Energy

Scott urged to support ‘green’ energy initiatives

solar
These solar panels are part of a 2.2-megawatt generating facility at the former Green Mountain Race Track site in Pownal. The town’s total generating capacity will soon more than double, with up to three new solar projects planned or under construction. Photo by Holly Pelczynski /Bennington Banner

Backers of renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts in Vermont called on Gov. Phil Scott on his first day in office to not back away from their causes.

“We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, support Vermont’s commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency and urge you to oppose any retreat from it,” read the one-paragraph statement contained in a letter presented Thursday afternoon to the newly sworn-in governor.

The letter was signed by 16 organizations, including the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. It was presented to the Republican governor along with the names of the 650 people who signed on.

“Essentially, it’s our organizations and these 650 Vermonters urging Vermont’s elected officials to recommit to renewables and efficiency,” said Ben Walsh of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, one of the letter signers.

Ben Walsh, an energy advocate with VPIRG, stands outside before a hearing in September 2013. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger
Ben Walsh, an energy advocate with VPIRG, stands outside before a hearing in September 2013. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger

In addition to Scott, the letter Thursday was delivered to the Statehouse mailboxes of all 180 lawmakers. Following Scott’s inaugural address, Walsh said he handed the letter to Jason Gibbs, the governor’s chief of staff. The groups weren’t looking for a lot “pomp and circumstance,” added Walsh, VPIRG’s climate and energy program director.

Scott’s spokesperson, Rebecca Kelley, said Thursday evening: “As Gov. Scott said during the campaign, he supports renewable energy but believes we can achieve our goals while protecting our ridgelines.”

Scott has called for a moratorium on large-scale wind projects, pushing for local communities to have more input in the siting process. That’s a change from his predecessor, Gov. Peter Shumlin, a big booster of wind projects in the state.

Letter signers contacted Thursday said they are heartened that the new governor has spoke in support of the goal of getting 90 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2050.

Johanna Miller of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, a letter signer, said she looks forward to working with Scott to move toward achieving that goal in a “smart, strategic and affordable way.”

Austin Davis of 350 Vermont, another organization signed onto the letter, said he believed it was important for the groups to get their message out at the beginning of the session. With many first-year lawmakers, and new faces in higher offices, including Scott, the time was right to “reaffirm” the state’s renewable energy goal and commitment to get there, he said.

“Even the most supportive (people) need to know that you are keenly tapped into that goal,” said Davis, 350 Vermont’s policy and communication coordinator. “It’s really just a matter of making sure it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

Walsh said Scott’s position on wind does raise concern. That concern was echoed by Miller, VNRC’s energy and climate action program director.

Both Walsh and Miller said they hoped Scott would reconsider his opposition to wind.

“Our opinion is banning any particular (renewable energy) technology doesn’t make sense for Vermont,” Miller said.

Other organizations signing the letter were Capstone Community Action, Citizens Awareness Network, Conservation Law Foundation, Local Motion, Renewable Energy Vermont, Rights and Democracy, VBike, Vermont Conservation Voters, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance and Vermont Interfaith Power and Light.

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  • Bruce Wilkie

    A huge part of Phil Scott’s support came from people who can see the insanity of shumlin’s energy policy. The lack of respect for the wishes of towns in regard to turbine sighting was a driving force for Scott voters. Time for a reality check for the blittersdorfians.

  • Peter Galbraith

    Vermont voters who want to protect our environment and our mountains almost certainly provided the votes that made the difference between Phil Scott winning outright and the election going to the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. Scott has been a consistent opponent of industrial wind on our ridgelines. Gov. Scott is not going to change his position to accommodate VPIRG.

    • Tom Finnell

      A windmill on every mountaintop in Vermont?

      We don’t need a turbine on every mountaintop in Vermont.
      However, there are many locations where wind power can profitably add to the sustainable mix we all desire without destroying ridge-lines or causing problems for anyone.
      I cite the Searsburg development as an example.
      Ski Areas seem to be another type of location where wind power could prove beneficial. They utilize enormous amounts of electricity, and their peaks can hardly be considered pristine.

      • I am not sure that the skiers would agree with you. While chairlifts, tram houses and gondolas may not be pristine the land around them is as well as the view. Skiers are Vermonters and out of state visitors who come to the mountain for solace not to hear the whining of a wind turbine or to have one obstruct their view of another mountain. Northern Quebec has turbines close along the Chic-Choc Mountain range and it has altered the experience for those backcountry skiers. Large Scale wind turbines don’t belong in Vermont as our topography doesn’t support their efficiency. We can have a sustainable mix with out large scale wind turbines.

        • John Greenberg

          Sara Jane Luneau-Swan:

          “We can have a sustainable mix with out large scale wind turbines.” Please explain how.

          • Smaller wind turbiines that provide energy for the facilities that they are near, solar panels on rooftops, well-sited solar arrays or farms, conservation, increased energy efficiency.

          • John Greenberg

            Sara Jane Luneau-Swan:

            Please show how you’re going to get anywhere near enough power to meet Vermont’s needs from “smaller wind turbines that provide energy for the facilities that they are near, solar panels on rooftops, well-sited solar arrays or farms, conservation, increased energy efficiency.”

            There are two obvious problems with your suggestion: first, the smaller the turbine, the more turbines you will need to achieve the same amount of power. The same applies to solar projects. Depending on how many sites you need for wind turbines and small-scale solar, there may not be enough potential sites to get the power needed either physically or politically.

            Second, for both technologies, the smaller the project, the higher its cost. There is already a lot of resistance in Vermont about existing rates, so raising them beyond what larger projects would necessitate is likely to be a hard sell politically.

            Put bluntly, your suggestions don’t sound realistic to me.

          • John, my two cents – I’d rather Vermont avail itself of new transmission from HQ (TDI project, etc.) than rely on proliferating ridgeline wind turbines and their environmental and reliability downsides. You know what I think we SHOULD have done, but that’s all in the rear view mirror. We need to look ahead. As I read McKibben, Worldwatch, etc. I see a planned energy scarcity as a forced means of promoting very difficult change – for example little or no airplanes, car, even meat for the “common man.” There’s got to be a better way, a “third way” of environmentally sustainable prosperity worthy of being embraced and empowered by individuals. As we struggle to turn that vague concept into reality, an environmental fait accompli like Quebec power that delivers clean-air power at an affordable, reliable cost seems a better choice for Vermont.

          • John Greenberg

            Guy:

            Your comment assumes that we can either buy more power from HQ or build more wind turbines. Why not both?

            The notion that HQ power is going to be priced at “reliable cost,” which I take to mean: cheap, also seems dubious. The TDI line is intended to convey up to 1,000 MW to points south of Vermont; we don’t need all that power. In other words, it will make HQ power available to a market roughly 10-20 times larger than Vermont’s. That’s a lot of demand for a very limited supply, which to me suggests that the price will NOT be low. Then there’s the cost of the line itself.

            I haven’t kept track of the percentage of VT power that is already under contract with HQ, but it’s not small. How dependent should we become on any one seller? My conversations with VT utility executives lead me to believe that they would be reluctant to exceed about 1/3 of the portfolio. How will you convince them to exceed whatever limit they decide on? Indeed, SHOULD you?

      • Jim Dudley

        Searsburg is a very poor example for many reasons!

        • John Greenberg

          Jim Dudley:

          “Searsburg is a very poor example for many reasons!”

          Care to name a few of them or are we supposed to guess?

    • stephen whitaker

      Nor should he.

      VPIRG has been over the top self-righteous and uncompromising in the wind issue.
      When I proposed to Paul Burns that we take a slower and more collaborative approach and bring more people into the discussion to work toward common ground, he simply demonized Annette Smith and said she was the cause of all the conflict. not believable.

      Governor Scott’s concern with the “fracturing” of Vermonters is well founded and addressing this should be a higher priority than any organizations’ idealistic and fear based energy independence goals. Neighbors hating and condemning neighbors while enjoying their solar kilowatts is no longer real community.

      We can take a breather on industrial wind and solar on ag lands fully investigate our options, i.e. medium scale wind towers along the Lake Champlain causeway, and quantify the conservation potential of super-insulating all housing and its massive jobs creation impacts to reduce load. Seriously.

    • Governor Scott is the first Republican I have voted for since moving to Vermont in 1980. The reason: his position on industrial wind and ridgetops.

      • Jim Rademacher

        Ray. I moved in 1978 and Scott was my first republican governor vote.

    • Lydia Pope France

      Yes, the people have spoken. And he didn’t just eek out a win, he won by a huge margin. We all know why, and he seems way too decent to change his position, especially at the request of those who did not support him. Plus, after the rabid support he got from Dems who were fed up with the status quo, I suspect he will want to keep us in his camp …

  • Governor Scott supports protecting our Vermont heritage, community and landscape. Scott believes in “green” energy projects that make economic sense and don’t negatively impact the Vermont we love. He would like to see communities and our state unite over projects that are well sited and make sense. Governor Scott knows that tourism is one of Vermont’s driving revenues and our Green Mountain vistas are worth protecting and are not replaceable. VPRIG and others will try to manipulate policies that go against protecting our environment or our communities as a means to generate money and power. Power that goes beyond the good of Vermont and is not for the public good. I am sure Scott’s legacy will not be trampling through our National Forest land erecting large scale wind turbines set on concrete pads. Scott will be the first to stand up rather then following in former Governor Shumlin’s footsteps, who found great pride in being the first one to deny the reason behind a National Forest.

  • We have to do more than protect our ridge lines when considering renewable energy development.

    Our scenic roadways, meadows, and neighborhoods have to be protected from the scourge of industrial scale solar development. Development that has advanced over the past six years with little of consequence accomplished in formulating and implementing meaningful siting and development standards.

    Just take a look at the giant solar developments lining our roadways. What you see is the product developer influence winning out over political leadership in Montpelier and what’s in the best long term interest of our state.

    Developers can continue their projects, but they have to be better considered and committed to protecting our natural beauty and neighborhoods.

    Its now up to to Gov. Scott to reverse the lack of seriousness that we’ve witnessed over the past six years and move to create meaningful siting and development standards for both wind and solar.

  • Jim Christiansen

    Time for a law that requires registered lobbyists to disclose where all their funding comes from. If you don’t want to be transparent to the Vermont voter, you don’t get to play with our lives and our dollars.

  • Lets remind VPIRG that renewable doesnt rhyme with ridgeline. Outside developers do not own our mountains and their lobbyists should know that by now.

    • John Greenberg

      Don Peterson:

      “Outside developers do not own our mountains….” Nice rhetoric. Does that mean that you support the Swanton wind project, since the developer DOES own the mountain?

      • Jim Christiansen

        I support projects that have to pass Act 250. But as you know, very few renewable energy projects on mountain tops could pass Act 250, so the legislature changed the rules for these projects at the expense of the voice of Vermonters. Vermonters, and the towns and cities they live in, have been trusted with a powerful voice in determining land use and development for every purpose but energy. It is time for this special interest travesty to change.

        • John Greenberg

          Jim Christiansen:

          1) “very few renewable energy projects on mountain tops could pass Act 250.” Actually, ALL energy projects are subjected to the Section 248 process, in which “the Board considers whether the proposed project meets ten statutory criteria (see 30 V.S.A. § 248, Appendix A, attached) These criteria include site-specific environmental criteria incorporated from Act 250, in addition to general issues such as need, reliability, and economic benefit.” psb.vermont.gov/sites/psb/files/publications/Citizens’%20Guide%20to%20248%20February%2014%202012.pdf

          2) “so the legislature changed the rules for these projects at the expense of the voice of Vermonters.” To my knowledge, this claim is false. Do you have any evidence for it?

          3) Utility projects (not just energy) ARE subjected to a different process. Unlike all other developments, they must show that they are in the “public good.” Would you subject ALL developments to these additional criteria? If not, why not?

          • Jim Cristiansen

            1. We agree, Act 250 and Section 248 are not the same. The voice and legal options of individuals and Towns/Cities is limited in Section 248 before the PSB when compared to the process of Act 250. That is why the Addison pipline protestors tried to get the pipeline project out from under the authority of the PSB last August.
            2. You are correct, while the rules have been amended over the years, they not changed. Mea culpa.
            3. Interesting non sequitur. Should there be additional criteria for all Act 250 projects? I don’t think so, but what do you have in mind?

          • John Greenberg

            Jim Cristiansen:

            The processes are different; the criteria are the same.

            As to additional criteria, they’re cited in the PSB quote above: need, reliability, economic benefit, etc. They’re not MY suggestions: they’re part of the Section 248 process and they are NOT part of the Act 250 process. That’s one reason why the processes are different.

            The Public Service Board has developed expertise in these areas, which Act 250 boards don’t need to have.

            I’m not suggesting that the system is perfect or can’t be improved.

            I am trying to dispel the myth that the Section 248 process is less rigorous than the Act 250 process and suggesting that those who would modify either should at least show WHY their suggestions are improvements over what we have now.

            For me, that begins with factual analysis which has been sorely lacking in VT Digger comments.

          • Stephanie Kaplan

            John Greenberg you obviously know very little about how the PSB applies the Act 250 criteria. The PSB has interpreted the Act 250 criteria very differently than Act 250 does and has ignored or reversed some of Act 250’s own interpretation and years of precedent, clearly for the purpose of approving projects that would not have met the criteria had they been reviewed by Act 250. Plus the PSB uses its “public good” standard to trump all the environmental criteria so even when they conclude that one or more of the Act 250 criteria are met, they rule that the “public good” supersedes the environmental degradation. The Deerfield Wind project is sad an example of that.

          • Stephanie Kaplan

            That should read – “…when one or more of the Act 250 criteria are NOT met, that is the project would NOT comply with one or more of the criteria, they rule that the “public good” supersedes the environmental degradation.”

      • Randy Koch

        Touché Mr. Greenberg, touché. How I love the cut and thrust of sincere debate!

  • Adam Maxwell

    It’s laudable that our new governor has said that the goals of 90% renewables by 2050 are important, but these goals MUST be hard and fast limits, and honestly, we need to blow these goals out of the water. And don’t kid yourselves folks, if we are going to reach our climate goals, we will need wind in Vermont’s windiest bits!

    I’m all about protecting our ridgelines, as long as we are talking about ensuring that the local ecosystems are preserved and not just subjective aesthetics. There are plenty of protections already in place to ensure that ridgeline wind isn’t damaging ecosystems anymore than any other necessary infrastructure. If there weren’t, wouldn’t groups like Vermont Natural Resources Council, Sierra Club, and the Conservation Law Foundation support a moratorium on ridgeline wind? (Cue the tinfoil hat folks saying that these organizations have been bribed by ‘Big Wind’)

    • Asher McLean

      Vermont Yankee provided more than half of Vermont’s energy needs when it was in service. Wind turbines and solar panels are great, but they’re not nearly enough to provide the bulk of our power needs.

      The smartest thing that Governor Scott could do would be to find a developer that can replace Yankee with a new, modern fission plant. Vermont wants to be a policy leader? Let’s show the United States that nuclear shouldn’t be feared, is not dirty, and is the only practical way that we’re going to cut carbon emissions until fusion plants become commercially viable in 50 years. If the left really wants to solve the problem of climate change, clean fission plants charging electric cars is the best answer.

      • John Greenberg

        Asher McLean:

        1) “Vermont Yankee provided more than half of Vermont’s energy needs when it was in service.” No it didn’t. At most, it provided around 1/3. By 2012, VT utilities had replaced all its power from other sources.

        2) “The smartest thing that Governor Scott could do would be to find a developer that can replace Yankee with a new, modern fission plant.”

        Two points need scrutiny. First, currently there is nowhere to dispose of spent-fuel. Those advocating more nuclear power should offer Vermont granite for a national repository to demonstrate “that nuclear shouldn’t be feared, is not dirty,” etc. No other industry has taken more than 60 years to fail to dispose of its waste products.

        Second, a new nuke would cost roughly double other generating sources supplying the New England market: http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf Who should bear the substantially higher cost entailed or the liability for any accidents? Who would finance the plant?

        • Asher McLean

          John, Vermont Yankee has been in operation since ’72, when electricity demands were significantly less than they are now. Electricity demands have increased since then. If you create a chart of average power output over its lifetime you’ll see what an incredibly successful power plant Yankee was. Up until its decommissioning, the plant was producing over 70% of all electricity generated in Vermont and it was an economic boon for the area.

          Spent fuel can’t be stored in Vermont granite because of a number of geographical factors. I’m not sure if you are being serious or if you just don’t much about the topic? You realize that they’re still going to be storing spent fuel at Yankee’s site, right?

          Every power generation method has drawbacks, but you have to view them relative to the drawbacks of other generation methods. Currently Vermont is still getting power from nuclear sources, just ones that are out of state. With regards to accidents, fission plants are incredibly safe.

          • John Greenberg

            Asher McLean:

            1) If you have evidence to show that VY supplied more than 1/3 of VT’s electrical consumption, please present it.

            2) “Spent fuel can’t be stored in Vermont granite because of a number of geographical factors/” DOE disagreed: Vermont’s granite was on the short list of potential sites for a national site until Congress chose Yucca Mountain for political reasons in 1982.

            A permanent repository would eliminate the need for on-site storage after the initial cool-down period and such as VY’s original design called for. Dry casks would not be needed for storage.

            3) “Currently Vermont is still getting power from nuclear sources….” VT utilities have bought small amounts of power from Millstone for decades. The Seabrook contract replaced roughly 1/3 of the VY contracts. Nuclear is now a much smaller portion of our portfolio.

            4) “Every power generation method has drawbacks, but you have to view them relative to … other generation methods.” Couldn’t agree more!

        • John, John – seriously….”other sources”? Care to explain to Asher just what those other sources were – e.g. lots of fossil fuel power from southern New England? And Seabrook nuke power? Asher, I’d love to talk with you more, my email is [email protected]. For what it’s worth it is highly unlikely that when the VY site is decommissioned (in as soon as 10 years, according to the proposed new owners), it will not be redeveloped as a nuclear plant. Right now, the early talk is for a data center or a “micro-grid” comprised of several small-scale power generators. But – it’s early yet.

          • John Greenberg

            Guy:

            Frankly, I’m not sure what all the “other” sources were. Among them was 60MW from Seabrook and at least one (and maybe more) contracts with wind projects from out-of-state.

            A number of years ago, Mary Powell correctly noted that short-term power prices have stayed unusually low since 2008. That being so, there is no rush to sign long-term contracts unless they’re REALLY cheap. As a consequence, GMP, at least, is buying a lot more power either in the market or from short-term contracts than it has in previous decades. Short-term, this has meant more natural gas.

            But it also means that, as good deals come along, GMP can pounce. I’ve already mentioned the 30MW 20-year deal GMP inked in 2015 with Iberdrola for Deerfield power at 4.8 cents. Meanwhile, solar prices continue to fall precipitously as well, meaning that long-term cheap solar contracts are on the horizon.

            The strategy is GMP’s, not mine. I’ve tried to describe it accurately.

          • Paul Drayman

            Just for clarity, is the goal contracts to purchase wind or solar as a financial arrangement or do we want to be producing and consuming renewable energy? There is a world of difference. When you turn the lights on almost anywhere in New England, including Vermont, you are using approximately 85% non-renewable sources,10 % hydro and about 5% renewable sources. The only fuel source increasing like a rocket for the generation of electricity is natural gas. Even the most optimistic view of development of wind and solar in the near future would change the RE mix in the energy sources only slightly. All of the nearly 100% RE we produce here comes back to us as approximately 85% non-RE. When you talk about purchase contracts by this company or that utility, you’re mostly talking about words on a piece of paper and dollars changing hands.

          • Paul Drayman

            Correction, All of the nearly 100% RE we produce here comes back to us as approximately 85% non-RE.

    • David White

      Renewable energy is a loaded term. Vt could have 100% real renewable energy from hydro purchased at rock bottom prices. Yet some how this is being ignored. Maybe John Greenberg would like to comment on this ?

      • John Greenberg

        David White:

        “Vt could have 100% real renewable energy from hydro purchased at rock bottom prices.”

        1) It ain’t necessarily so. A) Without new transmission lines, we are currently using more or less all the HQ power we can. B) GMP representatives have said there is no low-price assurance for future contracts when new transmission capacity becomes available. If the lines are built, we will be competing with a 20-times larger market to our south.

        2) The current HQ contract is basically market-priced, so its price will be “at rock bottom” for only as long as the NE market. It’s unlikely market prices will fall much from where they’ve been for the past few years. They were about double in 2007-8 and could easily rise to or past that in the next 20 years. Utility-scale wind and solar prices have already fallen below that in some areas, and could well do so here in the decades to come.

        3) Imported power produces far less taxes, jobs and economic activity than home grown.

        • David White

          Ain’t necessarily so translates to you have no idea if it is possible or not , the markets sets the price. With out tax susibies wind and solar are just not that efficient here? Large transmission line being installed in lake Champlain ?

          • John Greenberg

            David White:

            You’re right that I “have no idea if it is possible.” My point was that you don’t either.

            It’s also true that markets set prices. I’m guessing that prices are likely to be much higher than they were in the past. If new transmission lines are built, they won’t end in Vermont. The market to our south is about 10-20 as large as ours. So you’ll have supply limited by the size of the line(s) and demand vastly greater than just ours. In any market, that’s a recipe for a higher price.

            Also, the transmission lines won’t be free, either economically or environmentally.

            Finally, as I suggested to Guy Page above, there is a limit on how much power utility executives will be willing to buy from any one source. My guess is that the limit is somewhere in the range of 1/3 of the portfolio. We’re not that far from that now. But that’s just my guess.

            Subsidies are here and they’re not likely to go away. Unless Congress removes them, they remain part of the landscape.

  • Thanks for getting the message out. It’s very hard to see how we can eliminate 90% of our fossil fuel burning without wind power. And it’s even harder to see how continuing to burn that fuel will be better for Vermont than providing our fair share of clean safe and renewable wind power.

    • Why is it the Vermont’s power companies have said they don’t need or want to buy any more wind power at the present time?

      • John Greenberg

        David Dempsey:

        “Why is it the Vermont’s power companies have said they don’t need or want to buy any more wind power at the present time?” Please provide evidence to support this statement.

        VT utilities DID decline to buy power from 1 specific wind project, but subsequently GMP signed a 20MW contract with Iberdrola for power from the Deerfield project in Searsburg.

        As far as I know, your premise is false. Please convince me that I’m mistaken.

        • Hi John,
          I don’t no how to add a link to my comments. But one article about my comment was a Seven Days story written by Terri Hallenbeck titled Power Struggle: Vermont Utilities Don’t Want New Wind Energy. It was in Seven Days on October 7th, 2015. I have read a few other reports from different news outlets that are similar to this story. Sorry about my lack of computer skills or I would have posted the link for you.

          • John Greenberg

            Thanks David.

            Here’s the link: http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/power-struggle-vermont-utilities-dont-want-new-wind-energy/Content?oid=2933555.

            Google the title and when you get to the article you want, copy the URL and paste it as a link. That’s what I just did.

            Both Chris Recchia and Mary Powell suggest that, in Recchia’s words: “I think it’s more about the timing. GMP is a little long on power,” and in hers: “When it comes to buying more wind power, Powell said, “I wouldn’t say, ‘No, never.'”

            The Deerfield purchase I mentioned (noted in the article) was right around the time this was published, which may be part of the timing issue.

            As a variety of the sources quoted in the article suggest, it’s unlikely that the utilities will reject all future offers.

  • David Kelley
    • What is the big deal with these construction photos? We’ve built 14,000 miles of road in Vermont, and most were not built with the environmental care shown here. The difference? These will have near zero traffic, while the other 14,000 miles kill millions of creatures every year, and burn millions of gallons of irreplaceable oil, and permanently alter our atmosphere.

    • John Greenberg

      David Kelley:

      To my admittedly untrained eye, these photos look pretty much like ANY construction project in progress would look. Should we ban construction projects of any kind so that “this should never be allowed to happen again?”

      If not, why not?

      • Jim Christiansen

        Don’t ban them John, just subject them to the same Act 250 land criteria as any other project. Why not give Vermonters back their voice in determining land use for energy projects?

        • John Greenberg

          Jim Christiansen:

          Vermonters have a voice — if they choose to use it — at the Public Service Board where utility projects are reviewed and permitted.

          As ratepayers, Vermonters’ interests are represented in Board proceedings by the Department of Public Service (which thanks to the election is now answerable to Phil Scott).

          But the option of intervention is always possible, albeit often expensive, time-consuming, and difficult.

          Perhaps the new administration will come up with ways to improve the system to make it more user-friendly. The ball is now in the new governor’s court.

          As to the underlying issue of Act 250, please see my previous comment.

      • David Kelley

        On the ridge lines of the Green Mountain National Forest–with no Act 250 Review!?

    • I wonder how long would it take for those wind turbines to offset the amount of energy that it took for all those diesel trucks and machines so run up and down the mountain a hundred times during that road construction. And how long would they need to turn to offset the amount of energy needed to mine, transport, refine, transport, produce, transport, and finally assemble all of those turbines?

  • Candy Moot, Morgan, VT

    I’d be interested to know if anyone knows how much industrial wind developers (like David Blittersdorf) have contributed to VPIRG and these other “green” groups? Anyone know?

    • I believe that is public knowledge. What is NOT public is how much Koch Industries has spent in Vermont to SECRETLY sabotage wind and solar.

      • so, how do you know?

      • Chris Kayes

        On the contrary, it is public knowledge that the Koch brothers are adamantly against corporate welfare which includes government subsidies for things like oil, solar and wind. So yes, they would be against any government support of private corporation with public subsidies.

        • When we get “information”, we really need to know who is paying to have it delivered. When VPIRG advocates for wind power, they are funded by many small donations like mine. But when Koch secretly channels many millions to fake “grassroots” groups, to spread false information to scare people, to derail wind and solar, so that coal and fracking can continue and grow, that is unethical, messed up.

        • John Greenberg

          Chris Kayes:

          “…it is public knowledge that the Koch brothers are adamantly against corporate welfare which includes government subsidies for things like oil, solar and wind.”

          Yet it is also public knowledge that they’ve taken millions in subsidies over the years. Please see: subsidytracker.goodjobsfirst.org/prog.php?parent=koch-industries&company_op=starts&company=&free_text=&subsidy_op=%3E&subsidy=&subsidy_type=&sub_year=&state=&program=&agency=&city=&county= for details.

          Some examples: “a $62 million property tax abatement from Louisiana for Georgia Pacific,” “a separate $11 million tax credit from Louisiana in 2014,” “more than $20 million in subsidies through an Oklahoma program” etc. http://www.ibtimes.com/charles-koch-blasts-subsidies-tax-credits-his-firm-has-taken-195-million-worth-them-2034949

  • A moratorium is not a ban. It is a halt in order to obtain additional information from different sources. It is an effort to hear from those people most harmed and effected by the industrial wind projects. It is a time to ask questions like:
    1. Is Vermont willing to buy the homes and land of those people who have physical, mental, or financial problems associated with living near these structures?
    2. How many ridge-lines are we willing to sacrifice for stockholder profits?
    3. Who gets to determine what communities these structures will be spread across all communities, not just our most remote and beautiful areas.
    4. Are these structures directly filling Vermont’s energy needs instead of shipping power to other cities and states?
    5. Are we willing as Vermonters to destroy parts of our environment to save others.

    Those are a few of the questions I have that have not been adequately addressed to my satisfaction. Maybe a moratorium will help.

    • We are not sacrificing ridge-lines for profits, we’re putting towers on them to save the planet. Do not worry about whether their electricity gets shipped off. Electricity is electricity. Each turn of the blade reduces the need to burn coal or fracked gas, and it does not matter where. We also “ship maple syrup out of state”, and we ship a few things here from out of state as well.

  • Clarke Comollo

    No more ratepayers subsidizing industrial wind!!!! That’s why I voted for Scott!!! Let wealthier States take on that job. We’re all broke enough!!!

    • We get some of our electricity from Granite Ridge, in Southern NH, which burns 124 million cubic feet of fracked natural gas every day. Is that really okay? Should we keep doing that, so we don’t have to see a few wind turbines? And when the gas is gone, then what will our children do?

      • edward letourneau

        “…then what will our children do?” I doubt if fossil fuels will run out in the lifetime of anyone alive now. More oil and gas has been discovered in the past 10 years, they anyone ever suspected existed. Place that in the context of people have been saying we were going to run out of oil for the past 60 years.

        • PHIL GREENLEAF

          This comment is an example of the trivializing, negating conservative right on energy issues and many others. Bill Christian clearly posed the ethical dilemma we face and Ed (lieutenant obvious) comes down in the most convenient spot possible.”I doubt if fossil fuels will run out in the lifetime of anyone alive now.” While that may be true, but not certain at all, it is a weak, weak, weak argument against folks who are trying to put some creative positive thought on the matter.

        • Fossil fuel will get harder and harder to extract and will no longer support our needs, unless we very greatly change our methods. People debate how SOON it will happen but it WILL happen. And if we burn all the fossil fuels we know to exist, what will that do to our environment?

  • I voted for a Republican for governor for the first time since moving to Vermont in 1980. The reason is his stance on industrial wind developments on ridgetops.

  • Melodie McLane

    I wonder how many of these 650 people live next to a wind project? By “next to”, I mean just a few thousand feet. I’m betting not any. It’s easy to want something that doesn’t adversely affect you personally.

    • Paul Drayman

      Melodie, It is very likely that most of the 650 do not live in rural sectors. Most all of proposed wind projects have been voted down by townspeople in those areas by large margins. Try putting up 500′ wind towers in the areas that consume most of the electricity. It won’t happen. One of the first wind tower projects in Vermont was going to be placed next to Lake Champlain. Once that news got around, it was moved. Those towers were only a couple of hundred feet tall. Modern towers to blade tip are currently around 500′ tall. Blade span is around 250′ or more. By the way, those blades spend a great deal of their time motionless. The crazy thing is, even though they are not always generating, they are always generating income for the developers and the land owners.

      • Melodie McLane

        You are so right on all accounts Mr. Drayman, and I know that because I live 3800′ from the Georgia Mountain Wind project. Notice that I took the word “Community” out of that title, because there is nothing they are doing for our community up here on Georgia Mountain. The only thing they have done is tear apart our neighborhood, torture neighbors with sleepless nights with noise emitting from the project, and lower our home values. Blittersdorf gets rich, Burlington gets power, and we are the ones to sacrifice.

        • Paul Drayman

          As you mentioned “Burlington gets power”. That’s true, except that the electricity produced by those towers goes into the New England Grid. That power is the same power you use when you turn on a light almost anywhere in New England. It is only approximately 15% from renewable sources, of which 2/3’s of that is hydro-power and a portion of what’s left comes from wind. The reason they can say what they say is based on a financial arrangement between Georgia Mtn, Burlington and others. Almost all electrical production is handled that same way.
          My actual point is, you could build towers on every hilltop, mountain and ridge line in Vermont (believe me, there are those that would) and you would change the proportion of renewable to fossil fuel produced electricity that we use, only slightly.
          The solutions to our energy/renewable dilemma will require a transformation to locally produced and consumed power, which also brings significant obstacles to surmount on many issues.

        • Paul Drayman

          Melodie, I also shake my head every time I see a sign or those words that say “Community” Wind. Unfortunately the majority of that industry is being promoted in a very deceptive way. I feel that wind electrical generation is an honorable endeavor that has been hijacked by those, somewhat less than straight-shooters, feeding off of people who support environmental causes.

      • John Greenberg

        Paul Drayman:

        “The crazy thing is, even though they are not always generating, they are always generating income for the developers and the land owners.”

        Presumably, at least some land owners get rent which is not production-based, so for them, your statement is probably correct. Please explain how developers are “always generating income” when projects are not generating power. Since tax credits are based on production, to the best of my knowledge, your statement is false.

        • Paul Drayman

          I’m not sure that REC’s are the same as Tax Credits. Tax credits are still another financial advantage that developers can get, but they are not always available or in effect. Wind power producers contract with local utilities who pay them for electricity they produce while the blades are turning and the towers are on line on line. Still another income source are the REC certificates that can be bought and sold. REC’s are issued to a developer after their tower produces a certain amount of power. So yes they get the REC’s for producing power, but that tower can stay idle for hours or days. The REC is a financial incentive to build, In this case, Wind Towers…More later !!!

          • John Greenberg

            Paul Drayman:

            With the caveat that I’m neither a lawyer nor an expert, I’m pretty certain your analysis of RECs is incorrect. Put succinctly, RECs DO require actual energy production. Here’s how the Superior Court of New Jersey put it: ““One Renewable Energy Certificate represents the environmental benefits or attributes of one megawatt-hour of generated renewable energy,”

            There’s a lengthy legal discussion, with pages of notes and annotations here: “The Legal Basis for Renewable Energy Certificates,”
            http://resource-solutions.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/The-Legal-Basis-for-RECs.pdf. (The quote above is from page 5 of the pdf) In every case that I can see discussed, RECs are directly associated with megawatts produced.

            In short, your notion that an idle wind tower still produces RECs is, as far as I can determine, false. If you have evidence to the contrary, please produce it.

          • Paul Drayman

            You did not understand what I said. Yes, an REC certificate is earned for each megawatt that is produced. Aside from the fact that the developers have all the usual tax and income incentives of any business, they also have special incentives, both financial and legislative, that make building of these, wind fields for instance, economically feasible. Once an REC is issued to the producer, it is sold and bought on a market created for this purpose. The point I was making is that the owner of the REC can sell this artificial asset and create income by it even when the towers are not turning. Not a major point, but unique. And, if you live very close to wind towers, you will likely be subjected to all of the negative aspects of them that are spoken of often. In addition, when you observe them you will also notice that they sit idle much of the time. That also begs the question, why do we need to build so many more when the ones already there are only being used part time?

          • John Greenberg

            Paul Drayman:

            I understood your point the first time. I still believe you are wrong, as the link I posted suggests. Specifically, I do not believe that it is the case that “the owner of the REC can sell this artificial asset and create income by it even when the towers are not turning.”

            I hope someone more expert than I will chime in here.

      • We don’t put wind turbines in cities for the same reason we don’t put big dairy farms there. It’s not practical. Land is expensive and you’d be really close to a lot of people. Diary farms and wind turbines belong in Vermont. Where else in New England can you put a turbine 9000 feet from anyone, on a high windy spot?

    • I don’t think a single person in Vermont lives “a few thousand feet” from a turbine, unless it is on their own property and they’ve accepted it. It is rare to be under nine thousand feet. I wish I was nine thousand feet from the railroad and its crossing horn, or my neighbor’s dog, both of which are far louder than a wind turbine at 9000 feet, although I can live with them because people would think I was nuts if I said the dog or train whistle was causing serious health problems, and they’d be correct.

      • Melodie McLane

        Bill Christian we are 3,800′ from the Georgia Mountain project. How dare you pretend that you know what it is like to live that close to a wind project and compare the noise to a dog barking or a train whistle. Do those noises typically go on continuously, for hours on end, all night long? Serious health problems can be attributed to sleep loss, that is a fact. Sleep loss is experienced by the many, many neighbors who live much closer than 9,000′ to wind projects in Vermont. Stop pretending that it’s not a problem, you know better because we have had this conversation many times before.

  • My renewable energy plan: If you support solar or wind or both, put a panel and/or a turbine on YOUR roof or in YOUR backyard.

  • carroll billado

    Why can we buy power from Hydro Quebec, it cost a third of what wind and solar cost.

    • John Greenberg

      carroll billado:

      Please provide some evidence for your statement. To my knowledge, the most recent HQ contract is now priced at roughly the same price or higher than GMP’s most recent purchase of power from the Deerfield wind project.

      • John Greenberg says:

        “To my knowledge, the most recent HQ contract is now priced at roughly the same price or higher than GMP’s most recent purchase of power from the Deerfield wind project.”

        Now that statement says essentially nothing. He doesn’t cite the prices involved or how much power is to be provided for the HQ or Deerfield contracts. Nor does he mention the price of all of the other industrial solar power being generated, which is much higher than anything coming from HQ based on info on the DPS web site. Prices that go as high as 30 cents per kWh.

        Meanwhile, John is all over this page demanding that others provide evidence to back up their comments.

        Come on John, perform to the standards that you expect from others.

        • John Greenberg

          Peter:

          The Deerfield project is priced at 8.8 cents. GMP expects to sell RECs for 4 cents, for a cost to ratepayers of 4.8 cents. The contract price is fixed for 20years for 30MW of power.

          The 2012-2038 HQUS contract for Hydro Quebec power is for up to 225 MW. vtdigger.org/2011/01/15/hydro-quebec-contract-set-at-5-8-cents-a-kilowatt-for-2012/ It varies with market prices. As you can see from the URL, the original price was set at 5.8 cents. If you go to the ISO-NE website, you can figure the prices between then and now to determine what the contract has cost so far, but as my original comment suggested, it’s in the same range as the Deerfield contract.

          It’s important to note that the price of the HQ power is not fixed, so no one knows how much the contract will cost going forward. Another significant difference is that the Deerfield contract provides GMP with the option to buy the turbines after 10 years.

          I have posted all of this to VT Digger at least once before.

        • John Greenberg

          Peter:

          Sorry, your name got mangled in my previous comment.

          Two additional points are worth noting. It’s certainly true that there are solar and wind contracts for very high prices. What you fail to note is that most of them are TINY. In any case, I never said wind and solar are ALWAYS cheaper; clearly they aren’t.

          Additionally, the prices on the DPS website show that solar prices have dropped substantially and fast. Meanwhile, this trend has continued, and almost all observers believe it is likely to do so in the next few years. In many instances, solar and wind developers provide utilities with fixed price contracts for 20 or more years.

          The only certain way to compare fixed-price contracts to market-based contracts like the one with HQ is in hindsight: no one knows what future market prices will be. For this very reason, utilities like to hedge their bets by having BOTH kinds of contract in their portfolio.

  • David C.Austin

    A more apt headline would be: “Scott urged to support rape of Vermont landscape to facilitate financial chicanery” Renewable energy is good, dependence on fossil fuels is bad. There should not need to be much debate on that. But the disregard for local communities, and financial shell games played by developers and utilities? That’s the real issue here. Labeling those of us who have these concerns as “anti-renewable energy” does not help, or even make much sense. There are those that are content to march to whatever tune VPIRG et al happen to be playing. And then we have people who would drill and frack every square foot of the earth in an effort to spite them. Those of us who are capable of rational thought, and are interested in leading lives of moderation and conservation are unfortunately caught in the middle.

  • Amelia Schneider

    BAN CELL PHONES IN VERMONT. Cell phone towers are hundreds of feet tall, and built directly on our ridge lines. They’re ugly and you have to build roads to maintain them, their blinking lights terrify my children and I can see them right out my windows every single day. Cell phone towers have disturbed my sleep for over a decade. They’re also made out of metal, which must be bad for the hydrology of the mountain top. You all are right: private companies should NOT be profiting from our ridge lines!

    There are plenty of other ways to communicate with each other–I personally live quite close to these cellphone towers and so firmly believe that Vermont should put a moratorium on cellphones. That being said, power lines are also pretty ugly and each one of those telephone poles was once a living tree–so I think we should also ban other communication tools such as landlines as well.

    I am PERSONALLY affected by ridgeline development and so believe no cellphones will better our state.