 million, and will be installed by late this year. The condenser is expected to fix most of the problem, but not all; there may still be some curtailments, ISO says. I expect that in one way or another, sooner or later, the ratepayer will get the bill. That’s how the utility works.

      As for knowing ahead of time but doing nothing – well, the statehouse is not immune to hubris and politically-motivated blindness, as you well know.

  • As Matt Fisken says in his last paragraph: “It will be interesting to see how much money it takes….”

    Interesting to whom?

    Forget about the relative chump change involved with dynamiting mountaintops to build wind turbines that are all too frequently curtailed because of a lack of understanding or planning for the generation and transmission of electricity on the part of the Shumlin administration and Vermont legislature.

    Lets go to the semi-serious money, semi-serious at least in the minds of the politicians. We just heard this week that it’s going to cost a staggering $427 million dollars to set up the health care exchange in Vermont. That’s almost a half a billion dollars being spent by Vermont so that two insurance companies can post health care policies on the internet and some bureaucrat in Washington can decide if you qualify for a subsidy.

    An astounding $427 million to be spent,………..and hardly a peep from the people, and not a word from the Governor or the Legislators after hearing of this obscene expenditure of taxpayer money. Are we going nuts in this country?

    So again, back to Matt Fisken’s question, spending money will be interesting…..

    Matt, based on the latest data in, no one seems to care about how much, or simply how our money is being spent. When are the people of Vermont going to wake up or are we really going nuts?

  • Dave Stevens

    Its certainly frustrating that renewables were limited(again) during last weeks peak demand time while ISO is demanding carbon-rich generation in it’s place. So I’m guessing that this particular issue, that being an inadequate grid would effectively deter developing new wind generation projects in these areas of the state. If I remember previous news briefs correctly, “synchronous condensers” don’t seem to be a very cost effective measure.
    So does this open up the potential for locating wind generation in more populated areas of the state such as Chittenden county where the grid can handle higher voltage? You could argue that would be the more equitable thing to do. Also, I’m sure that the “curtailment hawks” would appreciate a change of scenery.

    • Don Peterson

      Dana: Curtailment has emerged as an issue because it points to the fraudulent nature of our collective attempt to rein in global carbon buildup. Vermont is an especially egregious example of such an attempt.

      THe carbon rich generation you mention is abetted by the double dealing of Vermont’s policies, which give utilities in this state a chance to double dip into the morass of competing carbon reduction policies of other states. Those policies are written by the industy players, not by concerned environmentalists.

      Thanks to VtDigger, a consensus is emerging from the so called “curtailment hawks”, and this might be summed up as follows:

      When the foxes write the rules on how to fix up the hen house, the hens will have to roost in the rafters.

    • John Greenberg

      Dale Stevens asks: “So does this open up the potential for locating wind generation in more populated areas of the state such as Chittenden county where the grid can handle higher voltage?”

      Only if there is a wind resource there to be exploited. It should be obvious — though it appears not to be — that wind power can be generated only where there is a sufficient wind resource.

      • John,
        “It should be obvious that wind power can be generated only where there is a sufficient wind resource.”

        Wind energy can indeed be generated where there is wind, but can it be done ECONOMICALLY?

        I is obvious, to even the most obtuse people, generating wind energy on ridge lines in Vermont is an economic fiasco (as it is in Maine), because actual CFs of about 0.25 are nowhere near promised Lowell CFs of 0.338.

        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

  • Andrew,
    “Gov. Peter Shumlin is urging the New England power grid operator to stop limiting production from Green Mountain Power’s Lowell Mountain wind project during peak demand times for electricity.”

    ISO-NE HAS to limit Lowell, Sheffield, Georgia wind turbine energy to maintain a stable grid at all times, especially during stressful conditions, such as peak demands on hot days.

    Shumlin, Blittersdorf, Schnure, the PSB, the DPS, Klein, et al., are the disturbers approving and feeding variable wind energy into the NEK grid they KNEW could not take the energy; the $10.5 synchronous-condensers facility that smoothes voltages, required by ISO-NE to protect the grid, will only solve a minor part of the problem.

    NOTE: Low capacity factors and grid issues not just a Vermont problem. For the 5th year in a row, the three New Brunswick wind turbine plants (150 + 99 + 45 = 294 MW) have UNDERPERFORMED.

    In 2012, owner/vendor-promised production 904,000 MWh, for a CF of 0.35; actual production 694,000 MWh, for a CF of 0.27. The utility is not complaining, because the production shortfall enables it to by energy from the grid at about 5.5 c/kWh, about half the price of 10.5 c/kWh it HAS to pay, by law, for wind energy!

    A fourth proposed wind turbine plant has been put on hold, because of grid reliability/coping issues.

    David Hallquist has testified repeatedly before various government boards regarding the inadequacy of the NEK grid, but his testimony was set aside, because it would jeopardize the unrealistic 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan that aims to have 90% of ALL Vermont energy (not just electrical energy) from instate and out of state renewables; even Germany and California do not have such extreme goals.

    A MUCH BETTER SOLUTION THAN WIND TURBINES ON RIDGE LINES

    Hydro-Quebec could provide up to 50% of NE’s energy at about 6 c/kWh under long-term contracts. The capital cost would be at most $5-10 billion for HVDC transmissions facilities from Quebec to NE.

    Such low-cost energy, added to NE’s hydro energy, would lead to a major reduction of NE’s CO2 emissions, AND a boost to NE’s economy.

    HQ has about 6,000 MW of unused, nearly CO2-free hydro capacity that it would like to place in service to export low-cost energy to New England.

    REMEMBER: The environmental damage due to HQ is already done. It would be irrational to do ADDITIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE by severely damaging pristine ridge lines in Vermont and the rest of NE to produce energy at THREE times the current grid prices!

  • Annette Smith

    Don’t blame GMP for building in an area that couldn’t handle the load, blame ISO-NE.

    Give GMP a break for being on a learning curve. That’s their excuse and they’re sticking to it.

    On Friday, GMP filed testimony in the CPG noise violation case, claiming ignorance about winter operating conditions:
    “One aspect of wintertime turbine operation that we originally had not anticipated, and had not been discussed during turbine procurement, was the impact on sound levels of snow accumulation on the blades of the turbine.” [full testimony here: http://vce.org/Castonguay Testimony.pdf]

    Yep, GMP’s engineer says they didn’t realize snow (like ice) would build up on the blades. Now Google wind turbine snow noise and find all the papers that note that snow can build up under certain conditions and behave like ice increasing noise.

    GMP is learning. All problems are someone else’s fault, and ratepayers will pay. Can you imagine the Department of Public Service advocating for ratepayers against this administration’s top priority, catering to GMP?

    On a related topic, people often ask what impact the turbine noise may be having on wildlife. Here is an excellent 15 minute TED talk about the soundscape of the natural world.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/bernie_krause_the_voice_of_the_natural_world.html?utm_source=direct-on.ted.com&utm_content=ted-androidapp&awesm=on.ted.com_egMp&utm_medium=on.ted.com-android-share&utm_campaign=

    Watch the TED talk, then watch this 1 1/2 minute video taken last December on the Lowell Mountains. Is it any wonder that people aren’t seeing the wildlife around the Lowells that they once did?

    • Kathy Leonard

      We are just beginning to realize the effect on wildlife. Vital avian/mammal/amphibian communication is being disturbed in significant wildlife habitats across the globe. No one is looking at the cumulative effect these rapidly proliferating power plants are having on wildlife, from noise disruption leading to dispersal and stress – to habitat fragmentation – to collision and “take permits” which in addition to bats now includes American Condor, Whooping Crane, golden eagles and piping plover. (We protect these species in some locations yet sanction their loss in others..doesn’t make financial or biological sense) .

      We are full on into the sixth great extinction and seem unable to understand that we can’t just builld MORE. We have to use LESS, which means rethinking how we live on our host planet. Are large wind plants so popular because people then don’t have to adjust their own lifestyles? Big energy is just as destructive IMO as big banking.

      http://www.mojavedesertblog.com/2013/07/update-on-utility-scale-energy-projects.html

      http://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/blog/2013/07/17/new-study-estimates-573000-birds-died-at-wind-farms-last-year/

  • Willem, everyday we hear more, making it appear that Governor Shumlin, etal have painted themselves into a corner with Comprehensive Energy Plan and the accompanying renewable energy strategy. Now we see the Governor write what can be described as a letter of desperation to ISO-NE asking asking that it accept power from the NEK wind turbines.

    It is important that you keep putting out the technical facts on these renewal energy issues for all to see. Hopefully, our elected representatives in Montpelier will soon decide that its time for them to begin asking questions of the Governor and his Administration.

    Hopefully others with technology expertise will join you in an effort to enlighten and correct this matter.

    • John Greenberg

      Peter Yankowski writes as though the Comprehensive Energy Plan from 2011 is a radical departure from Vermont’s previous energy strategies.

      It isn’t.

      The previous plan from 1998 — well before Peter Shumlin had anything to do with it — promotes a strategy of reducing overall use, shifting from fossil fuels to more efficient and sustainable resources, and heavy promotion of renewable resources, just like its successor in 2011.

      Page 10 of the overview (http://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/psd/files/Pubs_Plans_Reports/State_Plans/Comp_Energy_Plan/1998/CEP%201998%20overview.pdf) offers the following goals to be achieved by 2020: “Total energy use decreases 16.2%,” Transportation energy use could be cut by 29.8% cumulatively through 2020 compared to the base case projections,” “Use of renewable energy sources (wind, solar, wood, hydro power, etc.) increases under the composite policy case by a cumulative 38.7% …” etc.

      As I have suggested in these columns repeatedly, Vermont’s policies have pointed in the same direction – with relatively minor variations – for decades. There’s nothing the least bit odd about that, since virtually the whole world has set itself very similar goals thanks to the more and more visible environmental constraints against pursuing the old paths.

      • John,

        “There’s nothing the least bit odd about that, since virtually the whole world has set itself very similar goals thanks to the more and more visible environmental constraints against pursuing the old paths.”

        The USDOE/EIA latest projections are significantly at variance with the above statement. The use of fossil fuels will significantly INCREASE between now and 2040. See figure 2 of the report.

        http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/more_highlights.cfm

        It is obvious, the world has NOT set itself goals “very similar” to Vermont.

        Vermont’s RE folks in various organizations live in an RE fairyland of their own making. No state in the world, not even Germany or California, has a goal to have 90% of ALL energy from renewables, yet it is in the PLAN.

        Because of the shift to “electrify” the Vermont economy (use less fossil fuels), Blittersdorf, owner of the Georgia Mountain wind turbine plant, “calculates” Vermont will need 3 times the electricity, about 18,000 GWh/yr (and probably 2 times the grid capacity with poles and wires all over the place), if the PLAN is implemented by 2050.

        • John Greenberg

          Willem:
          “The USDOE/EIA latest projections are significantly at variance with the above statement.”

          My statement clearly concerns GOALS. The EIA projections are about attainment. These are two entirely distinct things.

          I didn’t say — nor, for that matter do the CEPs — that the goals laid out WILL be achieved; the point of laying thaem out is to express the intent that they SHOULD be achieved and to set forth the steps required to accomplish that aim. You believe that our energy future SHOULD be nuclear; I believe that it should not. Whether it WILL be or not is an entirely different question. (My PREDICTION is that nuclear plants will be phased out over time, but far less quickly than I believe they SHOULD be).

          EIA’s projections, on the other hand, are predictions about the future, not statements of desired goals: predictions may be right; they may be wrong. Time will tell. But that’s another matter completely.

          In short, the point you raise is altogether different from the one I was making.

          To engage YOUR point just a little, didn’t DOE (or its predecessor) predict that there would be 1000 US nuclear plants by the year 2000? Are EIA projections always correct? What’s the agency’s track record when it comes to predicting distant futures?

          • John,
            “In short, the point you raise is altogether different from the one I was making.”

            “There’s nothing the least bit odd about that, since virtually the whole world has set itself very similar goals thanks to the more and more visible environmental constraints against pursuing the old paths.”

            Virtually the whole world has NOT set very similar goals as the CEP. The CEP is more extreme than even Germany or California’s goals, by far; 90% of ALL energy from renewables by 2050. It is nice/fee-good to set it as a goal, but it is unrealistic fantasizing, considering the latest PROJECTIONS of the US-DOE/EIA and the results of the 2012 DOHU round.
            http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/more_highlights.cfm#sthash.xNaBAMAQ.dpuf

            Excerpt from below article:

            Extension of Kyoto Protocols, KP-2: An extension of the Kyoto Protocols, KP-2, effective from 2012 to 2020, was agreed to, but Japan, Canada and New Zealand will not be signing up for KP-2.

            This leaves only 37 signatory nations, including Australia, all members of the European Union, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, committed to the KP-2 targets. Collectively, these 37 nations committed to reduce their CO2 emissions 18% below their 1990 level between 2013-2020. The targets may be strengthened by 2014.

            Note: It is likely, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will continue as signatories, but not as ratifiers of KP-2, due to a last-minute amendment to KP-2 at the Dohu conference, which requires their CO2 emissions during the KP-2 period to not exceed their averages of the 2008 – 2010 period. As they previously had an easier path towards CO2 emissions reduction, they claim this new requirement would hamper their economic growth. They may withdraw from KP-2, or not ratify it.

            After “defections”, whereas KP-1 had enough signatories committed to cover at least 55% of the world’s CO2 emissions in 1990, the nations (33?) committed to KP-2 will cover significantly less than 15%. It appears, the KP-2 impact will be meaningless, and the world’s CO2 emissions will increase unabated.

            http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/151031/global-warming-targets-and-capital-costs-germany-s-energiewende

          • John Greenberg

            Willem:

            Three points:

            1) Clearly, I didn’t make myself clear when I wrote: “virtually the whole world has set itself very similar goals ….” What I was referring to was not the specific number in the 2011 CEP, but my own recitation of what I believe is the core of Vermont’s goals over decades: namely, “a strategy of reducing overall use, shifting from fossil fuels to more efficient and sustainable resources, and heavy promotion of renewable resources.”

            2) That said, there is nothing “extreme,” about setting a goal of 90%. You point out yourself that Vermont sits next Quebec, which has sufficient energy right now to provide 100% of Vermont’s energy needs, if they could all be reduced to electricity instantaneously. Right now, the impediments to Vermont’s reaching the goal are insufficient efforts in conservation and efficiency, overdependence on non-electric sources of energy for transportation and building heating and cooling, and the relatively high cost of developing in-state renewables, but not an overall lack of available energy.

            3) Vermont’s 90% goal is, as you suggest, higher than Germany’s overall goal of 60% , but its goal of 75% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050 (2011 CEP, Vol 2, p. 4) is actually slightly LOWER than California’s goal of 80%. (EXECUTIVE ORDER S-21-09, http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=13269) or Germany’s 80-95% reduction goal. (“Energy Concept for an Environmentally Sound, Reliable and Affordable Energy Supply,” p. 5 http://www.bmu.de/fileadmin/bmu-import/files/english/pdf/application/pdf/energiekonzept_bundesregierung_en.pdf). Germans are known for many things, but “unrealistic fantasizing” is usually not among them.

      • Matt Fisken

        Yes, John, the current plan does build upon the previous plan. It may not be a “radical departure” (your words, not Peter’s), but it does stray from the original direction, which is likely a result of the cultural paradigm shifts regarding climate change and peak oil which have taken place since 1998.

        For example (from each plan summary):

        1998: Improving transportation energy use. As indicated throughout this Plan, transportation is the largest energy use in Vermont. Transportation offers the greatest opportunities for more efficient energy use, reduced emissions, and reduced reliance on oil. Giant steps can be taken toward the goals of this Plan through bold actions such as increasing the efficiency of vehicles through higher CAFE standards and a variety of state polices to maximize fuel efficiency and to minimize safety risks and associated emergency service costs. Continued implementation of vapor recovery at gas stations and adoption of a low emissions vehicle standard will support reductions in transportation-related emissions. Efforts to shift travel to more efficient modes (buses, vanpools, trains) and greater focus on non-motorized transportation and telecommuting will also contribute to reductions in transportation energy use and emissions.

        2011: Transportation Transformation To prepare for the transportation fuel and funding changes ahead, the CEP recommends establishment of an interagency task force to plan for electric and alternative fuel vehicles in Vermont and the region.

        This is only one example of how the plan has shifted away from efficiency (use less more intelligently) to strategies that will require more energy and massive investments in technology that will never live up to their promises.

        Just to mention, the 1998 plan looked ahead 22 years while the 2011 plan looks ahead 39 years. That is a significant shift in scope, which can certainly be lauded for being forward-looking, but that giant leap ahead four decades risks alienating those who are trying to figure out how to pay their bills and put food on the table THIS WEEK.

        It is no doubt comforting to think that we can dictate our energy use through political action. Without completely disregarding it, I think the 2011 CEP makes too many assumptions about the future, namely that our centralized “just in time” power grid will continue to operate as reliably through 2050 as it has for the past four decades, regardless of a three-fold increase in capacity.

        What would a Vermont CEP plan look like that considers that THE grid is not a renewable resource and is prone to any number of failures due to overload, power quality disruptions, natural or man-made disasters or geomagnetic storm?

        How helpful is a plan without a plan B?

        • John Greenberg

          Responses to Matt Fisken:

          1) The words “radical departure” are indeed, mine. Did I suggest otherwise? What is the significance that you (and Peter Yankowski below – “Matt Fisken for catching sly old John with another one of his word/meaning twisting tricks”) seem to see in this phrase? I must be REALLY sly, since I have no idea what you think is the devious content of these words.

          2) Obviously, the 2 plans are not identical. There are 2 large reasons for this you seem to overlook. One is that since 1998, many of the things the plan called for have been implemented: e.g. “higher CAFE standards and a variety of state polices to maximize fuel efficiency and to minimize safety risks and associated emergency service costs.”

          Second, since 1998, the availability and feasibility of a variety of options has changed significantly. Electric vehicles are now commercially available from major manufacturers, who have bet heavily on producing and improving them. Solar photovoltaic prices were roughly ½ in 2011 of what they were in 1998. Examples can easily be multiplied.

          3) You write: “This is only one example of how the plan has shifted away from efficiency (use less more intelligently) to strategies that will require more energy and massive investments in technology that will never live up to their promises.” That, of course, is your characterization of the Plan.

          But it’s directly contradicted by the Plan itself: “Efficiency and conservation must be the first priority for any comprehensive energy plan. “The cost of existing energy efficiency measures is clearly smaller than the energy savings they produce; those efficiency dollars also stay local and create good jobs for Vermonters. Meanwhile, electricity prices and heating fuel prices are expected to rise, and are in any event subject to market forces and volatility. The costs of renewable energy technologies are forecast to drop over time, but the timeline and depth of this drop are not likely to change the economic equation regarding efficiency in at least the next decade. Therefore, efficiency investments must continue to be the first choice in energy policy.” (p. 5, volume I, Public review Draft) (http://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/psd/files/Pubs_Plans_Reports/State_Plans/Comp_Energy_Plan/2011/Vol%20I%20Public%20Review%20Draft%202011%20CEP%201pg%20view.pdf)

          4) You write: “that giant leap ahead four decades risks alienating those who are trying to figure out how to pay their bills and put food on the table THIS WEEK.” That’s an incredibly cheap shot. First, the whole purpose of a CEP is to look ahead. If looking ahead alienates those who have to “put food on the table THIS WEEK,” then what you are really suggesting is that the State should do NO planning. And while it’s true that the new plan tries to look farther ahead than the old one, surely that’s not a distinction that makes a difference to those who find it difficult to look ahead more than a week.

          What you fail to note is that utility planning is inherently a long-term process. Those who can’t look ahead more than a week don’t build generating plants, ALL of which take years to implement and most of which will last, at a minimum, for decades.

          5) You write: “It is no doubt comforting to think that we can dictate our energy use through political action.” I don’t know who you are suggesting thinks that political action “can dictate our energy use,” since a moment’s thought is all that is required to recognize that energy decisions involve the private sector as well as government.

          In Vermont, most utility decisions are made by private utilities, whether investor owned or cooperatively owned, or by municipal utilities; few are made by the State. But the State can and does provide the policy framework which helps guide these decisions, and once implemented, regulate them. The 2011 CEP explicitly recognizes this and devotes considerable space to the interplay between federal, state, and municipal authorities, the laws passed by Congress and the legislature, and private actors, including utilities, VELCO, ISO-NE, etc.

          6) It is inherent in the nature of any plan which looks out almost 40 years that it make numerous assumptions about future conditions. Like your objection above (#4), the only way to avoid this that I know of is to simply avoid planning.

          • Matt Fisken

            John, thanks for the response. As usual, your comment is pointed and fairly reasonable. I appreciate the intensity you bring to these discussions, even if our views aren’t identical.

            re: “that’s an incredibly cheap shot.”

            If others feel the same way, I’m happy to apologize.

            I think that your tendency to assume what others are implying in their comments is not helpful. Maybe it’s just your way of engaging with people?

            You write, “what [Matt is] really suggesting is that the State should do NO planning.”

            This is not the case at all. I think I was pretty clear in my comment that the scope of the plan may turn some people away from learning about it and supporting it. I was not talking about people “who can’t look ahead more than a week.” I’m talking about people (the majority of Vermonters) who will never have the means to buy a hybrid/electric car, super-insulate their home, install a solar array, convert their old furnace to natural gas, install a heat pump, replace all their windows, etc.

            Time-frames aside, the 2011 CEP is only as useful as what ALL Vermonters get out of it. Because it is filled with questionable goals of building out industrial ridge line wind plants, taking full advantage of the fracked gas boom (while VT has banned fracking), and relies on oxymorons like “renewable electricity,” there are many reasons for people who have the time and reading comprehension to question the plan.

            What I am really suggesting is, at best, this plan is so lofty that most of its goals will not be met. Even if its goals were attainable, there is a good chance that accomplishing them would do more harm than good. This is based primarily on my understanding of the problems with smart meters (microwaves/RF), wind turbines (infrasound/habitats/watersheds) and pumped up powerlines (low frequency EMF) which will continue to have negative effects on Vermonters. The omission of these serious issues from The Energy Plan suggests it does not deserve the “Comprehensive” descriptor.

            I’m willing to consider that the progressive left and multinational utilities know what’s best for Vermont. BUT, they will need to demonstrate that their solutions to our energy and climate challenges include more than $50,000 golf carts, $1m pinwheels and touch screens that tell us whether we have the lights turned on.

          • John Greenberg

            Matt:

            I confess that I do interpret the words you write to mean what you actually say. If that’s a sin, then I am certainly guilty of it.

            When you now argue that saying “that giant leap ahead four decades risks alienating those who are trying to figure out how to pay their bills and put food on the table THIS WEEK,” means “not … people “who can’t look ahead more than a week”,” but “people (the majority of Vermonters) who will never have the means to buy a hybrid/electric car, super-insulate their home, install a solar array, convert their old furnace to natural gas, install a heat pump, replace all their windows, etc.,” you’re asking me to read what was in your mind, not what you wrote on the page. I can’t do that.

            I interpreted the argument you presented as you offered it, and at least it concerned time-spans in both cases: that of the plans, on the one hand; those confronted by paycheck-to-paycheck Vermonters, on the other. While I disagree with its logic, at least it made sense in that regard.

            Your new argument, however, makes none (to me at least). How does the fact that some Vermonters don’t have means affect in any way whether Vermont’s energy plan should cover a 20 year or a 40 year span? I fail to see any relationship whatsoever between those two statements.

            As to the remainder of what you write, it’s perfectly true that there are “many reasons for people who have the time and reading comprehension to question the plan.” I’d even go so far as to say that’s as it should be: there are many complex variables involved in this discussion, and Vermonters do not address them all with one voice.

            Your rhetoric about reducing the plan to “$50,000 golf carts, $1m pinwheels and touch screens that tell us whether we have the lights turned on” makes it difficult to take your arguments very seriously, however.

          • Carl Werth

            “I confess that I do interpret the words you write to mean what you actually say. If that’s a sin, then I am certainly guilty of it.”

            Wow, John! I do not want to take any side here, but I am not sure I have ever read anything more pompous here than that line above.

  • Don Peterson

    Nice to see the Governor vs ISO NE engineer face off. It begins to seem like a lot of Vermont’s energy policy is wishful thinking. “Build it and they will come” was a movie, Mr. Shumlin, not an energy policy….

  • walter moses

    What a sham and fraud this whole GMP story is. Remember the failure to pay back the ratepayers when CVPS was bought at a premium price? The proceeds ended up where? Even a representative from VPIRG told me that that was a slight of hand with the cooperation of the governor and his lackeys in the legislature. He was described as a “slippery fella” even by the VPIRG guy. We need to get rid of Shumlin. I am an independent voter and I voted for this guy. Also, we need to get rid of the present PSB, sooner the better.

    • rosemarie jackowski

      Walter…Thanks for reminding us of the 21 MILLION dollars that are owed to us. Too soon, too many forget.

  • Kathy Nelson

    Wow, some of the corporate elite go whining to the governor because they think their toys are not being properly respected and Petey whips out a letter to ISO demanding an accounting for its actions. Too bad he couldn’t have whipped out a letter telling Iberdrola to bug off when he took the 22 minutes to hear what the people of Grafton had to say.
    The Lowell wind project was never completed because they were told they would have grid problems before even one turbine was put up. I’ll post a link to the Mankousky (ISO engineer) testimony if anyone really cares. It’s been posted several times already. So why was GMP allowed to claim subsidies for a fool project that won’t be finished until the end of 2013 (their deadline expired Dec 2012)?
    I don’t belong to the regular comment clique on VT Digger so getting comments posted here isn’t very reliable. I wonder though, if Digger ever bothered to ask Gov. Pete (an accounting if you will) what happened when he disappeared for four days in Italy just when the Italian government was seizing bank assets belonging to mafia run wind farm operations?

    • Thanks for writing, Kathy. Yes, comments in which you have engaged in ad hominem attacks have been deleted. Anne Galloway, editor

  • Coleman Dunnar

    ” Springer said. “If we’re going to get to where we need to go, we need a grid and a grid operator that is willing to do everything they can to integrate these renewable sources.”
    Rumor has it that the next move of the Shumlin administration is to introduce legislation next session to repeal the laws of physics. Why not they were able to repeal the laws of basic economics.
    “On Friday, Shumlin wrote to ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie, encouraging him and his team to get on the same page with the state of Vermont.”
    Am I the only one that heard the hysterical laughter coming from ISO-NE headquarters????????

    • Coleman,

      While running for governor, Shulman had the audacity to say Germany was getting 30% of its energy from PV solar, whereas, in fact, it was about 2% at that time; now it is about 4.5%, after

      – spending several hundred billion euros in subsidies and feed-in tariffs since 2000, and

      – driving industry OUT of Germany because of high energy costs and grid instabilities.

      It was said he “misspoke”.

      Vermont’s RE folks in various organizations live in an RE fairyland of their own making. No state in the world, not even Germany or California, has a goal to have 90% of ALL energy from renewables, yet it is in the PLAN.

      Blittersdorf, owner of Georgia Mountain wind turbine plant, “calculates” Vermont will need 3 times the electricity, about 18,000 GWh/yr (and probably 2 times the grid capacity with poles and wires all over the place), if the PLAN is implemented by 2050.

      NOTE: Reminds me of the USSR and its 5-yr plans. Eventually, the USSR collapsed under its own weight.

      That is right up his wind turbine ally, because it would require massive build-outs of Lowell-type ridge line wind turbine plants and major build-outs of grid facilities, all paid for by already-struggling households and businesses, i.e., “socializing” the costs, with the benefits going to a few multi-millionaire owners and vendors of wind turbines.

      Vermont would end up generating almost ALL of the 18,000 GWh/yr at about 3 times NE grid prices, which will ultimately lead to a most adverse economic prospect for Vermont’s economy. May be the “free-money” EB-5 projects will make up for it.

  • Moshe Braner

    Please, all journalists covering energy issues, please learn to use correct units. Otherwise the numbers quoted are meaningless or ambiguous. There is no such thing as “megawatts per hour”, any more than a car can travel “65 mph per minute”! A “watt” is a unit of power, not energy. Power means energy per unit time. The time unit is implicit*. A 100-watt light bulb does not use “100 watts per hour”. It simply uses 100 watts, at any moment, for any length of time. Over 2 hours it uses 200 watt-hours (that’s watts TIMES hours), or one fifth of a KWH of energy.

    (* watts = joules (energy unit) per second (time unit))

    • Andrew,

      Great article, lots of good comments. Please note:

      It is MWh (megawatthour), not mWh which means milliwatthour
      It is MW (megawatt), not mW which means milliwatt.
      It is kWh (kilpwatthour)

      • Craig Kneeland

        I learned that metric abbreviations for values greater that one are capitalized, while those for less than one, are not. If we wanted to abbreviate Kilowatt Hours of energy we would use the abbreviation of KWH.

        • Matt Fisken

          It seems that rule doesn’t always apply. Maybe because there is no fractional unit that starts with “k”…

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilowatt_hour

          • Matt/Craig,

            Most teachers in high school or college have little or no working experience in industry and are likely not familiar with the way engineering professionals and scientists express units.

            The units I showed in my comment are used in engineering and science and by the DPS.

            Lawyers, legislators, press reporters, and assorted other people may invent their own designations, which yield confusion, as shown by Andrew Stein.

  • Cynthia Browning

    It is my hope that the structure and operations of the Department of Public Service and the Public Service Board and the processes for setting electricity rates will be up for effective study and revision during this legislative session.

    It is well known that a regulated industry tends to “capture” the agencies and legislators who regulate it. The goal of establishing renewable energy sources should not be used to justify imposing all of the risks on the ratepayers while the private corporation reaps the rewards. Any time a large corporation and a government work closely together ordinary people should watch out. The goals of renewable energy and mitigating climate change cannot justify the means of abusing ratepayers and manipulating the regulatory process.

    But it is essential that Vermonters who have concerns about these issues contact their legislators and the governor about it. I know from my failure to get the $21 million CVPS bailout back for ratepayers or to get substantive evaluation of the GMP/CVPS merger that GMP and this administration may be likely to use money and power to prevent any real reforms.

    Rep. Cynthia Browning, Arlington

    • Cynthia,

      Because of the RE subsidies, all sorts of shenanigans take place behind the scenes, more so than is normally the case.

      “Approving” wind turbines on ridge lines and the stolen $21 million is just the tip of the iceberg.

      Please read this report and tell me if mitigating climate change is at all possible or likely.
      http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/more_highlights.cfm

      Cynthia, there is no point continuing to tilt at wind mills.

      It is best to PREPARE for climate change by

      – moving from flood plains and other vulnerable areas, and

      – increasing the size of drainage ditches and culverts, and

      – building runoff retention basins.

      Building out RE in Vermont will just make matters worse, without there being enough funds for preparation.

  • Stan Hopson

    A Democrat legislator with a D next to her name talking common sense is such a breath of fresh air. Cynthia Browning, I admire you for your what qualifies as absolutely bold leadership in your caucus. From health care to wind power, I’ve watched you ask the tough questions even thou few in your majority party care to answer.

    Browning’s a throwback to when the Democrat Party was just left of center and not over the ledge. Vermonters would be well served by a more balanced approach from the Cynthia Brownings of the world.

  • Jay Davis

    Some here have really cut down a forest, when only one tree was defective.
    The Vermont Wind project destroyed a part of Vermont’s environment. The mills generate noise. They are a good investment because tax breaks are awarded those who build them
    The rate payers be damned. Well, why is this surprising anyone?

  • Michael Colby

    They’ll never produce enough wind to blow away the stink of corruption here. Let’s hope the investigations begin soon. Earth to Sorrell, come in Sorrell.

  • John, your comments that the Shumlin’s 2011 CEP is basically in line with past CEPs may be comforting to you, but it doesn’t change the fact that Shumlin owns this baby, messy diapers and all.

    Special thanks to fact checker, Matt Fisken for catching sly old John with another one of his word/meaning twisting tricks.

  • John,

    “The key here is EVIDENCE that the Board was misled or that the evidence shows that GMP has been imprudent (or perhaps in this case, that the asset is less useful than originally thought”.

    GMP stated a CF of 0.338 and the PSB did not challenge it, approved the project, even though ample FERC data from actual wind turbine plants on Maine ridge lines and in New York State indicated about 0.25.

    The Board was not misled.

    GMP and the Board may have engaged in politically-expedient collusion to make RE a reality to achieve the PLAN, or the Board may be guilty of malfeasance as a result of a lack of due diligence, but the end result will surely be, without any doubt, AT THE EXPENSE OF ALREADY-STRUGGLING VERMONt HOUSEHOLDS AND BUSINESSES. GMP will not lose a dime, only face, and more and more of it every day.

    NOTE: Low CFs and grid issues are not just a NE problem. For the 5th year in a row, the three New Brunswick wind turbine plants (150 + 99 + 45 = 294 MW) have UNDERPERFORMED.

    In 2012, owner/vendor-promised production 904,000 MWh, for a CF of 0.35; actual production 694,000 MWh, for a CF of 0.27.

    The utility is not complaining, because the production shortfall enables it to buy energy from the grid at about 5.5 c/kWh, about half the price of 10.5 c/kWh it HAS to pay, by law, for wind energy!

    A fourth proposed wind turbine plant has been put on hold, because of grid reliability/coping issues.

    If I, and many others, knew the CF situation well before the PSB approval, and ISO-NE, GMP and many Vermont government entities knew of the NEK grid situation, why would the PSB ever think it prudent and rational to approve Lowell?

    • John Greenberg

      Willem,
      I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

      You comment appears to be based on the allegation that the Board approved the Lowell project based on a higher capacity factor than has been achieved: “GMP stated a CF of 0.338 and the PSB did not challenge it, approved the project …”

      Can you document that allegation please? I just skimmed through the Board’s order granting the project a Certificate of Public Good. (http://psb.vermont.gov/sites/psb/files/orders/2011/7628FinalOrder%20CPG%20Attachment%20A-2.pdf) I see nothing at all there about capacity factor.

      So exactly where did the Board consider the information that you say “GMP stated” and exactly how are you suggesting that it made use of that information in approving the project?

      You go a good deal further than this claim – far enough to suggest that “GMP and the Board may have engaged in politically-expedient collusion to make RE a reality to achieve the PLAN …”, but this second allegation is presumably predicated on the first, so let’s tackle them one at a time.

      • John,

        Below is an excerpt from a prior comment I made.

        Note the URL with GMP using a CF of 0.3587, even greater than the 0.338 calculated from the Lowell annual energy production stated on the DPS SPEED website.

        CEA taking 0.33 from “Vermont sources” (see Note), who planned to financially benefit from wind energy is professionally inexcusable, as the DOE, the EIA, the NREL and the AWEA never made a 0.33 claim for the Northeast AT THAT TIME, and not now.

        The Lowell Mountain ridge line happened to be for sale/available, but it has little exceptional to recommend itself as being particularly windy, i.e., GMP’s CF of 0.3587 is unexplainable and the PSB’s rubber-stamping it is a violation of a Public Trust, crony-capitalism, IMHO.

        http://vce.org/2011-6-20_ALB-CFT_First_Comments_GMP_Filings(7628).pdf

        Note: Blittersdorf would likely be one of “Vermont sources”, as he is a wind turbine owner of Georgia Mountain, and the wind guru helping write the VPIRG report.

        • John Greenberg

          Willem:
          This response doesn’t even speak to my questions. I asked you “exactly where did the Board consider the information that you say “GMP stated” and exactly how are you suggesting that it made use of that information in approving the project?” I’m still asking.

          • John,

            According to the above URL (a filing with the PSB), GMP claimed:

            – a CF of 0.3587, because it was using a larger rotor which required greater capital expenditure (and would make more noise, especially health-harmful LFN and infrasound), and

            – it would lower the levelized wind energy cost below 10 c/kWh.

            Can you imagine what that cost would be, if the on-average CFs turned out to be about 0.25, even WITH the $10.5 million synchronous-converter plant, and a life of 20 years vs the vendor/GMP-claimed 25 years?

            The 0.3587 compares with the implied CF of 0.338 calculated from the Lowell annual energy production on the DPS SPEED website.

            Both CFs are far beyond any production CFs in Pennsylvania, New York State and New England and far beyond any claims by the DOE, the EIA, the NREL and the AWEA for the Northeast AT THAT TIME, and not now.

            If I, and many others, knew the CF situation well before the PSB approvals, and ISO-NE, GMP and many Vermont government entities knew of the NEK grid situation, why would the PSB ever think it prudent and rational to approve Lowell, small rotor or large rotor, other than advancing the irrational-fantasy PLAN?

          • John Greenberg

            Willem,

            My questions shouldn’t be all that difficult to answer, if there’s any substance to your claims. Yet, you’re still not answering them.

            I assume that when you refer to the “above URL (a filing with the PSB),” you are referring to this://vce.org/2011-6-20_ALB-CFT_First_Comments_GMP_Filings(7628).pdf, which is “Craftsbury and Albany’s First Set of Comments on the Petitioner’s Post-CPG Filing.” As its title implies, this document was filed AFTER the CPG was granted.

            In any case, this filing doesn’t support ANY of the claims you made. In particular, you wrote: “GMP stated a CF of 0.338,” but this document says “The Petitioners avoid any discussion regarding how these increases in costs affect the economic benefits of this Project by claiming that the capacity factor increases from 28.42% to 35.78% –
            with no other changes to the projected revenue to displace these increased costs.” (p.3) No references are provided to show where GMP is supposed to have made these claims, but in any case neither of the 2 figures offered here corresponds to yours.

            Additionally, these comments go on to claim “… if the capacity factor does not increase by what Petitioners [GMP] now claim, [these costs] would have a drastic impact on the economic viability of this Project, and the purported economic benefits that formed a basis for the Board’s issuance of a CPG,” (p.4), but again, nothing in the text further substantiates this claim and in skimming the CPG order itself, I found NO claims about capacity factor. The Board’s discussion is on pages 32-40 of its order.(entered 5/31/201). Most of the economic claims the Board accepted appear to concern things like tourism, taxes, jobs, etc.

            In short, the document doesn’t support your first claim, and it doesn’t say anything at all about the second or third: “the PSB did not challenge it, approved the project.”

            So, for the third time, I ask: “exactly where did the Board consider the information that you say “GMP stated” and exactly how are you suggesting that it made use of that information in approving the project?” Surely, it’s a fair question, given your oft repeated claims here and elsewhere.

  • John,
    “Germans are known for many things, but “unrealistic fantasizing” is usually not among them.”

    Did they not start WW-I and WW-II?

    Was not their goal Deutschland Uberall?

    No unrealistic fantasizing?

    Recently, their Energiewende has become (or has been made into) an issue of national pride (just Google it), because they think, if they fail or give up on it, there will be no end to the schadefreude by other nations, and other nations will think less of their vaunted technological prowess going forward.

    Here is how Germany plans to do it:

    – Reducing CO2 emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050

    – Increasing the relative share of renewable energy in gross energy consumption to 18% by 2020, 30% by 2030 and 60% by 2050

    – Increasing the relative share of renewable energy in gross electrical consumption to 35% by 2020 and 80% by 2050

    – Increasing the national energy efficiency by cutting electrical consumption 50% below 2008 levels by 2050

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Germany

    The German electrical goals appear vastly more credible than the goals of the CEP based on unrealistic fantasizing, which would require a major restructuring of Vermont’s economy, costing tens of billions of dollars, by 2050.

    That restructuring formed the basis for the McKenna and Blittersdorf estimates of Vermont’s electrical consumption INCREASING from 6,000 GWh/yr to 15,000 to 18,000 GWh/yr, respectively by 2050.

    No state or nation, including Germany and California, envisions such restructuring requiring such an INCREASE in electrical consumption to “fight global warming/do something about climate change”, other than Vermont.

  • Wayne Andrews

    There is nothing wrong with ISO’s decision to bypass the windmills due to transmission restraints. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I see this all the time with the dreamers whose idea trumps study.
    Another good example of this thinking is the new fire code regulations which require larger feed capabilities than what Vermont’s hydrology will supply to a structure.
    We need to seriously look at the environmental oppositions to these projects whose one-sided approach is not in the best interest of the people.
    I am no Shumlin fan however I respect the head man for taking some of these enviro groups to task.

  • Pete Novick

    “Stephen Rourke, vice president of system planning for ISO New England, said the problem with the northern tier of Vermont’s grid is that there are numerous large-scale renewable energy projects feeding into a low voltage section of the transmission network.”

    No kidding?

    There is a ton of analysis available on the huge problem of connecting (relatively) low voltage renewable energy power sources to the otherwise (mostly) high voltage grid. ISO NE steps up voltage in the grid to improve efficiency (and save money).

    Best solution I see is to attach gondolas to the ends of the Lowell wind turbine blades and open an amusement park.

    Peanuts, popcorn….!

    • Kathy Leonard

      “the problem with the northern tier of Vermont’s grid is that there are numerous large-scale renewable energy projects feeding into a low voltage section of the transmission network.”

      This is why we should be looking to grow distributed energy. Perhaps nobody gets rich quick with distributed energy but it would provide less expensive, more resilient and reliable, local energy production. Off-grid and grid-tied homes, neighborhood and municipal solar projects, parking lot and commercial roof solar in every county would reflect Vermont’s self-reliant character without necessitating some ‘deal’ to sell it or send profits elsewhere.

    • Pete,

      And 24/7 heavily-subsidized EB-5 water slides in the NEK to use up the heavily-subsidized variable, intermittent wind energy to avoid sending it to the NEK grid.

      People from all over the world will come to marvel at the 8th or 9th wonder of the world: Wind energy powered water slides. Vermont truly a leader.

  • Paul Denton

    What most amazes me about this whole farce is how totally predictable all of this was. Surely GMP, the PSD and the Public Service Board KNEW about all of these limitations before giving the project a certificate of public good.

    If they didn’t, that raises a whole set of even more disturbing questions about their basic competence.

    But what good were all the hearings and studies and commissions if they didn’t figure out that the basic infrastructure wasn’t up to handling the power produced? That wind resources would be shut off in favor of awesomely inefficient diesel generators because the power isn’t reliable enough?

    The questions here go beyond just wind power. If the way we make decisions about energy is fatally flawed that’s a disaster of another magnitude.

  • Guy Page

    First of all, thanks Digger for providing the news coverage AND the comment platform. It’s like watching the Red Sox and hearing post-game analysis, all in one!

    There is so much bad energy policy-making here…..

    First, why hasn’t curtailment been a well-known public issue? I understand that it was discussed in the regulatory process, so perhaps the fault is ours, caveat emptor applies to news consumers as well. But the State of Vermont in its role as chief advocate for the ratepayer should have, in effect, “disclosed” this not-so-little downside of Lowell Mountain. But no, it was pedal to the metal, don’t rain on the parade, etc.

    Second, why aren’t the governor and his energy policy makers correcting this problem for current and future energy sitings – in effect saying “we will never allow the possibility of curtailment to be underplayed again?”. Instead they are leaving it to the press to speculate and ask this very common-sense question. They should be out front in accountablity: “we made the problem, and here’s how we’ll fix it”; instead they are insisting that ISO change how it operates. This is yet another case of an elected official making public statements insisting that the technical experts do things differently. This may play well to the base, but it is counterproductive in terms of real energy reliability.

    Third, the governor’s recommendations, if acted on, could lead to serious grid instability. ISO has sketched out the basic problem: you, Vermont, put an eight cylinder engine [high-peaking power producer] into a lawnmower [low-capacity transmission grid]. Rev it up and the whole thing shakes apart. The governor is saying, well, let it shake, just tighten up the bolts a little and everything will be okay.

    For years the State of Vermont has been acting like they are the boss of the sandbox. Don’t like the federal government’s oversight? Call them names and ignore them. Don’t like low-carbon, low-cost power producers owned by a company in Louisiana? Call them names too and try to put them out of business. Don’t like the restrictions on transmission imposed by physics and enforced ISO New England? Demand that they be changed.

    In each case, the impartial authorities governing law, energy and science have held up their hands and said “halt, go no further.”

    Let’s hope the synchronous condenser really solves the grid problem and that, somehow, the ratepayer is not severely affected. But even if both of these problems are happily resolved, we will still ask the question: where was the communications breakdown that allowed curtailment to become an issue only after it had happened several times?

    Vermont’s power should be reliable and affordable. It seems that any proposed fix to the problem of overloading the northern grid will adversely impact reliability, affordability, or both.

    • John Greenberg

      Guy:

      Your comments imply that Shumlin’s letter assertively blames ISO-NE and then proposes recommendations which could lead to serious grid instability.

      Neither claim has any basis in the letter I just read (http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/interactive/article/20130729/NEWS03/130729012/PDF-Gov-Peter-Shumlin-s-letter-ISO-New-England), which is respectful, forward looking, and technically well within bounds as far as I understand this stuff.

      The heart of the letter is this paragraph: “ISO New England has previously noted deficiencies in the transmission grid surrounding Kingdom Community Wind and elsewhere in the region where curtailments have occurred. I urge ISO-NE to consider whether its planning assumptions used for approval of projects align well with its operation assumptions, and whether it could do more to integrate and fully utilize renewable resources into its grid operations, including during times of peak demand where use of other more expensive and dirtier resources may be avoided. Vermont has a clear preference for renewable resources and would have preferred that the local renewable energy produced by this utility-owned resource had been used to meet regional power needs in the Northeast Kingdom and surrounding communities where homes and businesses were also experiencing a period of high demand last week.”

      It’s important to recognize that ISO-NE has expressed concern for years about integrating renewable resources into the grid, so the governor is not raising a new question. Nor is he asking ISO-NE to “put an eight cylinder engine [high-peaking power producer] into a lawnmower [low-capacity transmission grid].” Indeed, the letter acknowledges the issue right at the outset: “While I understand ISO-NE’s reliability mission, I urge you to ensure that it is exercised with clear regard for the clean energy goals of Vermont and the region.”

      Instead, it sounds to me like the governor is asking ISO-NE to recognize the State’s priorities when considering how to overcome obstacles in the existing grid, something ISO-NE agrees it needs to do in any case. Lord knows I’m no expert in this stuff, but from everything I’ve read, there is widespread recognition that the New England grid, like the rest of the US grid, is antiquated and in need of upgrading. Indeed, the federal government – which you seem to think gets it right on these issues – has poured literally billions of dollars into improvements of the grid for just this reason, and ISO-NE is constantly studying (and making) upgrades to its system, INCLUDING accommodation of intermittent renewable resources.

      Three more points. First, curtailment has, as you note, occurred more than once, but the usual reason is precisely the opposite of what occurred in this instance: namely, that the wind is blowing at a time when power is NOT needed. In this instance, the wind was blowing, the power WAS needed, but ISO-NE chose a dirtier generator to supply it. (Its decision appears to have been influenced, at least in part, by the LOCATION of the diesel generators it called on, so it may have been justified in whole or in part by the difference in location). But the point is that this instance is NOT a repeat of what occurred previously.

      Second, you and others seem astonished that as Vermont begins to implement a new energy technology, problems arise. From this not-very-surprising premise, you appear to want to leap to the conclusion that the technology should be abandoned. And yet you are an ardent support of Vermont Yankee, which had major problems during the 1970s when it first went online, from leaking fuel rods to a hopping torus. Surely, using your own criteria, we should have abandoned that plant during its first few years. (And VY’s problems weren’t at all unique, so using your reasoning, we should have abandoned nuclear technology altogether).

      Finally, nothing you write seems to justify your dark conclusion that “ANY proposed fix to the problem of overloading the northern grid will adversely impact reliability, affordability, or both.” (emphasis added) I suspect that’s because there IS no justification for it and that the conclusion is gratuitous, but I’ll let you show me the error of my ways.

      • John,
        “In this instance, the wind was blowing, the power WAS needed, but ISO-NE chose a dirtier generator to supply it.”

        ISO-NE’s first concern is not clean or dirty, but grid stability, especially during stressful conditions due to high demand.

        A cascading failure condition would have many thousands of people and businesses without energy, including, for example, a Rutland Regional Medical Center.

        ISO-NE’s engineers chose STABLE, high-quality, diesel-generator energy, instead of variable, intermittent, low-quality, wind turbine energy.

        As we all know by now, Lowell’s energy is curtailed because it is VARIABLE voltage energy and because, frequently, there is too much of it for the NEK grid.

        The $10.5 million synchronous-condenser plant, which consumes about 3% of Lowell’s output, and has its own O&M, will solve only a small part of the above problems.

        A major rebuild of the NEK grid, at least $100 million, would be required to fully accommodate multiple wind turbine plants.

        The energy would still need to be balanced by OTHER quick-ramping generators, inefficiently operating in part-load-ramping mode.

  • John,

    Here are some excerpts of the URL which covers a brief prepared by Jared M. Margolis.
    http://vce.org/2011-6-20_ALB-CFT_First_Comments_GMP_Filings(7628)

    “Comments on Attachment A – Docket No. 7628 Kingdom Community Wind Project, Description of Project Changes – and Revised Budget”

    Comments were made on “Attachment A”, which contains GMPs claims, but it is not attached to the above URL.

    “The revised budget for the Project shows that the Petitioners (GMP) are now claiming a 35.78% capacity factor, which is unheard of in the industry, and not supported by the testimony in this Docket.”

    Even CFs of 0.33 were unheard of until it came from “Vermont Sources” to the CEA report and the VPIRG report, both of which are likely gathering dust on shelves.

    Both CFs are far beyond any production CFs in Pennsylvania, New York State and New England and far beyond any claims by the DOE, the EIA, the NREL and the AWEA for the Northeast.

    The DOE, the EIA, the NREL and the AWEA never made a 0.33 claim for the Northeast, but GMP claims an even greater number, i.e., 0.3587!

    “The Petitioners avoid any discussion regarding how these increases in costs affect the economic benefits of this Project by claiming that the capacity factor increases from 28.42% to 35.78% – with no other changes to the projected revenue to displace these increased costs.”

    I had seen the CF of 28.42% in the above URL, but it is at variance with the estimated production data on the DPS SPEED website which implies a CF of 33.8%, which I have used in my articles as the GMP number.

    GMP went to the larger diameter rotor, at a great increase in various costs, as stated in the above URL, to improve the economics, but likely worsened the economics, because with the larger rotors, the turbines spacing became too small, worsening flow interference.

    And because the turbine upstream terrain is irregular, the upstream air flow is already disturbed! A double whammy!

    With the actual production so much less, and the $10.5 million synchronous-condenser plant solving only a small part of the curtailment/NEK stability problem, and Connecticut no longer allowing Vermont RECs to be used by its utilities and other entities to delay doing something about their CO2 emissions, the Lowell economics become very bleak indeed.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

    But, as a regulated utility, GMP is entitled to earn a maximum return on assets, i.e., it will only lose face.

    Per PSB approvals, all its Lowell costs, plus any additional costs of, say, about 5 million per year, will be “recovered”, i.e., socialized, by an increase in the electric rates of already-struggling households and businesses.

    “Comments on the Petitioners’ Supplement to the Aesthetic Assessment of the Proposed Kingdom Community Wind Project.”

    Comments were made on the “Supplement”, as you mention, but it is not attached to the above URL.

    • John Greenberg

      Willem:
      You still haven’t answered my questions, which simply ask you to provide documentation for your own assertions. Accordingly, they shouldn’t be hard to answer; they’re not trick questions.

      First, the document we now agree you’ve linked to is clearly NOT the source of YOUR figure, as apparently you now agree, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing it up here. The figures used in the actual PSB case, taking the document at face value, may be, as you suggest “at variance with the estimated production data on the DPS SPEED website which implies a CF of 33.8%” (no link provided), but that does NOT support your statement that “GMP stated a CF of 0.338” in the case before the PSB. In fact, it directly contradicts it.

      Second, the document implies that GMP actually relied on a CF of 28.42%, which, by the way, is virtually identical to the DOE’s 28% estimate for New England (“2011 Wind Technologies Market Report,” p. 46).

      Additionally, claims of 33-35.78% are not “far beyond any production CFs in Pennsylvania, New York State and New England….” In fact, the actual capacity factor at Mars Hill, ME @ 36.13% for 2012, according to data YOU provide (http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated), but here as elsewhere, you simply ignore data that doesn’t accord with your preconceptions.

      In short, the document to which you’re linking does not support your claims, nor, in fact, does your own data.

      Third, since you didn’t address the issues I raised about utility regulation above, I can only assume that you recognize that your claim about GMP’s being “entitled to earn a maximum return on assets” is, at best, questionable, as is the claim that “all its Lowell costs, plus any additional costs of, say, about 5 million per year, will be “recovered,” since all of this is subject to future PSB rate cases in which GMP will need to prove that its assets and costs are “prudent” and “used and useful.” (See our dialogue above: July 29, 9:36 AM to 12:12 PM) I won’t repeat the discussion.

      Finally, the document to which you link does not support the rest of your claim that “… the PSB did not challenge it, approved the project …”

      So, for the fourth time: “exactly where did the Board consider the information that you say “GMP stated” and exactly how are you suggesting that it made use of that information in approving the project? “ Perhaps this time, you could just answer the questions, without providing still more questionable and irrelevant claims, or admit, as appears to be the case, that your claims are without foundation in fact.

      • John,

        Someone must have provided the DPS with the Lowell production (MWh/yr) stated on the DPS SPEED website.

        That production number yields a CF = 0.338, the number I used in my articles.

        I was not aware of the 0.2842 (small rotor) and the 0.3578 (large rotor) until recently, as a result of a comment by Annette. I, and others, maybe even the PSB and DPS, do not know how GMP arrived at these CF numbers.

        To my knowledge, and as stated in below URL, only ONE, (Mars Hill in Maine) has CFs of about 0.36. It was one of the first wind plants in Maine; the best sites are taken first!!

        Almost ALL wind turbine plants in Pennsylvania (17 plants), New York State (19 plants), New Brunswick, Canada (3 plants) and New England (about 8 plants, including Mars Hill) have CFs in the range of 0.25-0.30, some less than 0.25.

        GMP provided the Lowell CFs to the PSB, per the brief of Margolis. Whereas the 0.2842 appears rational, the 0.3578 is not, as Lowell has no special features to make it a high CF site. It just happened the ridge was for sale and GMP bought it for its Lowell project.

        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

        • John Greenberg

          Willem,

          In short, as I suspected, you have NO documentation for your claims.

          I have NO idea what capacity factor numbers GMP presented to the Board, if any, or whether those numbers played any significant role in permitting the project. What’s now apparent is this: neither do you. The difference is that you pretend to, and I freely admit to having no knowledge.

          I try very hard to make no claims in public writing that I cannot fully document and defend or, on the rare occasions when I do go beyond what I know, to be very clear that I am doing just that.

          • John,

            MARGOLIS obtained the CFs of 0.2842 and 0.3578 from PSB documents, as he states in his brief TO THE PSB; would he be deliberately misstating?

            There is YOUR documentation of the CFs given by GMP to the PSB.

            I do not know, if the PSB questioned them or used them as a basis for approval for the CPG.

            By now, we all know, the PSB did not sufficiently consider NEK grid limitations regarding multiple wind plants in the NEK.

            A lack of due diligence? Maybe even malfeasance, i.e., knowing the NEK grid limitations (which many people knew, including ISO-NE, David Hallquist, GMP, etc.) and approve Lowell anyway, just for GMP to collect subsidies before the end of 2012, and drive forward a politically-motivated, irrational-fantasy PLAN for 2050, that will put Vermont’s low/no growth economy, and already-struggling households, and businesses, in an expensive energy straight jacket.

            By now, we all know, the PSB did not sufficiently consider sound levels as well, based on the many complaints from nearby people, even though GMP crows about meeting the 45 dBA, which is grossly too high; 40 dBA at THE PROJECT PROPERTY LINE would be a better standard.

            Maine uses 42 dBA and Denmark a much lower level, and people are STILL complaining.

            Relatively recently, I learned about the above CFs from an Annette comment.

            When writing my articles, I assumed the production numbers on the SPEED DPS site were the operative production numbers, and from them I CALCULATED the 0.338 I used in my articles.

            NOTE: Data about the projected performance of heavily-subsidized wind turbine plants is usually not public information, but it should be because of the public subsidies involved.

            I have no information who provided DPS with the Lowell production numbers on the SPEED DPS site.

            If I had been aware, and had used the 0.3578, the numbers in my article would have looked even worse for GMP’s Lowell project, which currently manages CFs of about 0.17-0.20.

            The ISO-NE-required, $10.5 million, synchronous-converter plant will solve only a small part of the CF problem.

            We will all see just how much in 2014.

            If Maine wind turbine plants are a guide, Lowell’s annual CFs will “improve” to about 0.25, well short of 0.3587.

            It is like buying a car and the salesman says it will get 36 MPG, but it gets only 25 MPG.

          • Lance Hagen

            John, why on earth are you making such a big issue over Willem providing a documented source for capacity factor numbers GMP used for Lowell Mountain?

            Just go to the GMP web site:

            http://www.greenmountainpower.com/upload/photos/236KCW_QA_Feb_2013_FINAL.pdf

            For 21, 3 MW Vesta V112 turbines GMP is claiming these will provide 186,000 MWh annually.

            CP = (186,000 / (3x21x365x24)) = 33.7 %

            I think GMP’s published numbers supports Willem claim.

            So do the math and quit being a ‘dink’ over this minor issue!

          • Annette Smith

            Fortunately Luke Snelling at Energize Vermont archived all the filings in the Lowell/GMP PSB proceedings. You can find them all here
            http://energizevermont.org/2010/01/lowell-vt-green-mountain-power-kingdom-community-wind-information/

            There wouldn’t be a need for a non-profit to be the resource for the case if 1) the PSB website was complete and kept updated and 2) GMP had not taken down their site with all the filings.

            So have at it, go digging and find what your’e looking for. It’s all there.

            Lance’s calculations are based on each turbine being 3 MW, but it turned out post-CPG that the Vestas v112s each are rated more than 3 MW, hence GMP told the PSB the capacity factor would be 35.78%.

            During technical hearings, the PSB considered a capacity factor of about 28%, based on the potential use of 2.5 or 3 MW turbines. It was not until after the CPG was issued that PSB chose the bigger Vestas v112 turbines. This is all well documented in the record.

            The link that I posted that Willem refers to was filed post-CPG and appropriately asked the Board to hold further hearings on the changes that the larger turbines made to noise, aesthetic and economic analyses that the Board had considered previously. In any normal proceeding the Board would have held another hearing. However, this was not a normal proceeding, and now a lot of people are correctly questioning how the PSB could have permitted a project based on GMP’s “trust us” request, rather than fully vetting the issues.

            GMP said the economics would work because the bigger turbines would produce more power. The PSB said okay.

            GMP said the bigger turbines producing at a higher capacity factor would make up for the fact that the bigger turbines cost $20 million more. The PSB said okay.

            GMP said the bigger turbines would produce at a higher capacity factor, even though testimony was presented in the hearings that there were grid constraints based on lower capacity factors and turbines with lower power output. The PSB wasn’t interested in hearing how the higher capacity factor might affect the grid.

            I agree with Michael Colby. Isn’t there a role here for some oversight and investigation of the PSB? Attorney General Sorrell, are you listening?

          • John Greenberg

            Willem & Lance:

            Let’s take this one step at a time, hopefully for the last time.

            1) Willem originally wrote: “GMP stated a CF of 0.338.” Now he says;” MARGOLIS obtained the CFs of 0.2842 and 0.3578 from PSB documents, as he states in his brief TO THE PSB; would he be deliberately misstating? There is YOUR documentation of the CFs given by GMP to the PSB.” The problem is that what is claimed as documentation doesn’t document the figure provided, it contradicts it: 28.42% isn’t 33%; neither is 35.78%.

            2) Willem also wrote: “the PSB did not challenge it, approved the project …” Now he says: “I do not know, if the PSB questioned them or used them as a basis for approval for the CPG.”

            3) Lance asks: “why on earth are you making such a big issue over Willem providing a documented source for capacity factor numbers GMP used for Lowell Mountain?” He then does a calculation which supports the number Willem arrived at, but which, like Willem’s number, does NOT jibe with the numbers the Margolis brief says were provided to the Board.

            Annette effectively answers Lance’s question, for which I thank her: “Lance’s calculations are based on each turbine being 3 MW, but it turned out post-CPG that the Vestas v112s each are rated more than 3 MW, hence GMP told the PSB the capacity factor would be 35.78”

            The issue I’ve been trying to get at, Lance and Willem, is credibility: when you make representations in public comment columns, readers should be able to believe their factual basis. When they don’t, they certainly have a right to question it, which is precisely what I’ve done here.

            In this instance, what we’ve discovered – finally — is that there is NO factual basis for the statements. The first, not to put too fine a point on it, is wrong; and the second, is pure speculation, which Willem finally admits he can’t document (“I don’t know….”)

            As to what difference it makes – ““why on earth are you making such a big issue” – I’ve been trying to get at the now clearly questionable assumption that when someone claiming expertise says something which purports to be factual, that it actually IS factual.

            If asserted “facts” are not actually factual, then rational discussion is impossible: if I base my “analysis” on a set of assertions which are, in fact, false, then there’s a very great likelihood that the conclusions I draw from these assertions will be false as well. Our civic discussions will either be based on facts which can be discerned and shared objectively – and yes Lance, DOCUMENTED – or they will be based, as the discussion of wind turbines in Vermont has been, on a series of false, or at best partially-true allegations. If we want to get to the truth of a matter, then we must do so from the outset, and we must proceed with caution throughout.

            Let’s apply that to the specific instance at hand. The PSB DID, indeed, grant a permit to Lowell. That much we all know and agree about.

            Willem has argued – repeatedly and at length – that the decision was based on a capacity factor of 33%, and that, because the permit has now been granted, GMP WILL be allowed to pass through any additional costs of the project due to what Willem deems its misrepresentation to ratepayers. (He goes on to still further allegations about the motivations of the Board, the political allegiances of Board members, and so forth, but I’ll keep this simple).

            The question is this: is any of this actually correct?

            I want to emphasize yet again that I’m not a utility lawyer and I have not followed the Lowell case at all diligently, but my understanding of the actual facts is this. The CPG was granted on the basis of the criteria in section 248, and when it came to the economic basis of the project, the Board focused mostly on its NON-rate impacts. If the CF played any part at all in the decision, which, from skimming the order is not obvious, then the part played certainly appears to have been quite small. In short, the permit was granted on bases OTHER THAN the CF Mr. Post repeatedly asserts.

            My guess is that’s because there will be rate cases, subsequently, in which GMP will be required to show that its investments in the Lowell assets were prudent before it can enter them into its rate base at all, and also that they are “used and useful.” (Assets not included in a utility’s rate base do not earn ANY rate of return).

            My guess – and I emphasize that’s what it is – is that if any of the other parties convincingly shows that capacity factors were significantly overestimated and especially if it can be shown that GMP should have known this (or far worse, that the company DID know it), the Board may well either disallow at least a portion of the costs and/or disallow a portion of the assets from being introduced into the utility’s rate base.

            If what I’ve just suggested is, in fact, correct, then Willem’s argument is wrong from one end to the other. The Board did grant the permit, but NOT on the basis of a spurious capacity factor. If the capacity factor does indeed prove to be spurious, then the Board CAN charge any differences to GMP shareholders rather than to its ratepayers. As stated in my comments above, this has happened in other cases, specifically Seabrook and the old HQ contracts.

            Whether the Board WILL do is, of course, another question, which (hopefully) will depend at least in part on whether or not the facts are or are not as Willem suggests. If, for example, the Board granted the permit based on 28% and the project achieves a CF at or around that, then there would be no basis for them to disallow costs.
            The answer to Lance’s question then as to why this matters is this: if it matters to you that a whole set of allegations purporting to be based on the facts may be, in fact, totally at variance with what is really the case, then the exercise we’ve just been through will have been worthwhile.

            On the other hand, perhaps you’re perfectly happy to base your conclusions on spurious “facts” and groundless arguments and throw in a few ad-hominem attacks (in the comments on this article, I’ve been called “sly, old,” pompous, small (Post: “Some small people”) and a ‘dink’). Clearly, there’s more than one way to conduct public debate.

            To sum up, it DOES matter to me – a great deal, in fact — whether or not we can debate issues on a rational basis; it appears to matter a good deal less to Lance and Willem. After all, we’ve all had this discussion before, with very similar results. When these discussions happen not just once, but time and time again, I think it’s fair to draw the obvious inferences about credibility.

  • Wayne Andrews

    Well stated Mr. Page.

  • Don Peterson

    We rely on government to administer large scale projects in a way that furthers the interests of human beings, not large corporations. The Public Service Department, the Public Service Board, and the legislature have all let us down in the case of KCW. There was enough testimony for regulators to have been alerted to the impending disaster that has occurred on Lowell Mtn.

    Besotted by the lure of federal money, they rewrote the rules to favor a project that no one properly understood.

    The final scene in the play is Peter Shumlin commanding the wind to blow.

    This is a dark chapter in citizen government.

  • Lance,

    Thank you for your comment. The DPS has that number on its SPEED website.

    What John is doing is trying to discredit me, but every time he tries, I come back with more information which make it more difficult to discredit me.

    I do respect his intelligence and persistence.

    Some small people often make mountains out of mole hills.

  • Annette Smith

    From the PSB docket in the Lowell wind case, this is the surrebuttal testimony of the Department of Public Service’s witness, filed one month before the technical hearings. It was archived as a Zipped file so I threw it up on VCE’s site for sharing: http://www.vce.org/DPS St Peter – Surrebuttal Testimony-FINAL.pdf

    Some translation might be necessary. “PTF treatment” is what GMP was arguing for, they wanted the cost of the synchronous condenser (in the document it’s estimated at $15 million) to be shared, or socialized, among all ISO-NE users. ISO-NE objected. That was one of the issues.

    The relatively short testimony is worth reading as it shows what was known and what was not known, as presented to the PSB by GMP. Keep in mind there was prefiled Direct testimony, Rebuttal testimony and Surrebuttal testimony (this was the third, Surrebuttal), so by then these issues would have expected to have been much further along. That is one of the purposes of this rigorous PSB process which exists in no other court in the state. It presumably provides the opportunity to flesh out issues like these.

    What this one document shows is that in this case the process failed. The Department’s witness correctly notes: “It is troubling that these comparisons were apparently done in response to the
    Department’s earlier testimony, rather than before the petition was filed.”

    The one thing that was not archived by Energize Vermont were the transcripts of the technical hearings. This is a whole other problem with the PSB process. The only record that exists of the technical hearings is in the form of typewritten transcripts which are not available in the public record, except by reviewing them in person at the PSB offices. They were posted by Energize Vermont, but the court transcriptionists control them, not the PSB, and they demanded they be removed. So much for public process.

  • Annette,

    Your comment about the PSB and Lowell filings is very well presented and documented. I hope John G. will read your comment. I am glad Luke Snelling is keeping tabs on the GMP/PSB/DPS/Lowell fiasco.

    Keeping tabs may get increasingly more difficult with more hide-and-seek, as future, miserable production and project data likely will reveal the extend of the fiasco. Vermont a leader in glasnost?

    The members of the PSB have become enablers for politicians with agendas, instead of protecting the Vermont Public. It has become a Special Interest Service Board, SISB, performing “Constituent Service”, holding pro-forma hearings, “following the letter of the law”, with outcomes mostly preordained.

    The Democrat Party has near-absolute power over the government agenda. This leads to hubris and leads to people having irrational-fantasy ideas about what Vermont and Vermont’s economy should look like in 2050. The DPS 2011 CEP is a product of such hubris.

    There needs to be a clean sweep in Montpelier to have a material change. Hopefully people will get so fed up, they finally say enough is enough, and finally vote the decades-entrenched career culprits out of office.

    • John Greenberg

      All three members of the Board were appointed (or in one case, re-appointed) by Republican Governor Jim Douglas. Shumlin has (re-)appointed one member out of the 3.

  • Annette,
    Your revelation of the PSB hearing history regarding going to a larger rotor is very interesting.

    Because Lowell appears to be a relatively weak-wind ridge, and GMP wanted to improve the economics of the project to get the levelized energy cost below 10c/kWh (the PSB and DPS may have copies of the GMP spreadsheets), GMP decided the greater levelized (Owning+ O&M) cost for wind turbines with larger rotors, would be more than offset by the increased production.

    It looks like that increased production will not happen.

    The much lower production also means less RECs to be sold by GMP at 5.5 c/kWh to out-of-state entities, i.e., even more costs will be imposed on GMP rate payers.

    That infamous PSB-approved CVPS/GMP merger will cost former CVPS rate payers dearly, as they had $21 million of their money hijacked by the political process, and now they get their electric rates raised, because of GMP’s follies, which would not have happened had CVPS top management not sold.

    Original production = 63 MW x 8760 hr/yr x CF 0.2842 = 156,844 MWh/yr
    Production on DPS SPEED site = 63 x 8760 x 0.338 = 186,570 MWh/yr
    Large rotor production = 63 x 8760 x 0.3587 = 197,959 MWh/yr

    Note: The $10.5 million synchronous-condenser plant is about 97% efficient, i.e., will reduce the Lowell output by about 3%

    Here are the Lowell production numbers for the first 6 months. I used commas to separate the values and totaled it for 6 months.

    2013
    Lowell, 63 MW

    Month, Days, MWh, CF

    Jan, 31, 9484, 0.202
    Feb, 28, 9214, 0.218
    Mar, 31, 7835, 0.167
    Apr, 30, 7334, 0.162
    May, 31, 10469, 0.223
    Jun, 30, 8390, 0.185

    Total 181, 52726, 0.193

    Actual production is about 50% of the large rotor production. The S-C plant may bring the actual production up to about 0.25, similar to Maine, slightly greater than New York State.

  • Annette/Lance,

    “Lance’s calculations are based on each turbine being 3 MW, but it turned out post-CPG that the Vestas v112s each are rated more than 3 MW, hence GMP told the PSB the capacity factor would be 35.78%”.

    Original production = 63 MW x 8760 hr/yr x CF 0.2842 = 156,844 MWh/yr

    Production per DPS SPEED site = 63 x 8760 x 0.338 = 186,570 MWh/yr

    Large rotor production = 63 x 8760 x 0.3587 = 197,959 MWh/yr

    If, with the larger rotor, the 63 MW becomes greater, and the CF = 0.3587, then the 197,959 MWh/yr will be even greater;

    It appears, the 63 MW becoming greater is not credible, as any increase in production, due to the larger rotor, is already reflected in the CF of 0.3587.

    With the big rotor, I would like to know :

    – the new wind turbine rating (Vestas should have this),
    – the new performance curve (Vestas should have this),
    – the expected CF,
    – the expected annual production, MWh/yr.

    GMP, the PSB and DPS should all know this information and should have the GMP spreadsheets to support them.

    As GMP is a regulated PUBLIC utility, all its records should be public, including the Lowell spreadsheets.

  • John Greenberg

    Annette Smith and I rarely agree, so when we do, there are grounds for celebration.

    She writes: “There wouldn’t be a need for a non-profit to be the resource for the case if 1) the PSB website was complete and kept updated …” and later “This is a whole other problem with the PSB process. The only record that exists of the technical hearings is in the form of typewritten transcripts which are not available in the public record, except by reviewing them in person at the PSB offices. They were posted by Energize Vermont, but the court transcriptionists control them, not the PSB, and they demanded they be removed. So much for public process.”

    To be slightly clearer on the latter point, members of the public are invited to pay the court transcriptionists exorbitant fees (I can’t remember exactly what it is, but when we’re talking about the length of these transcripts, it ends up being a LOT of money) or, as Annette says, look at them at the PSB’s office.

    I’ve written to the Board and the Department about these issues, and invite others to do so as well.

    It’s actually a bit worse than Annette says. In the Vermont Yankee cases, I’ve filed as what I think the Board calls an “interested person” in order to be on the electronic mailing list of all the parties for ALL of the paperwork in the case (briefs, testimony, discovery, etc.) Over the years I’ve followed the case, I’ve found that my name has been dropped from various lists more than once, so that, from some parties, I’ve gotten some but not all documents. From the Board itself, I’ve received almost none, though randomly I receive a print copy of an order in the mail.

    There’s no rhyme or reason to any of this and it makes it exceedingly difficult to follow the case closely, especially as case as complex as this the VY case has been.

    To put it bluntly, this is lousy public process. If the Board’s orders and decisions are to have public credibility, then interested members of the public should be able to follow proceedings without jumping through hoops, without repeatedly asking parties to send documents, without having to search (often in vain) the Board website for documents which haven’t been posted, etc. In this day and age of electronic documentation, there is virtually no cost to this, if it were done right in the first place.

    Either the Board or DPS should maintain a master email service list for anyone who wants information for every docket before the Board. ALL of the information (other than confidential information filed under seal) should be available with ONE request. This should NOT be the responsibility of non-profit organizations like Energize Vermont or Annette’s; it should be part of Vermont’s official public process.

    Frankly, it’s in the Board’s and DPS’s interests to do this. A lot of misinformation floats around in the public sphere due to an almost complete lack of public understanding of the regulatory process.

    Regardless of one’s position on any of the substantive issues that come before the Board, I would hope that Vermonters could agree that this information should be made available to the public for free and in a way which makes it easy – even inviting – to participate in the process.

    Again, thanks are due to Annette for raising the issue.

    • Annette Smith

      If you’re interested in what a decent record looks like, the New Hampshire siting commission has an excellent site. All the current projects are here http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/current.htm and when you click on one of them, say the Antrim Wind docket, you get all the documents in the case, including letters, testimony, application, everything in chronological order
      http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/2012-01/index.htm

      This is website 101. Nothing hard about it. You just need one person dedicated to tossing things up on the web. Not highly technical, this is basic secretarial work.

      There has been legislation that VCE supported that would have gotten money for the PSB to improve their website, and that bill failed in the last session and is expected to be revived when the session resumes in January. But I really can’t understand why a new website is necessary to provide a complete record of all the filings in the case. The PSB’s basic site is adequate, they have major pending proceedings, they have a site for each case. Just put everything on one page the way the NH SEC does. This is not rocket science.

      The PSB’s process is so hostile to the public, it isn’t funny. If you are an intervenor in a wind case and post-CPG you need to complain about the noise levels, you are supposed to file copies to all the other parties, which in the Lowell wind case means mailing to 27 parties, plus 8 copies to the PSB. Neighbors who are intervenors who have simply filed a complaint to the Board via the clerk have been reprimanded and told that they must copy all the parties. If neighbors are not parties, they can file a public comment to the Board and not file copies to all the parties.

      The PSB has no enforcement capabilities so any issues that arise are dealt with via the whole process of pre-filed testimony, discovery, technical hearing, all very good for lawyers’ bottom lines, all nearly impossible for the public to participate in effectively without a lawyer and a lot of money.

      • Annette,
        We agree the PSB could learn some glasnost, but there are other departments, currently not so much in the spotlight, that lack glasnost similar to the PSB.

        Openness and transparency are words mentioned by people, but to put the effective procedures in place and have them monitored by an ombudsperson for continued effectiveness requires quite some administrative setup. As a result ad hoc has become the operative procedure by default.

        • Annette Smith

          Agreed, there are other Agencies and Departments failing in transparency.

          ANR’s customer is the regulated community, and staff meetings with developers and their experts are not open to the public, and hardly anyone writes anything down anymore, something we have learned through our regular public records requests. Mostly we get notes scheduling phone calls or meetings. Imagine scientists not taking notes! Didn’t used to be that way. The Douglas administration was much better by comparison, believe it or not.

          Permits get issued with at most a public hearing and written public comment period, resulting in a responsiveness summary that often ignores all the public’s comments. Appeals go to Environmental Court, and are expensive, requiring discovery, depositions, lawyers and experts. ANR keep saying they are doing something to develop an administrative record, no idea what is happening with that.

          ANR’s job is to issue permits to pollute or, in the case of the Fish & Wildlife Department, to kill things like endangered species.

          The Health Department is a whole other problem, which may be explained by something I learned recently, that 80% of the Vermont Department of Health’s funding comes from the CDC.

      • John Greenberg

        Thanks for this Annette. Do you know the bill number and sponsors? Thanks.

        • Annette Smith

          By the end of the session, it was S. 25 (with H. 39 add-ons).

          H.39 was the original PSB bill.

          You’ll have to do some hunting to find the final versions of both House and Senate bills. I just looked and suggest you start with H.39. Sponsors are listed on each bill.

          From VCE’s notes from the session’s end: “Unfortunately, House and Senate leaders were not able to resolve differences about the bill, though what those differences were was never entirely clear.”

          This legislation was strongly supported by Public Service Department Commissioner Chris Recchia, and will presumably be revived in January.

          • John Greenberg

            Thanks Annette.

  • Matt Fisken

    Lance, thanks for posting the link to the GMP Q&A.

    I noticed this:

    “Will sound monitoring include infrasound?
    Infrasound is audio frequencies below the level of human hearing. Infrasound commonly occurs in nature from numerous sources including surf, aurora borealis, solar flares, and thunderstorms. After extensive testimony from sound experts, the PSB concluded that the wind turbines are NOT LIKELY to emit AUDIBLE or PERCEIVABLE infrasound. As a result, the Board did not require monitoring for infrasound.” (emphasis added)

    This may be the finest example of using weasel words I’ve ever seen. By saying “not likely” the door wide open for people to experience the biological effects of infrasound while providing GMP a convenient out to say, “whoops! you’re the rare case!” Then, qualifying infrasound as “audible” or “perceivable” is like saying “The furnace is not likely to emit odorous or noticeable carbon monoxide. As a result, the technician did not require a CO alarm to be installed.”

    re: Ad Hominem attacks:

    1. When one’s style of debate is sometimes borderline aggressive, it should not be a huge surprise when others start name calling. It’s a slippery slope on which some of us might have not have a problem dishing it but not like getting it in return.

    2. Publicly questioning someone’s credibility, after they’ve fairly accurately predicted an outcome of a complicated issue they’ve spent a great deal of time selflessly researching, simply because that person doesn’t know everything or got a detail or two wrong could easily be considered an unwarranted attack in and of itself. To suggest that so-and-so cares much less about having a rational debate than we ourselves does not help make our own case and accusing others of hominem attacks doesn’t necessarily make them ad hominem attacks. If they are, I think you can rest assured that they (usually) won’t get past the VT Digger moderators.

    3. It is not an ad hominem attack to point out someone’s conflict of interest(s) (not to say anyone has done this in this forum… just saying).

    As far as this discussion goes, it is almost invariable that those who support or have no issue with industrial wind development are opposed to nuclear power and those who support or have no issue with nuclear power are opposed to industrial wind. Some of us have no dog in this fight and are simply trying to get our heads around these interconnected issues that seem hopelessly out of our hands. Some might view both technologies to be “here to stay,” so we might as well figure out how to do both in the most scalable, least disruptive and most decommissionable way possible, and, if possible, try to remain open-minded and courteous.

    I was recently trying to explain to someone that debates are always clouded by our own filters and personal experiences. As a lighthearted way to illustrate this idea, I provided Ballance’s Law of Relativity which goes, “the length of a minute varies depending on which side of the bathroom door you’re on” to which this person responded, “No it doesn’t!” I suppose if there were a third person (or God) there as a witness, who was not using or about to use the bathroom, it could be confirmed that exactly a minute passed on both sides of the door. Obviously, the point I was trying to make is that we can never know what it is like to be someone else with their unique set of thoughts, experiences, goals, needs, etc. But, that should not stop us from trying to explain ourselves or understand where others are coming from.

    Regardless of who said what and when regarding capacity factors leading up to the buildout of KCW, I hope everyone can agree that this project represents one of the most significant gambles ever made in the State of Vermont. It’s one thing to gamble with your own money, but it’s totally different when you’re gambling with taxpayer and ratepayer money and when the stakes are not just monetary but involve the health and wellbeing of Vermonters and the environment. That’s the point Willem Post has very successfully made time and time again regarding KCW. Having thoroughly made the point that we all should choose our words carefully with utmost consideration of the facts (and others’ feelings and foibles), I appreciate John Greenberg’s contributions here as well.

    (Thanks to VT Digger too!)

    • Don Peterson

      Well put Mr. Fisken.

      Long dry posts about process and procedure keep people who might want to learn more at a distance, and dont raise the common level of understanding. They are hard to read, and no one likes to see hectoring occur.

      The more people know about IWT the better. Blogs are a specific type of communication; IMHO to be effective posts are better left short and sweet.

    • John Greenberg

      Matt Fisken writes: “It’s one thing to gamble with your own money, but it’s totally different when you’re gambling with taxpayer and ratepayer money and when the stakes are not just monetary but involve the health and wellbeing of Vermonters and the environment. That’s the point Willem Post has very successfully made time and time again regarding KCW.”

      The point about ratepayers (taxpayers are a different issue) is precisely the point that I’ve argued that Willem Post has NOT successfully made.

      Unless I’m mistaken, it will require a rate case to see what the stakes are for ratepayers; that, in brief, is the upshot of my much more ample discussion above. If I am mistaken, then by all means, set the record right. If I’m not, Mr. Post’s efforts have NOT been successful, unless assertion without evidence is “success,” the very point I have taken considerable time to elucidate.

    • Matt,
      A well written summary I agree with.
      Thank you for your complement.
      Willem

  • walter moses

    92 responses to the above article most by reasonable well informed readers. Amazing that, by my count, most are very negative toward GMP, Shumlin, the VT legislators and the PSB. Hints of corruption, duplicity and outright lying by the above. Do they get the message? GMP’s answer is to keep repeating the same old line, ” we will save ratepayers untold millions” in the hope someone believes them. Shumlin acts like Dudley Doright. I found it hard to believe that he attended the “Moose Harvest “lottery drawing to be the first to hug some guy who won the right to shoot fish in a barrel. What a sad spectacle this all is…. but wait, elections will come and the opportunity to remove Shumlin and his henchmen in spite of his overflowing “war chest” will be there. Maybe he would like to donate some of that $700,00 + to some kids for their tuition. Naw, he’s too good a business man for that.

  • Kevin Jones

    Having managed wholesale market policy for a utility that is about 5 times larger than the Vermont load I find the Shumlin administrations criticisms of ISO-NE both flawed and troubling. First, it is ISO-NE’s role to manage the reliability of the Vermont grid not protect the finances of an IOU that owns a generation project.

    When a generator interconnects with the grid it is the generators responsibility to pay for system upgrades necessary to maintain grid reliability not the grid operators. While ISO-NE identifies the upgrades necessary and must operate the grid in a reliable manner it is the generators responsibility to pay for the upgrades necessary. If a generator has not put in service a necessary upgrade such as a synchronous condensor then it is not ISO-NE that should be criticized since its role is managing grid reliability not playing favorites to particular generators. If ISO-NE were responsible for these upgrades then all users of the system would be paying for problems caused by generators interconnecting at problematic locations on the grid. This would be very inefficient and would increase costs for all Vermonters. If ISO-NE were to ignore these problems then it would pose problems with system reliability (e.g. power outages and/or damage to the system which are both expensive).

    The governors comments are particularly troubling in this instance since given flawed Vermont policy GMP sells all of the Renewable Energy Credits from this project out of state which means that Vermonters do not get the benefit of a cleaner energy mix so the Governor’s statement that this is necessary for meeting our clean energy goals is incorrect. As I have explained many times given that Vermont utilities sell all of the RECs from Vermont SPEED projects such as Kingdom Community Wind the more this facility generates the higher Vermont’s carbon emissions since the green energy is sold out of state and fossil fueled energy is imported in its place.

    The curtailments do present a financial problem for GMP though since when they are curtailed they do not generate federal production tax credits or renewable energy credits (which they are selling out of state for revenue) which results in a loss of revenue (around 6-8 cents/kwh of lost production) for GMP that would offset the facilities fixed costs. Given that Kingdom Community Wind is owned by a regulated utility rather than an independent power producer like in most of the northeast GMP ratepayers will likely absorb the cost of the curtailment given the dynamics of Vermont allowing utilities to own generation and the states alternative regulation regime.

    • Kevin,

      “As I have explained many times given that Vermont utilities sell all of the RECs from Vermont SPEED projects such as Kingdom Community Wind the more this facility generates the higher Vermont’s carbon emissions since the green energy is sold out of state and fossil fueled energy is imported in its place.”

      You have explained it incorrectly many times. You are again confusing bookkeeping with physics and who gets credit.

      According to the BOOKKEEPING, only the RECs are exported, not the wind ENERGY, which gets used, most likely by Vermonters, as soon as it is fed into the grid, according to the PHYSICS.

      No ADDITIONAL out of state fossil energy is imported. In fact, LESS is imported, due to most of the GMP wind energy being consumed in Vermont, again, according to the PHYSICS.

      Regarding who gets CREDIT for RE generation is still another matter.

      Vermont should not take credit towards its RE goals, if GMP SELLS the RECs to out of state entities. It would be fraudulent to do so.

      It is better to keep the above three concepts separate to avoid confusion.

      Regarding the rest of your comment, it falls under the heading of “THE DISTURBER PAYS”, a decades-old rule known to almost all involved in the power industry.

      Governors and their political appointees often do not know the rule, or in their letters to grid operators try to bend the rule, as part of doing “Constituent Service”.

      • Kevin Jones

        Willem you may be a good engineer but you continue to miss the intricacies of power markets and why RECs were created in the first place. If both the out of state customers and Vermont load get to count the same wind energy as low carbon that would be double counting and mathematically not correct. When a Vermont utility signs a contract with a renewable generator and then sells the RECs the Vermont load must be assigned an emission profile (which is all fossil and nuke) for its consumption since the low carbon energy goes with the RECs. The concept of separating RECs from physical power generation is to give the load that pays the renewable energy premium the right to claim the green energy. When I discuss Vermont’s carbon footprint I am referring to the carbon footprint of Vermont utility customers (the load in Vermont) not what is generated here. As you know the electrons go into the mix and you cannot physically deliver it to a customer so RECs are the means to do the accounting which is the important feature not where the energy is generated. I am glad to provide you with resources that explain this offline but your continuing rebuttal to my accurate statements is getting a bit tiring. It is a fact that if you correctly model Vermont load the more SPEED projects generate (e.g. all the Vermont wind projects) the higher Vermont customers’ carbon footprint.

        • Kevin,

          “As you know the electrons go into the mix and you cannot physically deliver it to a customer so RECs are the means to do the accounting which is the important feature not where the energy is generated. ”

          That is exactly the point I have been making: The Lowell wind energy is consumed as soon as it is delivered to the grid (the grid cannot store energy), most likely by Vermonters, but from an ACCOUNTING point of view, RECs are sold by GMP to an out-of-state entity so that entity can POSTPONE for one year doing something about its CO2 emissions, AND can claim it has satisfied its state law, AND that state can claim it reduced its CO2 emissions, just as Al Gore did some years ago to “reduce” his mansion’s CO2 emissions. Vermont can no longer COUNT the CO2 reduction towards ITS goals; it would be fraudulent to do so.

          PS. According to the Physics, energy moves as electromagnetic waves at somewhat less than the speed of light; the electrons vibrate in place.

        • Kevin,
          “It is a fact that if you correctly model Vermont load the more (energy) SPEED projects generate (e.g. all the Vermont wind projects) the higher Vermont customers’ carbon footprint.”

          If we assume Vermont generates 20% of its energy from wind (about the maximum politically/economically feasible), almost all of it would be consumed within Vermont.

          If all the RECs were sold (by, for example, GMP) to out of state entities, it would reduce GMP’s cost of energy, and rate increases would be less for Vermonters.

          To achieve this, several billion dollars of grid construction would be required within Vermont, plus robust connections to nearby states, and the energy would need to be balanced by other generators on the NE grid, which would primarily be existing OCGT and CCGT gas turbines located outside Vermont; HQ would likely not perform balancing and VY could not.

          Vermont’s carbon foot print would increase, if these balancing OCGTs and CCGTs had to operate more hours and produce more MWhs to balance the wind energy than they would have absent wind energy, thereby displacing other energy sources, and if the extra CO2 of that balancing would be assigned to Vermont.

          NOTE: In case of Denmark, it exports most of its wind energy at low prices to Norway and Sweden at night, which balances it with their hydro plants, and buys back the energy at higher prices during the day.

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