Utilities want flexibility under renewable portfolio standards

Lawmakers are working on a bill that would change the way utilities buy and sell renewable energy credits.

State officials want to repeal the Vermont’s current energy development program, known as the Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development Program, or SPEED, for economic and environmental reasons and replace it with a new renewable portfolio standard.

If the state doesn’t set new rules for renewable energy generation, ratepayers could face a $50 million increase in electricity rates, a roughly 6 percent rate hike statewide. In Burlington, rates could go up as much as 20 percent.

Officials also say SPEED will not satisfy the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The so-called Renewable Energy Standard and Energy Transformation or RESET program would replace SPEED. RESET requires utilities to sell power generated from renewables like wind and solar, and make investments in the heating and transportation energy sector to replace fossil fuels.

Under RESET, 55 percent of a utility’s electricity must come from an existing renewable generation plant. By 2032, that number increases to 75 percent. Approximately 40 percent of the state’s electricity now comes from renewables, according to the Department of Public Service.

Robert Dostis

Robert Dostis, director of government affairs at Green Mountain Power, presents lawmakers with a report on the utility’s power supply portfolio during testimony before the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Wednesday. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

Meanwhile, Vermont’s electric utilities are asking the Legislature for more flexibility in order to comply with the new renewable energy program.

“It’s all very new,” Robert Dostis, director of government affairs at Green Mountain Power, told the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Wednesday during testimony on bill H.40.

“The greater flexibility in this, the better, because there are a lot of unknowns,” he said.

Dostis said the utility plans to meet most of its obligation through hydroelectric facilities and a contract with Hydro-Québec. He said about 47 percent of the utility’s electricity supply comes from resources that would qualify under the program.

The company’s contract with Hydro-Québec expires this year. It is entering into a new 20-year contract for the power that will supply up to 30 percent of the utility’s power supply at 5 cents to 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Green Mountain Power could sell its Hydro Quebéc credits, but other states are unlikely to buy them because, unlike Vermont, most don’t count existing, large-scale hydro toward their top-level renewable energy goals.

To comply with the state’s renewable energy goal, utilities will trade renewable energy credits, or RECs, with power suppliers in New England. The value of the credits vary based on supply and demand, and the type of renewable power they represent.

Under Vermont’s program, all existing renewable energy sources count toward the state’s compliance target. That means utilities can sell high-value credits — largely from wind and solar farms in Vermont — and purchase less expensive credits that other states cannot use to meet compliance goals. Utilities say it will be easy to meet their obligation under the program.

Burlington Electric Department can sell many of the credits from the McNeil biomass plant, as well as other renewables in its portfolio, for $50 per credit on the regional market; in exchange, the utility can purchase second-tier credits for less than $5 per credit, said Ken Nolan, manager of power resources for BED.

“I don’t think it will be too difficult, nor do I think it was intended to be,” Nolan said.

BED currently sells $10 million worth of RECs annually to fund its $50 million budget. Purchasing second-tier RECs, like hydro, would cost the utility $300,000 to $400,000.

Connecticut passed a law that may prohibit utilities from purchasing Vermont renewable energy credits, and other states may follow Connecticut’s lead. If Vermont were unable to sell credits, there would be a 6 percent rate increase statewide, according to the Department of Public Service.

“You take what could be a 20 percent rate increase if we are carved out of the Connecticut market and have no recourse, and you turn it into a half-percent rate impact,” Nolan said.

Sandy Levine of the Conservation Law Foundation has concerns about the RESET program. She said most other states in New England require utilities to purchase credits from new projects that come online. She said Vermont could do more to encourage construction of renewable energy infrastructure.

“It would be very helpful for Vermont to provide additional incentives for new renewable energy,” Levine said. “And if all we are doing is playing with our accounting practices and not actually building and using more renewable power, we fall far short of meeting our renewable energy goals.”

The proposed program would require that utilities meet at least 1 percent of their retail sales with new, in-state renewable energy projects that are less than 5 megawatts in size. This target increases to 10 percent by 2032. If the goal is not achievable, utilities can ask regulators for permission to build larger projects.

Dylan Zwicky of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group supports the RESET program. He said he will work with lawmakers to create incentives that will speed up development of small scale energy generation projects in Vermont.

“One of the goals of a [renewable portfolio standard] is to actually get more renewable energy built,” Zwicky said. “As this proposal is drafted, it’s pretty clear that we are going to continue to build out small-scale renewable at the pace we already do.”

One utility executive said more wind power will be necessary because many alternatives are less cost effective.

David Hallquist

Vermont Electric Coop CEO David Hallquist said part of Vermont’s renewable energy program is risky during testimony before the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Wednesday. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

“If you don’t have wind you’re not going to make it. … There are no alternatives,” said Vermont Electric Coop CEO David Hallquist. “It’s physics.”

The bill also requires that utilities invest in technologies that replace fossil fuels in the heating and transportation sector with cleaner electricity, a policy dubbed “strategic electrification.” This would mean that utilities would be responsible for installing heat pumps, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and other measures that reduce fossil fuel consumption, for example.

Utilities want more flexibility in how they satisfy this requirement.

Burlington Electric asked lawmakers to revise the bill so that utilities are not entirely financially liable for certain investments in projects that turn out to be less cost effective than predicted. The change the utility is proposing would allow it to recover costs from ratepayers.

Nolan, of BED, said there may be cases when certain investments may be considered cost effective, but it may turn out that some assumptions were not perfect. He said if regulators approve the assumptions, the utility should not be on the hook.

“That’s not something that we are used to doing. So we are going to be making some assumptions and designing programs that are not traditional utility programs,” Nolan said.

The new program is raising questions about the effect added consumption will have on electricity prices. In year one, the investments the utilities would have to make are equal to installing 2,000 air source heat pumps, according to the Department of Public Service.

The department says utilities must encourage customers to run their appliances at times when energy demand is low, and when electricity costs less. Otherwise, consumption will add to the region’s peak, sending up prices and requiring investments in new infrastructure to handle the load.

Utilities are considering ways to deter customers from using electricity when demand is high, and rewarding consumption when rates are low. Equipping electric appliances with smarter technology may allow the utility to dial up and down the appliances to avoid rate shocks.

Dostis said all appliances are going to become smarter so that they can turn off and adjust based on load.

“If you have a dryer and when there is plenty of energy it can fire up on all cylinders and when energy is needed, or the grid just needs more power, it can automatically turn off,” he said.

But some lawmakers say constituents do not want utilities controlling their electricity consumption. Also at issue are privacy concerns about the data utilities would collect to manage demand.

Hallquist said there should be provisions in the bill that would allow regulators to make changes to the program if necessary.

“You are treading into an arena that has a lot of risk,” Hallquist told lawmakers. “And I applaud you for that.”

John Herrick

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  • The large utilities and electrical developers have had their way for the past decade. It’s time to do the right thing for the citizens of Vermont and destroying our environment and communities should be off the table, as should the continued scam of selling RECs. If by not selling RECs cost the rate payers they should blame and hold accountable the Governor, his “legislators”, the DPS and PSB for this terrible mistake. The utilities and energy developers in Vermont are not “to big to fail”. They just think they are and this needs to be changed.

  • Bruce Post

    “If you don’t have wind you’re not going to make it. There are not alternatives.” said Vermont Electric Coop CEO David Hallquist.

    Well, at least David Hallquist is honest … in addition to being repugnant. He is more than willing to sacrifice Vermont’s mountains for his bottom line.

    Vermont is a captive of the electric utilities. They — along with their sycophants like VPIRG and the renewable energy cartel — celebrate our natural endowment while simultaneously being all too willing to scar, deface and mutilate that environment.

    Vermont lives in some alternative reality, a Vermont Life virtual world composed of holographic and rhetorical illusions. We market our so-called pristine, unspoiled environment while constantly destroying it. Like an abuser beating their victim, we land our blows while professing, “I love you. I love you. I really do.”

    Quite frankly, I would have some grudging respect for a politician who was honest enough to say, “Yes, I would rather sacrifice our environment in order to preserve the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.” In reality, that is what most of them want to do; they just don’t want to admit it.”

    • Willem Post

      Bruce,

      I agree with you. With 459-ft tall wind turbines on many ridgelines, Vermont Life, etc., would have to use pre-wind photographs of Vermont ridgelines to illustrate its magazines.

      Out with the expensive, underperforming SPEED program, in with the nirvana of an RPS!!

      There is this fixation about a Renewable Portfolio Standard, RPS, as if it is a foregone conclusion which all must accept a priori.

      We should find out just how well the RPS has worked in other states, and why the MAJORITY of states do not have an RPS, and why some states diluted or cancelled their RPS.

      Building RE systems in Vermont, no matter what the cost, appears to be the allowed topic of discussion. Not a thought regarding what that will do to Vermont’s stagnant, near-zero-growth economy full of already-struggling households (whose real incomes have been declining since 2000), and full of near-zero profit businesses.

      NOTE: Chittenden County has many people, and its economic statistics rank well above all other Vermont counties. If Chittenden County were removed from the Vermont economic averages, the averages of the rest of Vermont would be just slightly above Mississippi, i.e., near the BOTTOM of US averages. Vermont is a very poor state? You bet.

      Here are the REAL (inflation-adjusted, 2013$) US household income DECLINES. Vermont household income declines are similar.

      Quintile…….Peak Year………Peak Income………2013 Income……..Decline

      1st …………….2006………………..$194,296……………$185,206………..- 4.7%
      2nd……………2007…………………$88,880……………..$83,519……….. – 6.0%
      3rd…………….2000…………………$57,129………………$52,322……….. – 8.4%
      4th…………….2000…………………$34,306……………..$30,509……… – 11.1%
      5th…………….1999………………….$13,861………………$11,651……….. – 15.9%

      http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Household-Income-Distribution.php

      People should know by now, in New England, wind energy is zero or near-zero about 30% of the hours of the year, and solar energy is zero or near-zero about 65% of the hours of the year. Often both are near zero. That means ALL other generators need to be kept in good running order, staffed and fueled to provide almost ALL energy during these hours, and lesser quantities of energy during other hours!! Two energy systems to do one job!

      NOTE: Economically viable energy storage systems, other than hydro, have not yet been invented, and would take decades to deploy AFTER they are invented.

      It is well known, the NEK would need at least $250 to $300 million of grid upgrades before significant variable, intermittent wind energy can be added. Just adding the cancelled Seneca system would have cost $86 million in grid upgrades. GMP had to spend a total of about $20 million to connect to the grid.

      Dostes is on the right track, but he is too timid. He should courageous, go for at least 75% of GMP energy from hydro. It would be much less destructive to the Vermont environment to buy as much hydro energy as possible from Hydro-Quebec at 5 – 7 c/kWh. This would require building an ADDITIONAL HVDC line(s) of about 600 MW within Vermont. HQ would build a connecting HVDC line within Canada.

      Not a word about building zero-energy buildings or energy-surplus buildings. Here are some examples of annual energy use for heating, cooling and electricity of energy-hog government buildings:

      NY State Office Building Campus/SUNY-Albany Campus; average 186,000 Btu/sq ft/yr. Source: a study I did in the 80s.
      Vermont State Government buildings; average 107,000 Btu/sq ft/yr.
      Not much can be done with such buildings other than taking them down to the steel structure and start over.
      http://www.publicassets.org/PAI-IB0806.pdf

      About 95% of Vermont buildings are energy-hog buildings.

      Adding air source or ground source heat pumps to energy-hog buildings is like putting the horse behind the cart.

      First one should build the energy-efficient buildings, then it makes sense to add the heat pumps. Energy-efficient buildings, such as Passivhaus buildings, hardly need any heating system, even in Vermont.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2162036/comparison-grid-connected-and-grid-houses
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/71771/energy-efficiency-first-renewables-later
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/332911/high-renewable-energy-costs-damage-vermonts-economy

      • Townsend Peters

        1. The majority of states in the U.S. have an RPS.

        http://www.dsireusa.org/documents/summarymaps/RPS_map.pdf

        2. An RPS in Vermont means less wind in Vermont, not more, because wind in other states would qualify.

        3. Glad to hear you support increasing taxes to fund retrofitting homes to be more energy efficiency. Oh, wait, you don’t.

        • Annette Smith

          H.40 is not an RPS

          • Townsend Peters

            Mr. Post stated that the majority of states do not have an RPS. He is wrong.

            What is your basis for claiming H.40 is not an RPS?

          • Willem Post

            Annette,

            Excerpt from the article:
            “Under RESET, 55 percent of a utility’s electricity must come from an existing renewable generation plant. By 2032, that number increases to 75 percent. Approximately 40 percent of the state’s electricity now comes from renewables, according to the Department of Public Service.”

            The implications of RESET are stunning. The RES of H-40 forces utilities to buy expensive renewable energy. Under the RES, utilities would be required to sell 55% of their energy as RE by end 2017, 75% by end 2032.

            NOTE: Energy sales from distributed RE projects of 1% at end 2017, 10% at end 2032, are part of the 55% and 75% requirements.

            Utilities would be FORCED to sell 55% of their energy from RE by end 2017? This looks like a pie in the sky goal to me. Here are some numbers to provide a reality check. See page E.8 of URL for below data:

            http://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/psd/files/Pubs_Plans_Reports/Utility_Facts/Utility%20Facts%202013.pdf

            …………………………..MWh
            Hydro………………. 548,498
            Other RE……………180,550
            Total …………………729,048
            System B……………465,164; the RECs were sold so VT cannot take credit for that RE.
            Total RE…………..1,194,212

            NOTE: System A energy, 740,585 MWh, is purchased by utilities from various sources; the RE% of that energy is not stated in the report.

            Vermont consumption……………5,600,000 MWh
            55% RE by end 2017………………3,080,000 MWh
            1% Distributed…………………………..30,800 MWh; mostly on roofs
            Ridgelines and meadows………..3,049,200 MWh; other RE sources are assumed to be minor.
            Existing RE sales…………………….1,194,212 MWh
            New RE to be generated………….1,854,988 MWh

            If all those RE systems were built in Vermont, and 20% is assumed solar (mostly in meadows, etc.) and 80% is assumed wind (mostly on ridgelines), then the estimated capital cost and number of systems would be:

            Wind = 0.80 x 1,854,988 MWh/(8,760 hr/yr x CF 0.25) x $2,800,000/MW = $1.90 billion
            Number of Lowell wind systems = 678 MW/63 MW = 11

            Solar = 0.20 x 1,854,988 MWh/(8,760 hr/yr x CF 0.14) x $3,500,000/MW = $1.06 billion
            Number of 2.2 MW solar systems = 303/2.2 = 138

            About $300 million for grid upgrades in the NEK, plus many more millions of dollars elsewhere.

            The DPS goals are pure nonsense. To have all those systems in place, in Vermont, by the end of 2017, would be a miracle.

            Going to “75% RE by 2032” would require several additional billions of dollars.

            Where will these funds come from? How much will be the federal subsidies? How much will be the VT subsidies? No blowback from communities about visual impact, noise, lowering of property values, environmental damage?

            To meet the RES goals, VT would have to buy almost all of that RE from out of state. The quickest, and least costly way that can be done is to buy more hydro from H-Q. An HVDC transmission line in Vermont would be needed.

            In addition to diverting scarce capital from more useful investments, it would misused to destroy ridgelines and meadows, and to produce RE energy at about 3 – 5 times New England wholesale prices, which have averaged about 5 c/kWh for the past 5 years. That would be a major headwind for Vermont’s weak, low/near-zero-growth, economy, with mostly already struggling households, whose real incomes have DECLINED since 2000, and with low/near-zero-profit businesses, all trying to make ends meet, while paying more and more, for an ever-growing, ponderous, expensive government sector that acts as a wet blanket on the shrinking private sector.

        • Willem Post

          Townsend,

          1) You are right, 29 states + Washington DC + 2 territories have an RPS.

          Several of the states that still have an RPS have watered it down, some are thinking of cancelling it. Just google .

          The TREND appears to be not towards increasing RPS.

          2) Why not be rational and state the obvious?

          If UNSTEADY, VARIABLE, INTERMITTENT, out-of-state wind energy at 10 – 15 c/kWh is “qualified” (in violation of the RE aficionados’ mantra “keeping money in Vermont”), then much increased STEADY, NOT VARIABLE, NOT INTERMITTENT H-Q energy at 5 – 7 c/kWh (per Dostes, who knows those numbers better than you or I) should certainly qualify. The H-Q environmental damage took place 15 – 20 years ago, whereas wind energy, in-state or out-of-state, would entail ADDITIONAL damage.

          3) “Glad to hear you support increasing taxes to fund retrofitting homes to be more energy efficiency. Oh, wait, you don’t.”

          Why are you making that comment, as it is not part of my above comment?

          I urge to actually READ the referenced articles, then make comments.

          Annette,

          You are right H-40 is an energy bill which covers many aspects of energy, including some form of Renewable Portfolio Standard, RPS.

          Upon rereading the bill, I had to scratch my head several times. The vagueness regarding costs and environmental impacts is astounding.

          I doubt if the members of the House committee are competent enough to understand the implications of what is being proposed.

          Expert energy persons, not state employees, not pre-selected consultants, should explain H-40 to them line by line, so the wool does not get pulled over their eyes again, as with SPEED. People, such as David Hallquist, and others, come to mind.

    • Tom Sullivan

      Yes, I would rather sacrifice our environment in order to preserve the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.”

      I’m not a politician, but I thought it might make you feel better.

  • Annette Smith

    I suggest a different photo caption: Robert Dostis, ex-chair of the House Natural Resources Committee that created the SPEED program that has been identified as a sham, explains why the legislation written by and for the utilities, developers and renewable energy advocates is necessary to fix the problems he helped create.

  • Kevin Jones

    Well they certainly got the name right. After a decade of Vermont having the most fundamentally flawed renewable energy program in the country it is time to hit the RESET button and start over. The SPEED program because of the sham REC trading allowed, increased Vermont’s carbon footprint over the last decade and did not result in a net increase in renewables in New England since Vermont’s utilities were really selling our renewables to CT and MA to meet their requirements. The reason that a real renewable portfolio standard would raise GMPs and BEDs electric rates is because these utilities have been telling Vermonters they are green while they have really been selling all the expensive green energy from Kingdom Community Wind and Sheffield Wind as well as the McNeil Plant to the customers of the utilities in MA and CT who have real leading renewable energy programs. It is one thing to admit that your state can’t afford to have strong renewable goals that really help mitigate climate change but it is truly shameful to mislead your customers into believing that you are green while all along selling those rights to the honest utilities in southern New England. Yes, honest clean energy policies are more expensive than false perceptions perpetuated by utility shell games.

    The RESET proposal is complex and very different than what exists elsewhere and thus deserves a full public debate that highlights its pluses and minuses offering an opportunity to improve it rather than rushing it quickly through the process hoping we will not notice its flaws — if we learned anything from the flawed SPEED program it should be that if you don’t understand something maybe we should be thoughtful and thorough in our review rather than to learn that our worst fears are later realized. As CLF notes, RESET initially is based on counting existing renewables such as Hydro Quebec and thus really is much less ambitious than it appears. As the utilities have noted, there will be little additional cost in meeting its goals and much of the law is designed to legitimize the continued sale of wind and solar RECs to MA and CT customers — some things never seem to change. Maybe after shining some light on the legislation we will find that there is much to like in some of the DG provisions and in the energy transformation provisions but there are clearly some provisions that should never be implemented.

    On feature of RESET that is especially repugnant and will prove a disincentive to Vermonters continued support and participation in net metered solar is the provision that will mandate that utilities can take the RECs from customers net metered solar systems if the customer wants the full distributed generation incentive. The utility will have to retire the net metered RECs but they are retired on behalf of the utility not the customer. What this means is significant for those that invest their money or take out a loan to install solar at your home, office, university or community solar project. No longer will the resident, business or university be able to claim the renewable energy as their own or be able to legitimately claim they have reduced their own carbon foot print — all they will have done for this investment of their capital is help GMP or some other utility meet their utility wide mandated goal. Why invest your money in solar on your home or business to help GMP meet a goal that is mandated when you can’t claim that you have honestly reduced your carbon footprint since the utilities have demanded that the Shumlin administration agree to give them your RECs? Why would groups of Vermonters band together like the those who formed Boardman Hill Solar LLC on an organic farm where the land lease on this conserved farmland prohibits stripping RECs from the net metered energy if the Shumlin Administration and utilities are going to join together and mandate that either you forgo your solar adder or the RECs? Why shouldn’t we both provide financial support for real community solar and allow the local community members to claim the greenhouse gas reductions? Isn’t what both the local food movement and similarly community solar is about leaving as much of the benefits locally? Why should GMP or BED or VEC or WEC be allowed to take the renewable energy benefits out of the hands of the people who laid out the upfront cash for this solar investment? How is this supposed to help the many hardworking local installers? If one of Vermont’s great local small businesses wants to hire a local solar installer to construct an array that would allow them to cover 100% of their electric usage and want to advertise that they are 100% renewable why should they have to forego either their solar adder or their RECs. If a private business were to let GMP or another utility take their RECs while advertising they were renewable they would clearly be in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission because in order to make the green claim you must have control of the RECs (not your utility). I am sure the Shumlin administration has not thought about what this means to the colleges and universities that have signed on to the national climate commitment. These schools such as Middlebury, Green Mountain College and Vermont Law School have all recently moved forward on large net metered solar project in order to reduce the campus carbon footprint. Under the RESET bill as proposed these and other colleges considering net metered solar projects in the future would either have to forego their premium solar payment or their RECs. Since the colleges must retain the RECs to rightfully meet their greenhouse gas reduction commitments what the RESET bill as drafted will do is discourage doing local solar that supports the local economy since alternatives like purchasing relatively cheap carbon offsets will more directly meet the climate commitment goals. Is this really the goal the legislature wants in mandating the utilities take the RECs?

    Surprisingly there is no reason to turn the net metered RECs over to the utilities other than as I have been told because the utilities demand it. If a customer wants the solar adder then there could be a requirement that the customer not unbundle and sell the REC to others (or in other words they retire it). If the net metered customers of a utility retire their RECs then their is no reason that the utility cannot still count their customers action as meeting a portion of the total utility RESET goal. The individual customers of a utility are after all part of the total utility load. As someone who has worked in the utility industry much of my career it is still hard to understand why the utilities don’t get that it should be about what the customer wants and needs not the other way around.

    So here is but one very important change hidden in a complex bill that deserves further debate and discussion. In the end it is time to collectively shovel some dirt on top of the SPEED program and move on. We just shouldn’t rush to implement something even the energy experts don’t fully understand. We did that a decade ago and created the only renewable energy program in the country that significantly increased a state’s carbon footprint and that is the honest legacy of SPEED.

    • Willem Post

      Kevin,
      “The SPEED program because of the sham REC trading allowed, increased Vermont’s carbon footprint over the last decade and did not result in a net increase in renewables in New England since Vermont’s utilities were really selling our renewables to CT and MA to meet their requirements.”

      You keep repeating and spreading the same invalid statement.

      The energy of the SPEED program does PHYSICALLY reduce CO2 emissions, but on a “who gets credit basis”, i.e., bookkeeping basis, Vermont should not take credit for the SPEED energy, and should not count the SPEED energy towards its RE goals, if it sells the RECs out of state.

      The underperforming, expensive SPEED program was set up by Klein in the legislature, and Dostes, Blittersdorf, Wolfe, et al., on the Clean Energy Development Fund Board, for grabbing as much federal and state subsidies as possible for RE projects that needed CEDF board approvals. Some of these board members had their own RE projects before the board!

      Here are the production results for the SPEED Program, 2.2 MW or less:

      Year……….Production…………Paid to Owners……….$/kWh………% VT Use
      Units…………kWh……………………….$

      2010………..5,980,779…………….829,832.88…………0.1387…………0.11
      2011……….20,172,973…………3,329,269.05…………0.1650…………0.36
      2012……….29,666,592…………5,093,237.71…………0.1717………….0.53
      2013……….44,820,516…………8,692,440.70…………0.1939…………0.81
      2014……….62,865,075……….13,190,927.86…………0.2098…………1.13; after 4.5 years of RE build-outs!

      http://vermontspeed.com/speed-monthly-production/
      http://vermontspeed.squarespace.com/project-status/

      Excess payments during the past 5 years, based on New England average wholesale prices of about $0.054/kWh

      ……………….Excess Payments……….Cent/kWh increase of electric bills

      2010………………$506,871………………0.01
      2011……………$2,239,929………………0.04
      2012……………$3,491,242………………0.06
      2013……………$6,272,133……………….0.11
      2014……………$9,796,214………………0.18; rapidly increasing, as is the budget of Efficiency Vermont!

      The politically well-connected, multi-millionaires, with lucrative, no-risk, tax shelters, are benefitting the most from tax credits, fast write-offs, production tax credits and overly generous feed-in tariffs, to build solar plants (destroying meadows) and under-performing wind plants (destroying ridge lines) that produce variable, intermittent, grid-disturbing energy at 3-5 times New England wholesale prices; a sure way to further DECREASE the competitiveness of an already near-stagnant Vermont economy. Vermont’s government is coddling those wealthy multi-millionaires with RE programs that excessively waste scarce taxpayer money and do practically nothing to reduce global warming.

    • Townsend Peters

      Mr. Jones faults SPEED for double-counting.

      He then proposes that Vermont should allow the double-counting of RECs for net metering systems.

      LOL.

      • Kevin Jones

        Townsend you are mistaken. Double counting is when you try to count the same thing twice. What I am suggesting is accurate aggregation of a utilities customers renewables up to the aggregate utility load. Imagine 2 customers served by the same utility. If customer a has 100 kw of solar and customer b has 50 kw of solar. In aggregate the utility load is 150 kw of solar. That is not double counting it is called addition. When you add one plus one do you get two?

        • Townsend Peters

          Mr. Jones, please be honest about your proposal. You propose that the customer be able to claim the solar power is renewable AND that the utility be able to do so.

  • Don Peterson

    So let’s review:

    A utility can buy renewable energy at 5c from Quebec and sell renewable from Vermont sources at 50c.

    I wonder if that kind of state imposed price distortion will result in irrational development decisions?

    And I wonder who benefits from this?

    • Moshe Braner

      I would like to know why some RECs are “worth” 10 times more than others – how do they differ, and when we learn the answer, would we still think that buying the cheaper RECs is meaningful in our effort to actually pollute less? Otherwise, the RPS may be just a new configuration of the old SPEED sham.

  • Where are these new wind ‘farms’ to be built? Which towns? Who are the developers, the utilities, the landowners? Name some names.

    I had been pondering Rep. Tony Klein’s statement that there would be new wind developments in the Northeast Kingdom, “but not for about 10 or 15 years.” Now it makes sense.

    • Annette Smith

      On Dec. 22 Iberdrola applied to ISO-NE for interconnection studies for 96.9 MW in Windham/Grafton and 30 MW for the Deerfield Wind project. Curiously, Iberdrola’s application for the Deerfield interconnection preceded the federal judge’s ruling on that project by two days. How does a Spanish company learn of a US federal court judge’s decision before it is issued?

  • walter moses

    Thank you Bruce Post. In a nutshell, you laid it all out. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone” .

  • Moshe Braner

    “The department says utilities must encourage customers to run their appliances at times when energy demand is low, and when electricity costs less. Otherwise, consumption will add to the region’s peak, sending up prices and requiring investments in new infrastructure … Equipping electric appliances with smarter technology may allow the utility to dial up and down the appliances to avoid rate shocks.”

    There is a much simpler way to achieve that: we’ve already spent the money on “smart meters”, and they were touted as providing the ability to bill for electricity at variable rates. Why are we not doing that then? Can do it NOW, without any new “smart” appliances. At peak demand times (summer afternoons) charge more. Unless and until we do that, all of us are subsidizing those who use a lot of power at those times – when the wholesale price is often higher than the fixed retail price. Yes, without the “smart” appliances people will have to turn some things off manually, if they want to save money. The horrors!

    Like Bruce Post indirectly said: it’s our lifestyle that needs to change.

  • What a mess!

    This is going to turn out bad with the costs dumped on Vermont consumers and a state economy that cannot bear the burden.

    Going forward, developers will speed up covering our mountains with unreliable wind turbines and roadways and neighborhoods with unreliable industrial solar panels as the impacted homeowners stand helplessly by witnessing the value of their property plummet.

    But life will be easy for the developers because the state has no meaningful development and siting standards to impede construction or the rubber stamping approval process by the Public Service Board.

    Of course there will be a need to pay more and higher subsidies. Yes, the cash needs to keep flowing ever faster to multi-millionaire investors in towns like Greenwich, CT. Towns where you can be absolutely assured there will be no wind turbines or solar panels to be found.

    REC’s from these projects will be sold to other states allowing them to continue using dirty fuel while Vermont covers its landscape with giant industrial renewable energy developments.

    Laws will be created forcing the utilities into the electric car charging and heat pump businesses while passing the operating risk on to ratepayers. We have already heard that the utilities are very nervous and don’t want this risk.

    When the utilities are not building car charging stations or selling heat pumps, they will be monitoring Vermonters to make sure that mom is not ironing laundry while watching Oprah during peak demand periods.

    What a mess!

    • John Greenberg

      “Yes, the cash needs to keep flowing ever faster to multi-millionaire investors in towns like Greenwich, CT. Towns where you can be absolutely assured there will be no wind turbines or solar panels to be found.”

      “Following an application by the Conservation Commission, Greenwich was selected by CEFIA on September 4th 2013 to participate in the Solarize CT program. Solarize Greenwich provides an opportunity for Greenwich homeowners to reduce their electricity bills by installing solar panel systems on their property at a dramatically discounted cost thanks to the power of group purchasing. Solarize Greenwich uses a tiered-pricing structure where the more residents sign up the more the cost of the solar panel system comes down for everyone. Solarize Greenwich is partnership that includes the Town of Greenwich, CEFIA, a clean energy non- profit group Smart Power, and a competitively selected solar panel installer Renewable Resources Energy Solutions of Stamford, CT. ”
      http://www.greenwichct.org/government/commissions/conservation_commission/cean_energy_community/

      • Willem Post

        John,

        Greenwich is green in more ways than one.

        I have some friends who live in Greenwich. An entirely different, mostly artificial world.

      • Let’s see how long it takes Greenwich to clear cut acres and acres of forested land across the street from residences to develop industrial solar as is proposed for Rutland Town.

  • Maurice Morey

    Vermont already has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the US, and 8% of that low amount comes from electricity generation. We also have one of the highest electricity costs in the US, and our economy and taxpayers can’t afford much more of this overpriced, intermittewnt wind development just to funnel more special rewards into the pockets of foreign developers such as Iberdrola, out of state land lords such as Meadowsend Timberland/ the French family, or “renewable magnates such as David Blittersdorf. Energy developers were in the top 3 political contributors to Gov. Shumlin and Iberdrola has been forced to admitting to offering literally $millions in financial incentives down to the town official level. Now you know why there is turmoil approaching civil unrest in towns threatened by these developments.
    The cost of wind developments never factor in all the federal/state incentives, the cost in property values to hundreds of everyday homeowners or the impact to tourism, ecology and hydrology. Mr. Dostists is the perfect example of the revolving door from Legislator to Utility Executive back to expert testimony to his cronies in the House. It is time for Vermonters to stop swallowing the “green”camouflage of wind lobbyists like VPIRG, get the facts and contact your legislators. The last election has only caused the cartel to speed up their agenda before the public really gets mad.

  • Willem Post

    Anne,
    I do want to correct my comment to Annette, as it is based on 2011 information, instead of 2014 information that was recently released by the DPS.

    Here is the comment to Annette:

    Under the RES, utilities would be required to sell 55% of their energy as RE by end 2017, 75% by end 2032. Energy sales from distributed RE projects of 1% at end 2017, 10% at end 2032, are part of the 55% and 75% requirements.

    NOTE: The DPS claims, without backup numbers, RE sales were about 2,240,000 MWh in 2014, or 40% of total utility sales.
    http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2015/01/28/utilities-want-flexibility-renewable-portfolio-standards/#comment-211965

    Utilities would be FORCED to sell 55% of their energy from RE by end 2017? This looks like a pie in the sky goal to me. Here are some numbers to provide a reality check.

    Vermont consumption……………5,600,000 MWh
    55% RE by end 2017…………….3,080,000 MWh
    1% Distributed…………………………..30,800 MWh; mostly on roofs
    Ridgelines and meadows………..3,049,200 MWh; other RE sources are assumed to be minor.
    RE sales in 2014……………………2,240,000 MWh; at end 2014, per above DPS statement
    New RE to be generated……………809,200 MWh; at end 2017

    If all those RE systems were built in Vermont, and 20% is assumed solar (mostly in meadows, etc.) and 80% is assumed wind (mostly on ridgelines), then the estimated capital cost and number of systems would be:

    Wind = 0.80 x 809,200 MWh/(8,760 hr/yr x CF 0.25) x $2,800,000/MW = $0.83 billion
    Number of Lowell wind systems = 296 MW/63 MW = 5

    Solar = 0.20 x 809,200 MWh/(8,760 hr/yr x CF 0.14) x $3,500,000/MW = $0.46 billion
    Number of 2.2 MW solar systems = 132/2.2 = 60

    About $300 million is estimated for grid upgrades in the NEK, plus more millions of dollars for elsewhere of the grid. The estimated total capital cost would be at least $0.83 b Wind + $0.46 b Solar + $0.30 b Grid = $1.59 billion by end 2017, or 1.59/3 = $530 million per year. This high level of capital outlays is part of the DPS plan to maximize the overly generous 30% federal subsidies before they expire at end 2017!!!

    Going from “55% by 2017” to “75% RE by 2032” would require additional capital for wind systems on ridgelines and solar systems in meadows, and to build out distributed energy from 1% at end 2017 to 10% at end 2032.

    NOTE: The DPS goal by 2017 is politically unachievable, as it is unlikely 5 Lowells would be built. That means almost all of the above 809,200 MWh would have to come from solar, which would increase capital costs and energy costs.

    To spend $530 million per year for 3 years, and have 5 Lowell systems and (60) 2.2 MW solar systems in operation, in Vermont, by the end of 2017, would be a major adversity for Vermont’s economy and environment.

    Where will these funds come from? How much will be the federal subsidies? How much will be the VT subsidies? No blowback from communities about visual impact, noise, lowering of property values, environmental damage?

    To meet the RES goals, VT would have to buy almost all of that RE from out of state. The quickest, and least costly way that can be done is to buy more hydro from H-Q. An HVDC transmission line in Vermont would be needed.

    In addition to diverting scarce capital from more useful investments, it would be misused to destroy ridgelines and meadows, and to produce RE at about 3 – 5 times New England wholesale prices, which have averaged about 5 c/kWh for the past 5 years.

    That would be a major headwind for Vermont’s weak, low/near-zero-growth, economy, with mostly already-struggling households, whose real incomes have DECLINED since 2000, and with low/near-zero-profit businesses, all trying to make ends meet, while paying more and more, for an ever-growing, ponderous, expensive government sector that acts as a wet blanket on the shrinking private sector.

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