Vernon’s power production future debated

Vernon Planning Commission members Bob Spencer, standing at left, and Patty O’Donnell display a large photo of the Vermont Yankee site Monday during a meeting about the town’s energy production future. Photo by Mike Faher/VTDigger
VERNON – As residents try to imagine Vernon’s energy future, some say the former nuclear town should think small.

Officials and experts gathered Monday to discuss how Vernon might continue to produce electricity – whether on or off Vermont Yankee property – and possibly profit from it via jobs and tax revenue. The session included talk of gas plants, solar arrays, a hydroelectric partnership and an energy research facility.

There also were warnings that the town shouldn’t try to find another big generator. Brian Otley, Green Mountain Power chief operating officer, said he believes large facilities like Vermont Yankee and a recently proposed gas-fired plant will “start to fade into the background” in favor of a less-centralized power grid.

Brian Otley
Brian Otley, Green Mountain Power chief operating officer. Photo by Mike Faher/VTDigger

“We see a future not too far out where energy is produced very locally, energy is moved very short distances (and) energy is stored for use later,” Otley said.

Not everyone in Vernon is on board with such thinking. Many believe the town should keep its options open in order to capitalize on the electrical infrastructure that Vermont Yankee left behind.

“We’re not discounting anything,” Planning Commissioner Patty O’Donnell said. “Our plan is to re-energize Vernon – whatever that’s going to look like.”

After more than four decades in operation, Vermont Yankee stopped producing power at the end of 2014. Decommissioning likely won’t happen rapidly. Plant owner Entergy is preparing the site for SAFSTOR, a period of dormancy under which radiological cleanup can take up to 60 years.

The plant’s closure has left Vernon at a crossroads. Not only has the town lost its largest taxpayer and employer; at least some of the Vermont Yankee land will be unavailable for decades due to decommissioning activities and spent fuel storage.

Members of the town’s Selectboard and Planning Commission have been among those working to find solutions. Lately, they’re getting help from the Vermont Council on Rural Development, which organized a months-long “community visit” planning process in Vernon.

“The process around the community visit has really been to say, ‘What’s within our power, what’s realistic, what are some of the opportunities?’” said Paul Costello, VCRD executive director.

The council scheduled Monday’s meeting to examine Vernon’s future as a power producer. There are two major factors working in the town’s favor on that front.

First, there is a large electrical switchyard owned by Vermont Electric Power Company adjacent to the Vermont Yankee property. Even with an expected influx of hydroelectric power into the regional grid, officials say that switchyard still will have capacity for additional power generation.

In other words, “there’s an empty socket where you can plug something in,” said Kerrick Johnson, VELCO’s vice president of strategy and communication.

Second, there is continuing receptiveness to Vernon playing host to a power-production facility. The latest evidence is a March vote where Vernon overwhelmingly backed a proposed 600 megawatt, natural gas-fired power plant that might be located near Vermont Yankee.

Chris Recchia
Vermont Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia, left, listens as Kerrick Johnson of VELCO makes a point during an energy meeting Monday in Vernon. Photo by Mike Faher/VTDigger

“You certainly do have the infrastructure, and you certainly have the willingness as a host community,” said state Public Service Department Commissioner Chris Recchia, who was among the panelists at Monday’s meeting.

That gas plant effort was suspended, however, when Kinder Morgan’s nearby gas pipeline project was put on hold indefinitely. Recchia noted that “we have a gas shortage in the region, particularly in southern New England,” but he offered no prediction that the Kinder Morgan pipeline project will be revived anytime soon.

Vernon officials also have examined a wood-fired biomass power plant. “For various reasons, it wasn’t determined to be politically or financially viable,” said Bob Spencer, Planning Commission chairman.

That doesn’t mean the town is out of options. Monday’s brainstorming session included brief mention of solid-waste gasification, whereby municipal waste can be used to produce power.

Spencer called that a “long shot,” but Recchia didn’t dismiss the waste-gasification concept out of hand. Despite likely political difficulties, “there’s no technical reason that you cannot do those in a manner that meets all air-quality and water-quality concerns,” he said.

Other possibilities mentioned at the session included development of a liquified natural gas facility; a potential town partnership with whoever buys TransCanada’s Vernon hydroelectric station; and construction of solar arrays.

There didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for solar development in Vernon. Local officials question whether there will be enough land for significant solar development, though they will look into the matter in conjunction with Green Mountain Power.

Two representatives of that utility advised town officials to think of a future in which major power plants are a thing of the past.

“The original (electric distribution) model was a small number of very large plants piping energy down long lines,” Otley said. “That was the most cost-effective, most reliable way to deliver power back in the day. Technologies now are emerging every day that are undermining that.”

He and Josh Castonguay, Green Mountain Power’s chief innovation executive, talked about “microgrids” and “islanding” – ways in which power is produced on a smaller scale, then stored locally and controlled locally.

Advocates say that approach can increase efficiency and improve reliability and resiliency, leaving a local grid less vulnerable to problems elsewhere. One example of how such concepts already are in play is a Green Mountain Power solar and battery-storage system in Rutland.

“Maybe Vernon can be the first town of its size to island, to microgrid – this variety of technologies,” Otley said. “That’s a very different vision than trying to recapture a big plant.”

In that sense, Otley suggested, the suspension of Vernon’s gas plant project might be “a blessing in disguise.”

Power generation wasn’t the only topic featured at Monday’s meeting. For example, officials talked about fiber optics, given that VELCO has a high-speed internet network and Vernon has expressed a desire to tap into one.

Also, town officials disclosed that they’ve been thinking about an energy-research center.

One recommendation that came from Monday’s session is further planning work, with possible state and federal funding to support it. Vernon needs to hone its vision for the future, Johnson said.

“We can be the most helpful,” Johnson said, “the greater the clarity you have on exactly what you’re seeking to accomplish.”

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  • Paul Richards

    The best use of the facility is a brand new, carbon free modern nuclear plant.

    • William Hays

      Never happen, Paul. That makes too much sense. Hate to see all those solar-, and wind-, tax breaks and subsidies go to waste! Spain and China need our money.

  • John McClaughry

    Vernon would be a great site for a compact, walkaway safe, 200Mw Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, burning up the stored fuel rods already on the site. Too bad a LFTR isn’t approved by the NRC, thanks to forty years of stout opposition from the light water reactor industry.

  • Matt Fisken

    “Power generation wasn’t the only topic featured at Monday’s meeting. For example, officials talked about fiber optics, given that VELCO has a high-speed internet network and Vernon has expressed a desire to tap into one.”

    Keep dangling that carrot…

    From seven years ago:

    Vermont’s smart-grid project will include a statewide fiber optic build-out by Velco to enhance Vermont’s grid, improve interconnections with surrounding states and Quebec and facilitate statewide Internet broadband access.

    Tom Evslin, chief recovery officer for Vermont, said Velco’s planned fiber-optic network will deliver affordable Internet access to areas of the state that were paying exorbitant fees for the service and to areas that currently have no service at all.

    The fiber-optic system will also transmit information such as meter readings and allow schools and health facilities to communicate with similar organizations around the world.

  • Willem Post

    Brian Otley: “We see a future not too far out where energy is produced very locally, energy is moved very short distances (and) energy is stored for use later.”

    That is the GMP prescription for expensively subsidized wind and solar energy at 3 – 5 times NE wholesale prices.

    Utility-scale battery-based energy storage is very expensive. Lithium-ion has almost reached its theoretical limit, according to Elon Musk.

    According to Donald Jessome, CEO and president of TDI New England, 200 megawatts of the recently approved, 1,000-megawatt, high-voltage DC line, owned by the Blackstone group, is reserved for Vermont.

    Vermont has an option to purchase 200 megawatts, but Jessome said he doesn’t expect the state (read GMP) to take advantage of that option. Apparently, Green Mountain Power, et al., prefer to buy much higher-cost wind and solar energy from a variety of local suppliers.

    • Willem Post


      Large quantities of H-Q energy could be transmitted with HVDC systems to NE, such as the approved 1,000 MW Blackstone-owned HVDC system, of which 200 MW is reserved for Vermont

      GMP refuses to take advantage of it.

      The issue of different grid frequencies would be eliminated by the HVDC systems.

      Thus 50 Hz AC energy from H-Q hydro plants would be converted to DC, transmitted, and converted to 60 Hz AC energy in NE, to supplement any variable wind and solar energy in NE, instead of using NE gas-fired, CO2 emitting, OCGTs and CCGTs.

      Having more, low-cost*, steady, not variable, not intermittent, near-CO2-free, hydro energy from Hydro-Quebec would be the best way to get all the sectors of Vermont’s economy moving again.

      * About 6-7 cents/kWh, plus 1.0 c/kWh for transmission, adjusted based on NE wholesale
      prices, which have been 4.5-5 c/kWh for the past 5 years

      • William Hays

        Why does QC generate at 50 Hz? Do they buy European equipment?

        • It’s maddening, the frequencies are something like 60.01 and 59.9 so you can’t do an AC connection, and more importantly, we can’t use the massive hydro-driven rotors to help stabilize our grid as renewables increase. I still haven’t seen anything about how to stabilize a micro-grid without rotor mass. GPS in every one of the thousands of micro-inverters hanging on every solar panel out there?

        • Jan van Eck

          They do not. H-Q is at 60, same as the rest of North America.

          The amount of power H-Q generates is staggering: 60 monster hydro installations and one nuclear plant (675 MW). Some of the hydro plants:
          * Robert Bourassa 5,616 MW
          * LaGrande 4 2,779 MW
          * LaGrande 3 2,417 MW
          * LaGrande 2A 2,106 MW
          * Beauharnois 1,903 MW this is across the St. Lawrence River at Couteau-du-Lac, requiring the entire St. Lawrence to flow through, at a drop of about 80 feet
          * Manic 5 1,596 MW 140 BIllion cu. meters of storage!
          * LaGrande 1 1,436 MW
          * Rene-Levesque 1,244 MW
          * Bersimis 1 1,178 MW
          * Jean Lesage 1,145 MW
          * Manic 5 1,064 mw
          * Outardes 3 1,065 MW

          And there is the power they buy for less than 1 cent from Churchill Falls, and re-sell to the US: 5,428 MW

          And Ste-Marguerite 3, with a 1,000-ft vertical drop, figure 882 MW, and S-M 1 & 2 also up there;

          And plenty more to come, with over 570 dams, 359 are “large” meaning they swallow Vermont. Enough?

          • Looking at Oak Ridges’ FNET project, Canada and the US are split into East and West with Quebec and Texas their own fiefdoms. I’m guessing there are no AC connections between any of the 4 regions. But the sight of national real time frequency display (enabled by GPS boxes plugged into AC and the internet) makes me think that a micro inverter with GPS could contribute to stability. Micro-gridders, how will frequency be managed?

          • Willem Post

            Thank for the frequency input.

            HQ has about 5000 MW of underused hydro capacity, but GMP is refusing to use even 200 MW of that, and HQ is building 5000 MW more.

            Instead, GMP is on a microgrid/islanding kick at all cost.

            The whole thing is totally nuts.

            To forego low cost clean hydro in favor of expensive wind and solar is purposely setting up another headwind against Vermont’s eco my

          • Jan van Eck

            Quebec insists, as a matter of national pride, that Newfoundland cannot trans-ship their power from Churchill Falls Labrador to US markets over Quebec soil, so NFLD is forced to sell it to HQ, and HQ then ships it overland on HQ wires for resale to US customers, effectively slicing NFLD out of their market. Thus that vast amount of power is displacing, for now, other reserves developed at LaGrange. To find another outlet for power, HQ has built a dedicated HV line from James Bay (600 mi N of Montreal) to just outside Boston, neatly displacing thermal.

            So the 5,000 MW is not “underused,” it is not used at all, and HQ is valiantly attempting to find a home for that power. Plus, HQ has made a deal with the Cree and Inuit to develop more rivers further north, so at least another 5,000 MW is coming on-line. Also, HQ will ship Ontario wind surplus of 1,000 MW along the TDI cable to NY, with another 2,000 right behind.

            There is a vast amount of H-Q hydro power out there.

          • Willem Post


            The frequency is the same (60 Hz), but not the phase.

      • Willem Post


        From GMP’s viewpoint, it is understandable not to go with the 200 MW, because it does very little for GMP’s ASSET BASE, on which GMP is allowed to earn about 9%/y.

        That means, the Vermont economy, and already-struggling households and businesses have to do additional suffering, because GMP, for business reasons, prefers heading for more expensive wind and solar energy, and for “islanding” and “microgrids”.

        GMP distribution grids, with many PV systems, would need expensive energy storage systems for damping minute-to-minute output variations (due to variable cloudiness), so “islanding” and “microgrid” games can be played.

        All this is totally nuts from a proper Vermont energy policy viewpoint, but the PSB and Shumlin’s renewable energy posse are OK with it.

        The 200 MW could provide at least 1.3 MWh/y of low-cost, steady, dispatchable hydro energy.

        This would be in addition to the existing Hydro-Quebec power purchase agreement, PPA, of about 1.25 MWh/y.

        • Willem Post


          not 1.3 MWh/y, but 1.3 million MWh/y
          not 1.25 MWh/y, but 1.25 million MWh/y

  • Ooh I am liking Green Mountain’s forward-thinking, local focus in recognizing emerging new energy paradigms!! We can afford to be smart at junctures such as these. Why repeat historic failures and subject ourselves and our futures to known, unnecessary, and extremely high risk, when there are so many known and multiplier benefits to embracing new design and technology? Good show, and hoorah for standing up for high-level thinking!

  • Willem Post

    “The original (electric distribution) model was a small number of very large plants piping energy down long lines,” Otley said. “That was the most cost-effective, most reliable way to deliver power back in the day. Technologies now are emerging every day that are undermining that.”

    Countries with higher wind and solar energy on the grid invariably have higher household electric rates. Figure 7 shows Denmark and Germany having the highest household rates in Europe.

    Denmark and Germany have “microgrids” and “islanding”, but their household energy costs, eurocent/kWh are out off the charts.

    It is best to learn from them, than ideate “pie in the sky”.

    See line items on German household electric bills in this URL.$file/160122%20BDEW%20zum%20Strompreis%20der%20Haushalte%20Anhang.pdf

    • William Hays

      Interesting factoids: according to the U. S. Energy Information Administration (new one, to me), Hawaii has the highest residential electricity prices in the country (May 2016) at $0.370/kWh, as they have no natural generating sources. #2 is NEW YORK STATE ($0.201/kWh). No fracking! CT comes in third at $0.198. Dunno why. More Democrats, perhaps. VT and NH are tied at fifth-place ($0.175), just a tad less than Alaska. Surprisingly, CA comes in at $0.163, below MA and RI. Sorry. My residential rate is $0.0685 in Montana, and I live way in the boonies!
      No wind-, or solar-, energy here. It all gets sold to San Diego, CA.

    • John Greenberg

      “Countries with higher wind and solar energy on the grid invariably have higher household electric rates. ”

      China? India?

    • Willem Post


      Microgrids, with many PV systems, require battery energy storage systems to reduce disturbances, as PV energy varies from minute to minute, due to variable cloud cover. Southern California and southern Germany are implementing such storage systems, which add to their high household electric rates.

      Thank the Lord, Vermont is not yet a leader.

      The storage systems would be an expensive addition to the grid.

      The cost of that storage likely would be “socialized”, i.e., charged to rate payers, not to PV system owners.

      See this URL for storage cost, c/kWh, for a wall-hung TESLA battery unit, offered by GMP.

      That cost would be IN ADDITION to the cost of PV solar, for which GMP is paying an owner about 19 c/kWh.

      GMP could have bought that on-peak energy at 6 – 7 c/kWh, at wholesale.

  • Willem Post

    “Maybe Vernon can be the first town of its size to island, to microgrid – this variety of technologies,” Otley said. “That’s a very different vision than trying to recapture a big plant.”

    It would be much better for the Vernon site to have a 600 MW, 60% efficient, gas-fired, combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant, operating at 90% capacity factor, in base-loaded mode.

    Production = 600 x 8760 x 0.90 = 4,730,400 MW/y, about 77.5% of all energy supplied to VT utilities.
    Capital cost = 600 x $1.2 million/MW = 720 million.
    Gas energy cost = 3413/0.60 x $2.5/million Btu = 1.422 c/kWh
    Other costs = 2.5 c/kWh
    Total cost = 3.922 c/kWh
    NE average grid prices have been 4.5 – 5.0 c/kWh for the past 5 years, i.e., the plant would be profitable WITHOUT SUBSIDIES.
    The grid system capacity already is in place.

    Looks like a no brainer to me, instead of pie in the sky.

    • Mattt Davis

      Sure but where is the gas going to come from and who is going to invest in the construction of the plant? It looks good on paper but with the potential volatility of gas prices what might the numbers looks like in ten years? 15 years? 20 years? I personally would not be willing to invest in technology whose days may be numbered in terms of profitability. And, natural gas is highly subsidized. Not sure what makes you think it is not. I’m surprised that with the coming food waste laws people are not more supportive of an anaerobic digester possibly coupled with a wood biomass plant and co generation . Partner it with a food hub/venture center and it would be a win/win for the local community.

      • Willem Post


        Food and manure digesters to produce methane to generate electricity and heat are very small energy sources suitable for a large farm, likely less than 0.5% of Vermont’s 6,100,000 MWh/y to utilities.

        There is an abundance of natural gas in the US for many years.

        We are exporting it as LNG to east Europe, etc.

        If gas increases in price, all other goods and services will increase in price as well.

        During winter, solar output could be near zero, if panels are covered with snow and ice when peak demand occurs.
        In NE solar output is near zero, or zero, about 75% of the hours of the year.
        In NE wind output is near zero, or zero, about 40% of the hours of the year.
        Often, solar + wind is near zero during many hours of the year, per the real-time, ISO-NE grid status website.

        The energy of gas-fired CCGT plants is low-cost, and STEADY, 24/7/365, i.e., HIGH QUALITY energy

        • Matt Davis

          I appreciate the statistics related to wind and solar but I don’t think they are relevant to addressing my point. Sure, natural gas is currently plentiful due to fracking, but I am not aware of any pipeline that currently brings ng to Vernon, and this point is raised in the article as well. A natural gas plant with no gas is pointless. Currently the EROI for ng is poor and is only going to get worse as the sweet spots are exploited. Hence my point regarding future costs which you neglected to address. In the case of Vernon, with no current pipeline to supply gas, who is going to invest in this hypothetical? In regards to digestors, there is huge potential, especially when considering the quantity of food waste that will be looking for a home in coming years. Currently, the UK has 500Mw of production from digesters and this is increasing every year. It seems you think the shift towards locally generated power is only good for GMP, but do you not understand efficiency?

        • Willem Post

          Addition to above comment regarding wind and solar energy:

          That means any missing energy, to satisfy demand at any time, has to be provided by almost ALL traditional generators almost all the time.

          All of them have to be kept in good working order, staffed and fueled for whenever they are needed.

          These generators do not need wind energy to function, but wind energy definitely cannot be functional without these generators, i.e., wind energy is a grid-disturbing cripple, or acts as an unsteady drunk disturbing church service.

          Without the always-available output of these generators, Germany’s economy, including its industrial powerhouse, would become non-functional.

          • Willem Post


            Note the small GMP methane.


            On a contracted and self-production basis, the GMP expected energy mix in 2016 is as follows:

            Traditional, 81.8: Large hydro (Hydro-Quebec), 22.9; VT hydro (existing), 8.9; Market purchases*, 35.7; Nuclear, 13.7; Oil/Gas, 0.6 (GMP peaking plants)
            Renewables+, 18.2: Hydro (new), 1.3; Methane, 0.6; Wind, 8.7; Wood, 5.4

            * Purchases on the wholesale market, which trades the NE grid energy mix.
            + If GMP sells RECs, it cannot claim the energy as renewable, and Vermont cannot count it towards 90% RE goals.

            On a physical basis, GMP obtains energy from the NE grid, which had the following mix in 2015:

            NE-generated, 85: Gas, 41.3; Nuclear, 25.1; RE, 7.7; Hydro, 6.4; Coal, 3.1; Oil, 1.5
            Net external ties, 16.5: New Brunswick, 3.2; Quebec, 10.2 (Hydro-Quebec); New York, 3.1
            Pumped storage: -1.5

          • Matt Davis

            I’m well aware of these statistics. I still don’t get your point at all. The article is about Vernon’s energy future and I suggested considering biomass plants (digester and wood with cogen). This is not pie in the sky, unlike a NG plant in Vernon as you have proposed. You can spout all the equations and statistics you want, (and this is the enginerd mantra right?) but it doesn’t seem to have any relevance to this article.

    • William Hays

      Gas, you say? Horrors!

    • Willem Post


      NE average grid prices have been 5.0 c/kWh for the past 5 years, i.e., the plant would be profitable WITHOUT SUBSIDIES, and paying federal and state taxes on profits.
      Profit = 4,730,400 x (50.00 – 39.22)/1000000 = $51 million/y
      Plant service life = 40 years

      • Matt Davis

        Sure this is a fun mental exercise but without a gas pipeline to Vernon a NG plant is pointless. This was discussed in the article so am I missing something? Additionally the EROI for NG is quite low due to fracking and will only get lower as the sweet spots are exploited. There may be an oversupply of gas presently but what about down the road? And what about the fact the NG industry is highly subsidized? In regards to digesters, the UK currently has approximately 500MW is production capacity and it is increasing. There is significant potential here and there are multiple benefits from this technology. This is no longer “on the farm” technology and with the food waste stream and other non-farm sources, it is worthy of consideration for Vernon IMO. I get that you think that more localized generation is being advocated by GMP purely for financial reasons, but clearly there are significant benefits from more regional generation.

        • Willem Post

          The UK has about 60 million people and 500 MW and Vermont has 0.6 million and 5 MW? Big deal.

          • Jan van Eck

            UK just approved a new nuclear plant at Hinckley Point, for 3,200 MW of continuous power, built by the French, and partly financed by the Chinese.

            The deal includes provisos for yet another nuclear plant designed by the French, and another designed, built and financed by the Chinese. So, five new plants, with Hinckley to have six independent reactors. Britain will go all-nuke, all the time. Britain will have a solid base of power for industry and electric rail, catapulting it ahead of Germany, which will be forced to go back to its closed coal plants to stay even.

          • John Greenberg

            What is the price of HInckley Point’s power?

          • Jan van Eck

            We will find out after it is built and they start charging for it, now won’t we? You cannot seriously expect me, not a party to the project, to be able to tell you that. I am not the Oracle.

          • John Greenberg


            Since you thought you knew enough to be touting this plant in the first place, you should have known that the British government has guaranteed a “strike price” for its power at 92.50 pounds.per MWH (or 89.50 if EDF builds another plant at Sizewell). At present, the wholesale price of electricity in the UK is about 44 pounds per MW. At the moment, the British pound is at roughly $1.30 to the dollar. So British ratepayers will be paying around 12 cents for Hinckley’s power.

            So for perspective, the new Searsburg wind project will cost VT ratepayers no more than 8.8 cents but probably around 4.8 cents after sale of RECs at roughly 4 cents.

            No oracular powers required.

          • Willem Post


            “So for perspective, the new Searsburg wind project will cost VT ratepayers no more than 8.8 cents but probably around 4.8 cents after sale of RECs at roughly 4 cents.”

            The acquisition cost to GMP will be about 4.8 c/kWh, after selling the REC to an out of state entity, which means that energy cannot be counted towards the 90% goal.

            Remember, the 8.8 c/kWh is only possible due to federal and state cash grants totaling about 35-40% of capital cost, plus accelerated depreciation over 5-6 years (tax savings).

            Without such lucrative subsidies the cost/kWh would be much higher.

            In addition, the unsteady wind energy is supplementary 24/7/365, is near-zero, or zero, about 40% of the hours of the year, which happens at random.

            The efficiency penalty imposed on the other generators supporting the variable, unsteady wind energy on the grid is suffered by these generators and/or is “socialized”.

            Any grid extensions, due to IWTs, are similarly “socialized”.

          • John Greenberg

            Geez Willem.

            What is the 12 cent strike price for Hinckley power if not a government subsidy? No subsidy, no plant.

            I’ve pointed out to you countless times that EVERY source of energy – including all those on the New England grid at the moment – has been the recipient of serious subsidies. In particular, every one of them receives accelerated depreciation (as do many other businesses as well).

            “Without such lucrative subsidies the cost/kWh [of EVERY KWh] would be much higher,” regardless of the generating source. To claim otherwise is completely spurious.

            Wind energy is not constant. Neither is energy demand. There’s a gaping difference between base load and peak demand which is filled every day by NON 24/7/365 generation.

            Finally, ALL transmission is “socialized” including the lines you want to be built to carry HQ power into New England.

          • Willem Post


            The HVDC lines would be privately owned, not subsidized.

            However, the $7 billion to build transmission in Texas to bring energy from windy west Texas to populous east Texas appears as a surcharge on electric bills, which makes wind look less costly than it is.

          • John Greenberg

            They are privately owned AND subsidized, just like wind and solar projects.

          • Willem Post

            The Block Island Wind Farm likely will be operational in late 2016. It is located 3.8 miles east of Block Island, Rhode Island.

            It has five wind turbines, each with a capacity of 6 megawatt.

            Each turbine is about 589 feet tall. Turnkey project cost is about $290 million.

            The estimated service life is about 25 years.

            The annual wind energy production would be about 105,000 megawatt-hour.

            This energy would be variable and intermittent, i.e., no wind, no energy. Other generators, likely gas-fired, would be required to provide supplementary energy on a year-round basis.

            The PPA calls for 24.4 cent the first year, increasing at 3.5% per year for 20 years; the rate would be 48.6 cents in the final year.

            For comparison, the Cape Wind PPA calls for 18.7 cents, increasing at 3.5% per year for 20 years.


          • Willem Post


            None of the traditional energy generators get anywhere near the cash grant subsidies that wind and solar energy get.

            German Grid Stability Issues: As asynchronous-wind turbine and PV solar system-generator energy becomes a greater percentage, and synchronous-generator energy a lesser percentage on the German grid, grid stability issues arise, i.e., excessive frequency variations, which often are exported to foreign grids.

            Irish Grid Stability Issues: The below URL shows excessive grid frequency variations, when asynchronous-wind turbine energy becomes a greater percentage, and synchronous-generator energy a lesser percentage on the Irish grid during high wind conditions. See figure 2.

            Wind energy generation had to be curtailed by 40% to “make room” for additional energy from traditional synchronous generators, likely gas-fired CCGTs, to stabilize grid frequency variations within the required range. See figure 3.

          • John Greenberg

            “None of the traditional energy generators get anywhere near the cash grant subsidies that wind and solar energy get.”

            So now you want to argue about the FORM in which the subsidies are given? Who cares? Surely not the recipients of the subsidies. (I am not sure that you’re right, by the way, but it really doesn’t matter: subsidies are subsidies.)

          • Willem Post

            Below is a table of federal subsidies for traditional and renewable energy for 2013. RE received 72.5% of the subsidies, but produced only 13.1% of all the energy.

            A subsidy dollar for nuclear is (60 y x CF 0.90) / (25 y x CF 0.18) = 12.0 times more productive than for variable, intermittent PV solar.
            A subsidy dollar for nuclear is (60 x 0.90) / (25 x 0.32) = 6.8 times more productive than for variable, intermittent onshore wind.


          • Matt Davis

            Sure present the data totally out of context to make your case. Perhaps you should consider the historic total subsidies awarded to the different energy sectors over the last 50 years or so. What you will find is the fossil fuel industry has received the most, far above what renewables have received to date. And, the fossil fuel industry continues to receive subsidies despite being incredibly profitable. Renewables are newer technology, and the subsidies are for the completion of new projects, not for continued support of these projects. Wind has a very high EROI while fossil fuels are low and getting lower. In some cases one barrel of oil to make one barrel. Why not protest that?

          • John Greenberg


            I have demonstrated in considerable detail why your use of these NEI statistics is totally flawed and useless. Please see and :// and

          • Willem Post


            The EIA prepares annual subsidy reports, per request of Congress

            You may think the reports are useless, but people in Washington, who run the government, do not.

          • John Greenberg

            I didn’t say anything about the EIA report, and I didn’t suggest it is “useless.” I spoke to “YOUR USE” of it, which is highly misleading, to put it charitably.

  • These meetings should have been held six years ago before Gov. Shumlin decided that the state and Vernon would be better off with Vermont Yankee closed, hundreds of high paying jobs eliminated, families uprooted, millions in tax revenue lost and the local economy harmed.

    These consequence were an easily predictable by-product of the “Ready, Fire, Aim” style of governance that has characterized the Shumlin administration.

    Now the good people of Vermon and surrounding communities are paying the price of Gov. Shumlin’s less than thoughtful actions.

    On the other hand, New York Gov. Cuomo is working to keep a nuclear plant open in order to help achieve clean air standards, preserve high paying jobs, preserve tax revenue and economically protect local communities. This could have happened in Vermont.

    Sadly, it will be very difficult for the people in the Vernon area to duplicate the economic output previously provided by VY regardless of the number of meetings held.

    • Matt Davis

      VY couldn’t compete in the NE Grid marketplace. That’s why Entergy closed the plant. SImple as that. It was a 40 year plant. Do you think it was going to continue to operate effectively indefinitely?

    • Willem Post


      Closing VT Yankee added about 4,730,400 MWh/y x 0.3296 Mt/CO2/MWh (NE grid CO2 intensity) = 1,559,140 Mt CO2/y to the NE grid, as the energy was replaced by mostly gas-fired CCGTs, courtesy of insane energy policy in Vermont, and in New England, and in the US.

      To OFFSET that quantity of CO2 would require several billion dollars of wind and solar investments.

      BTW, I was in the US Army.

      The correct expression on the firing range is: “Ready; Aim; Fire”.

      • Willem Post


        Below is the capital cost estimate to replace VT Yankee energy, assuming 50% wind and 50% solar.

        Wind = 2,365,200/( 8760 x 0.30) x $2.5 million/MW = $2.250 billion
        Solar = 2,365,200/(8760 x 0.14) x $3.5 million/MW = $6.743 billion
        Total = $8.993 billion

        That energy would be variable energy, requiring 24/7/365 baby-sitting by the NE traditional (fossil, hydro, nuclear, etc.) electrical generator plants.

      • Willem:

        “Ready, Aim, Fire” is the correct expression on the firing range and just about every responsible business and public organization.

        But sadly, the Shumlin administration’s performance has managed to turn the expression and practice into “Ready, Fire, Aim”……..and that has proven to be a huge and costly problem with the consequences hitting the pocketbooks of all Vermonters.

        • Willem Post


          I know you reversed it on purpose to illustrate the Shumlin approach.

          He may not have served in the military, never been on a firing range, where you learn the correct procedure of acting, as it would otherwise cause mayhem, or worse.