Energy

Developer pushing ahead with big solar in Vermont

Ranger solarAdam Cohen has the go-ahead to build Vermont’s largest solar array, but he isn’t stopping there.

Cohen, the president of Maine-based Ranger Solar, said Thursday that he expects to now move forward with developing four more large-scale photovoltaic projects in Vermont.

The 20-megawatt arrays targeted for Brandon, Sheldon, Highgate and Randolph haven’t progressed nearly as quickly as the Coolidge Solar project that was recently approved by the state Public Service Board.

But Cohen said he believes the board’s Coolidge ruling has laid the groundwork for Ranger’s other projects. And he’s partnered with two other companies – one based in Florida, and the other in California – to help bring his Vermont plans to fruition.

“Obviously, the Coolidge order was a great result for community solar,” Cohen said. “It speaks to the fact that there are a lot of benefits for the state.”

Ranger’s Vermont plans first went public in 2015. But it took until last week for the Public Service Board to sign off on the state’s first 20 megawatt array.

Coolidge Solar will be built in Ludlow and Cavendish, and it will be four times larger than any array currently functioning in Vermont. State documents say it will consist of about 82,000 solar panels on 88.5 acres of land.

In issuing its approval, the Public Service Board detailed the developer’s attempts to avoid “undue adverse impacts on Vermont’s natural and built environment.” The board also cited “significant economic and environmental benefits” expected from the project.

Though the state has signed off on Coolidge, Cohen said it will take some time for the array to materialize. That’s due in part additional engineering work, but developers also have to finalize and allow interested parties to review a “system impact study” that will detail the project’s effect on electrical infrastructure.

NextEra Energy Resources, based in Juno Beach, Florida, will construct and then operate the Coolidge array.

“We’re looking at bringing the project online in the 2018-19 time frame,” NextEra spokesman Bryan Garner said Thursday. “Most likely 2018.”

NextEra, which bills itself as “one of the largest generators of solar energy in the country,” will be partnering with Ranger on the company’s other Vermont arrays. The same goes for MAP, a Palo Alto, Calif., company that’s working with Ranger as a co-developer.

Ranger’s initial plans included an array in Barton, but Cohen said the company is “not moving that forward currently.”

All of the others, however, are still active. Each of the proposed projects in Sheldon, Highgate and Randolph bears the name of its host town, while the Brandon project has been dubbed Davenport Solar.

“They’ll be 20 megawatts, and sited next to existing (electrical) infrastructure,” Cohen said. “And community-supported.”

Selectboards in Brandon and Sheldon already have supported Ranger’s plans. In a resolution approved about a year ago, Brandon officials noted that Ranger Solar had “communicated with town officials, boards and citizens in a transparent and proactive manner.”

Ranger Solar has filed preliminary notices for each project with the respective towns but has not yet filed formal applications with the Public Service Board. Cohen did not commit to a time frame for state applications.

“The hope is to move these along as soon as they’re ready,” he said.

At this point, the state Department of Public Service – which represents the public interest in energy matters – has not yet reached any conclusion on Ranger’s four additional arrays.

“Until Ranger reaches out to us or formally files something with the (Public Service Board), we wouldn’t typically be doing any review or weighing in,” said Ed McNamara, director of the department’s planning and energy resources division.

But those advocating for the projects think they can make a convincing case.

In terms of finding customers, the four remaining Ranger Solar arrays – like Coolidge – has an inside track with the state of Connecticut. All five projects were selected last year by Connecticut officials as they seek to boost their renewable-energy portfolio, meaning Ranger and its partners won’t have to seek power buyers.

The Public Service Board had no problem with that arrangement, at least in its Coolidge ruling.

The board said Vermont could benefit directly from the array after the 20-year Connecticut deal expires. In the meantime, officials said, Vermont could see benefits from such a large solar array because the state is a power buyer in the regional, wholesale power market.

Cohen echoed that point.

“Vermont is part of the regional grid,” he said. “Stably priced, long-term contracts benefit Vermont.”

Siting such large projects is another consideration. The Coolidge approval came after Ranger Solar worked with local officials and state agencies to mitigate the project’s environmental and aesthetic impacts.

“At a high level, certainly when projects are larger … you definitely need to be more thoughtful about siting and location,” Cohen said.

As for the other four arrays, Cohen and Garner said they will continue to work on final designs with the proposed host towns.

Cohen said he believes Vermonters “would prefer one centrally located project next to existing infrastructure” rather than many smaller solar installations.

The developers also make an economic argument for big solar.

“I think the economic impact is really worth noting,” Garner said. “We’re adding to the energy infrastructure of the state and the region, and with that comes good-paying jobs (and) a big increase in the local tax base.”

Coolidge is expected to bring about 80 jobs during construction and four full-time positions afterward, according to state documents. It’s also supposed to increase state and local tax income by nearly $4 million.

“I think the entire community benefits when you have this kind of economic activity,” Garner said.


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  • Luann Tenney Therrien

    How is this environmentally friendly?
    “State documents say it will consist of about 82,000 solar panels on 88.5 acres of land.”

    The power will be sold out of state. And will NOT support Vermont’s energy goals.
    “In terms of finding customers, the four remaining Ranger Solar arrays – like Coolidge – has an inside track with the state of Connecticut. All five projects were selected last year by Connecticut officials as they seek to boost their renewable-energy portfolio, meaning Ranger and its partners won’t have to seek power buyers.”

    In 20 years, the solar panels installed will be obsolete and degraded to the point of being unusable.
    “The board said Vermont could benefit directly from the array after the 20-year Connecticut deal expires.”

    • JohnGreenberg

      “n 20 years, the solar panels installed will be … degraded to the point of being unusable.” Please document this claim. Everything I’ve ever seen or read suggests that it is false.

      To be clear, the claim that 20 year old solar panels will be “obsolete” is likely to be correct if by that you mean that there will be newer, more efficient models on the market. But just as no one shuts a nuclear or fossil fuel plant merely because the technology is “obsolete,” (newer technologies are available everywhere, in fact), so too there is no reason to believe that the “obsolete” solar panels will not continue to be used and useful.

      • Robert Lehmert

        Mine have a 25 year full replacement guarantee. My cash flow is already positive. I would be very happy if civilization is still intact in 25 years, and if I’m still around when they stop working, I’ll get another set.

        • Steve Woodward

          Comparing residential solar panels to an industrial sized solar farm, is like comparing my backyard garden to a factory farm. I’m also willing to bet there won’t be as many financial incentives to replace your panels in 25 years as there are now. It’s nice to know that some of my tax money is going towards subsidizing your positive cash flow. If you’re not getting incentives from your particular solar provider, please explain how. I am quite sure that they are being subsidized through tax dollars to provide you incentives.

          • JohnGreenberg

            Steve Woodward:
            “Comparing residential solar panels to an industrial sized solar farm ….” When it comes longevity and whether the panels will still be used and useful, please explain why this comparison has any relevance.

          • bill_christian

            Steve, this is how I look at it. My neighbor gets cheap electricity generated by burning fracked gas. It this continues, we run out of gas and we permanently change our climate. I believe this is really really bad and it’s wrong for him to do it. I’m not saying he’s doing it so that my grandchildren will die. He’s doing it because it’s cheaper. It won’t change unless we either use carrots (rewarding people who use less gas and coal) or sticks (to discourage its use). I believe stick is way better, in the form of a tax on natural gas, coal, and oil. Carrots (RECs, tax breaks, etc) tend to be abused and do not focus in on what really needs to happen, which is not burning all that fossil fuel.

          • Ken Egnaczak

            Is that positive cash flow affected by the 30% Federal Income Tax Credit ? As just another example of gov’t energy bigotry, hydro was not included in the ITC………….

        • Neil Johnson

          25 year guarantee. That makes a huge assumption the company will actually be in business 25 years from now. The paper is probably worth more than the actual guarantee.

    • bill_christian

      It simply isn’t true that panels will be useless in 20 years. Virtually every panel installed 20 years ago is still working fine. Tests show them to range between 95% and 100% of original specs. This is very easily confirmed.

  • Ken Egnaczak

    Have we heard much from environmental groups like the VNRC about these large installations ? Most of these groups want solar, is this what they were thinking of ?

    • Neil Johnson

      You won’t hear a word, the silence is deafening. They can stop any other little grocery store from opening……but they won’t stop this! It is their plan for Vermont. Notice I say THEIR plan. They are lobbyists. They are not voted into power by the people. They are stronger than any elected official. They have millions of dollars behind them to get what they want.

      VNRC and VPIRG want Vermont to be the solar panel dumping ground for out of state energy. Lobbyists work for money.

      • Robert Lehmert

        LOL. Thanks!

      • bill_christian

        I am not a lobbyist. I am a person who wants my grandchildren and their grandchildren (and yours, too) to have a better life than you and I. And definitely not to die in a massive famine or war.

      • bill_christian

        VPIRG is funded by $3 and $50 donations from thousands of Vermonters who care strongly about the future. True grassroots. Anti-renewable movements are funded secretly (and most anti-solar folks don’t even know that). Koch Industries (largest private coal-oil-gas corporation in the U.S.) has spent hundreds of millions of dollars secretly to promote anti-renewable groups, with very effective and very dishonest messages about “the gov-mint ramming these harmful things down our throats”. But this “gov-mint” is the majority of Vermonters, who know that we have to stop burning fossil fuel and support solar and wind, Vermonters who know that these messages about the evils of solar and wind are kind of nuts, to put it politely.

        • Neil Johnson

          Perhaps a little more research is needed from who benefited financially and what is done from within. Lobbyist groups do not inherently have a white hat. What is the goal? When met will the organization cease to exist or shall their be a crisis created to keep the funding of the machine? This is an inherent problem with Lobbyist and government organizations.

          While I’m sure your statements are accurate and true, suggesting Vermonters are nuts, because we don’t want to be Connecticut’s solar field is not reasonable at all. Suggesting that Vermonters should have some say in the matter of siting is NOT unreasonable. Meanwhile if we want reasonable housing we can’t get it done because of the extensive permitting process that absolutely screws the little guy.

          But the connected rich can bless us with entire 100 acre lots of solar panels at their whim and no public input. Vermonters are environmentally conscious, they aren’t stupid.

        • Steve Woodward

          Bill Christian: VPIRG is funded by big foundations also. Please don’t pretend that we are fools and believe that they are just a “grassroots” organization. Big money is flowing into them, just like all lobbying organizations. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Really? I’m thinking more than 3 and 50 bucks. Patagonia, Merck Family Fund, Seventh Generation, and first on the list: the Blittersdorf Family Foundation. This a partial list. Here is the entire 2015 annual report. I can’t wait to see the 2016 report.
          http://www.vpirg.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/VPIRG-005-AnnualReport-Reference.pdf
          Read the list carefully, and you will see who the people are that stand to benefit the most from their efforts. Sure, there are those who donate with their conscience, but a lot of those big donors stand to get richer. So let’s call them what they are: LOBBYISTS!

      • Ken Egnaczak

        Well VNRC and VPIRG, what do you have to say ?????? Speak up !!

  • Dale Newton

    Wrong, Mr. Cohen. Small, distributed solar production is just fine with this VTer. One of the best investments ($ and environment) I ever made was to install our 24-panel Tracker five years back.Each summer I plant a circle of sunflowers around it just to celebrate…just because I can…just to make it blend in a bit with the other gardens. My wish is that we might discuss how to include renewable distributed power in ALL new residential and commercial construction. Kind of fits our “brave LITTLE state.” And 100% of your first project is being sold outside of Vermont? VPR totally missed that part of the story last week, at least in the piece that I listened too.

    • bill_christian

      I thank you for doing your part. But I’ll repeat, I don’t care who “gets the credit” for installing renewable power. If Connecticut pays us for our renewable energy, it is still renewable and they don’t have to burn coal or fracked gas to make it. We sell milk to Connecticut, and buy stuff from them in return. Colt guns come to mind. We have more low cost land than Connecticut does, and we can use it for dairy, forestry, solar, wind. Places that become overly dependent on tourism often turn out badly. Gotta provide some other valuable stuff too.

  • Don Arnold

    Why isn’t Vt as proactive as Ct by lining up generation for renewable targets? We’re becoming a plantation for other states, where will we put our own solar when all the low hanging fruit is taken? When push comes to shove, after all the posing and “we’re leading the way”, the date will come and we’ll write another check to Hydro-Quebec. Or will we ask other states to build on ridgelines and fill tillable fields with solar for Vt’s power customers? Kinda blows our whole image.

    • Matthew Davis

      Vermont is part of a regional grid and presently, according to the NREL, is lagging behind MA and CT, but is ahead of other NE states in terms of installed solar capacity. https://openpv.nrel.gov/rankings

      I agree that we should be doing more here in VT and these projects are a step in the right direction.

    • Willem Post

      Don,

      About 65% of the hours of the year solar is near zero, or zero.

      Hydro power from HQ is delivered at a steady level 24/7/365, year after year.

      New York State and GMP, etc., have been buying it under long term contracts for decades.

      • Matthew Davis

        So then you will be strongly advocating for this and the TDI? How will you and the other anti-changers make sure VT utilities tap into these extension cords from HQ? https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/29/kingdom-route-eyed-for-power-line-to-massachusetts/

      • Ken Egnaczak

        Willem
        Solar performance in New England can be expressed in another way. Solar has a Capacity Factor of around 0.13 which means that averaged over a year, solar’s output is equivalent to producing at capacity for only 3 hours a day. If that isn’t bad enough, solar overproduces in the summer driving the need for storage and has anemic output during the winter driving the need for some other kind of generation. Solar certainly has its place as a renewable energy generator but we should be developing our best, high capacity factor sources first. Given our experience with Hydro Quebec as you described, we should develop Vermont’s in-state hydro resources first .

        • Jason Brisson

          “we should develop Vermont’s in-state hydro resources first.”
          Given that VT didn’t get in on the CT river dams, what are you proposing–where are these in-state hydro resources to be developed?

          • Ken Egnaczak

            See what Bill Scully from North Bennington is doing. I know of many dams that are not being used, put them back to work. Of course you can do the even smarter thing and build more dams, 21st century design dams.

          • Jason Brisson

            I don’t disagree, but the dam location is important. Swanton dam is disused and needs to go, Peterson dam is used, but also needs to go. 1st dams on tributary rivers should never have been put in, had we known then what the future effects on future fish stocks/populations would be. Its the higher elevation dams that I would favor, like having more Green River Reservoirs around the state. But those also don’t produce the wattage of the bigger dams…

          • Steve Woodward

            I completely agree with you. But the state is trying to shut down the Green River dam. https://vtdigger.org/2016/05/18/state-morrisville-utility-wrangle-over-green-river-reservoir/

          • Jason Brisson

            Right?! Gotta love VT… We’re going to come down on you about draw down on a man made lake, and make you generate electricity in a way which makes it uneconomical, so then you close the dam, and we lose one of the states most beautiful gems of a state park.

          • Ken Egnaczak

            Wait ! wait ! wait ! You got to tear the dam down ! The hydro was the only reason to keep lakes like at Green River ! Look at Kathy Leonard’s comment above about being too smart by half. These terrible man-made water impoundments generate GHG’s while they address human needs !

            Sure, lets let other wetlands belch GHG’s all they want but the ones that address human needs got to go away……..

          • Jason Brisson

            Yes, dams produce methane from flooded land. So do beaver dams and so does fossil fuel production, transportation, and use. Also landfills, biomass burning, rice production, biofuels, and livestock production. Would it not be better to accept higher altitude hydropower generation, and focus GHG abatement efforts on any of the other man made sources of methane?

          • Matthew Davis

            Don’t forget that people produce methane as well…What do you mean by “higher altitude hydro generation”?

          • Jason Brisson

            There’s a lot of human activities that cause methane. I don’t understand targeting the one that gives you clean energy, with so many others to choose from.
            Higher altitude dams are those that aren’t in the bottoms/drainage of the watersheds. Green River Dam is the best example in the state–a clearly defined higher elevation valley/watershed that drained thru a narrow. More and smaller hydro projects around the state, higher up in the mountains, would end our reliance on the bigger first dams on tributary rivers.

          • Matthew Davis

            “There’s a lot of human activities that cause methane. I don’t
            understand targeting the one that gives you clean energy, with so many
            others to choose from.” I totally agree…I was being facetious. I am continually baffled by the extreme perspectives some take here. It seems like any option is shot down without any alternative proposed.

            “Higher altitude dams are those that aren’t in the bottoms/drainage of
            the watersheds. ” Ok, got it. GRD produces about 1 million kwh/year, so not very much power. I suspect a project like that would never get built today as the $$$ probably wouldn’t add up and the regulatory challenges would be substantial and who is going to want their backyard flooded? I could be wrong however.

            I have always thought this was an interesting project. Only 2.2 MW so lots of infrastructure for not much power. http://lowimpacthydro.org/silver-lake-project-vermont-lihi-certificate-91/

          • Matthew Davis

            The state is not trying to shut down the dam. They are asking the utility to not drain the reservoir in the winter….

          • Steve Woodward

            This state doesn’t “ask” to do anything. They mandate it. Maybe from the state you come from, they ask nicely. If the utility isn’t allowed to draw down in the winter (make power), they said it probably won’t be fiscally feasible to keep operating. That is essentially shutting it down.

          • Matthew Davis

            If the state wanted to shut it down…they would do that. That is not what is happening and you know it.

          • Steve Woodward

            Mandating the amount of water allowed to be drawn down is a way of forcing the utility to abandon the dam. Shutting down a generating project is a long and difficult undertaking. For the state to just shut it down would be a major PR nightmare. But to choke it slowly would accomplish the same thing, and YOU KNOW IT!

          • Matthew Davis

            Once again…total conjecture on your part. If you have some information that proves that the state’s goal is purely to shut the dam down, by all means share it.

          • Ken Egnaczak

            Instead of tearing dams down consider adding fish passage, we need renewable energy generator assets

          • Jason Brisson

            Fish passage works with trout/salmon, but what about different species at the lowest elevations of the river like walleye, muskellunge, and sturgeon? 1st dams on rivers cut fish off from critical spawning habitat.

          • Ken Egnaczak

            There is this:

            https: //www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/frankenmuth_factsheet_-_jan_2015_2.pdf

            and many other on-web resources describing the many designs of fish passage. There are also fish lifts, Archimedes lift screws, and 21st century dams that open up during migrations. This has all been figured out but the absolutist anti-dam guys will never tell you about it…….educate yourself.

          • Matthew Davis

            There is a great example of a fish lift at Winooski One in downtown WInooski. It is very cool to see it operated during the spawn runs.

          • Jason Brisson

            Sorry, agree to disagree. None of these technologies are perfect.
            Why should fish evolution be determined by which ones adapt best to human hydropower? Allow unfettered access to critically important spawning areas, and let fish populations naturally manage themselves.

        • JohnGreenberg

          Ken Egnaczak:

          “solar overproduces in the summer….” Yes, it does. In New England, demand peaks on sunny summer days. Seasonal demand is highest in the summer; daily demand is highest during daylight hours.

          “…driving the need for storage” In light of what I just noted, please document this claim. To the best of my knowledge, it is largely false.

          I say “largely” because there will ALWAYS be times when supply is greater than demand, but solar production is actually well-suited to bringing down peak power costs.

        • bill_christian

          I agree 100% but there isn’t enough hydro in the state to make a really big difference. Plane fact. But we should use all we have. And capacity factor is not important, in itself. The fuel is free. All that matters is cost per kWh, and that’s getting very reasonable. Early-to-mid-winter lack of sun is a challenge, and that’s why wind is such a good partner – this is a high period for it.

          • Matthew Davis

            There are some pretty sizeable valleys in VT that could be dammed and flooded to provide significant hydropower. Something tells me that would not go over well however…

          • bill_christian

            It’s not valley size. It’s gallons per minute and drop in feet. There are no huge rivers flowing out of tall mountain ranges like out West. Bigger dam won’t change that fact. Hoover dam catchment area is 10 times the area of VT, and its spillway can handle more than 3 million gallons per second. And the water drops 1000 feet. In Vermont, a big hydro facility drops 50 feet, generating only 5% as much per gallon as Hoover and with WAY less gallons. Again, we should do all we can with hydro here but it will be only a modest part of our needs.

          • Matthew Davis

            Bill – I totally get your point and agree. Most hydro in VT is run of the river, and unless we get comfortable with doing some major flooding of large, steep valleys, we will not be able to expand our own hydro capacity by much. This has been studied. Many micro-hydro options but the state is going to have to get behind it. A local group here in Addison County fought for years to get a micro turbine set up at the falls in Middlebury (where there is already a dam).

            However, just up the hill from me we could build multiple massive dams from Bartlett’s falls up into Lincoln and likely get 50 mw easily. What do you say? Flood Lincoln!!!

      • bill_christian

        HQ power would go a lot farther with more solar and wind. Bump up HQ output capacity (above its 24/7/365 average) and then average it out with renewables. Win-win.

      • Kathy Leonard

        It seems we are too smart by half. We are learning that reservoirs and dams produce a significant volume of greenhouse gases: “The new paper, slated to be published next week in BioScience, confirms a
        significant volume of greenhouse gas emissions coming from a
        little-considered place: Man-made reservoirs, held behind some 1 million dams around the world and created for the purposes of electricity generation, irrigation, and other human needs.”

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/09/28/scientists-just-found-yet-another-way-that-humans-are-creating-greenhouse-gases/?utm_term=.270bfdf6cc35

    • bill_christian

      If we Vermonters build renewable energy, we are helping to save the earth for our grandchildren. Don’t worry about “who gets the credit”. Because it doesn’t matter. At all.

  • bill_christian

    It makes no difference that this solar energy is “sold out of state”. We sell milk “out of state”. We sell maple syrump “out of state”. Please note that we buy a huge proportion of things FROM out of state, most of what we use, including light bulbs, pickup trucks, most of our food, all our gasoline, and most of our electricity. Wouldn’t it be nice to sell a little more TO out of state, you know, to pay the bills and stuff?

    • Matthew Davis

      While I get your point, VT is not an exporter of electricity. We import over 50% of our electricity and while on paper it may appear that the power from this project is being purchased by a CT utility, the power will go to the nearest load, which will be in VT. From the article: “Vermont could see benefits from such a large solar array because the state is a power buyer in the regional, wholesale power market.”

      • Steve Woodward

        Matt: You are correct in your assertion that they are only buying the power on paper, and that the actual power produced goes on the grid. But with the current structure of REC’s, once Connecticut pays for these credits, Vermont can no longer claim them as their own. Former Attorney General Bill Sorrell last year warned against trying to claim credits that have already been sold. https://vtdigger.org/2015/12/20/vermont-attorney-general-warns-solar-companies-to-stop-false-marketing/
        I don’t know of any plan to retire these credits in the near future. It essential to retire the REC’s if S 51 goes into law, so that once all these projects are online, we can finally claim them as our own. If we are going to keep putting up these projects and continue to sell the power on paper to other states, we will need to blanket every square inch of the state to achieve these goals.

        • JohnGreenberg

          Steve Woodward:

          Your last paragraph is based on the assumption that, because you “don’t know of any plan to retire these credits,” they wouldn’t be retired if needed to meet state requirements.

          The opposite assumption is virtually obvious: if there is an incentive to retire the RECs (e.g. meeting a state mandate which would not otherwise be met), they will be retired. Until then, VT rates can be reduced by selling them out-of-state. Indeed, it’s for precisely that reason they’re being sold now: CT has unmet mandates; VT utilities are meeting our mandates without these RECs.

          • Steve Woodward

            John: I have to disagree with you. They WILL NOT EVER retire the REC’s as long as every project that comes in front of the board is approved. Answer me honestly, what in your mind is a bad project? I just want to get a sense if there is a limitation, or is every idea a good one?

          • JohnGreenberg

            “They WILL NOT EVER retire the REC’s as long as every project that comes in front of the board is
            approved.”

            I don’t get your point.

            The only value of RECs is to meet mandates for renewable power. Utilities have met either relevant
            VT mandates or not. If they have not, they will retire them to meet their own obligations. If they have, then selling the RECs to others who haven’t makes sense.

            The PSB does not approve every project. Many projects do not meet renewable power mandates
            anyway. So even if the Board approved every project, it would matter ONLY IF the projects approved allowed the utilities to meet their obligations.

            As to limits, the reasons for rejecting projects
            should be rationally based on the alternatives available. If there are environmentally better ways to meet our needs, projects should at least undergo greater scrutiny. No project is perfect. The only reasonable question is whether a project is better than its alternatives. Opponents generally fail to ask or answer that question.

          • Paul Drayman

            REC’s are a source of revenue for the RE provider. That’s why they sell them instead of counting the RE they produce for Vermont goals. If REC’s weren’t part of the deal, I would guess that most of the RE projects would not be built. The RE company gets to sell them, the contracted buyer gets to claim them and Vermont communities get sc?????, well, they probably will throw us a few bones.

          • JohnGreenberg

            Paul Drayman:

            If a Vermont utility sells RECs, it uses the proceeds to reduce the cost of power purchases. Utilities don’t make anything on power costs: they are passed on to ratepayers; lower costs mean lower rates. Utility profits come from a return owned on
            their (allowable) assets.

            In the scenario here, the developer is not a utility, so the sale of RECs has NO impact on Vermont
            communities (other than facilitating the project in the first place). The project’s benefits to the community come from millions of dollars in taxes, jobs, purchase of land and materials, etc., which is no different from any non-utility project. When a non-utility project gets built, would you say that the community gets screwed because there are no RECs?

        • bill_christian

          We will not have to blanket every inch of the state. I’ve heard that one before. Not even remotely close. If we did “every square inch”, which would be crazy and not cost effective and we would all have to move… then we’d be able to power much of the whole United States. Won’t happen, does not need to happen.

      • Willem Post

        Matthew,

        The power likely will only partially go to the nearest loads, because as energy travels at near the speed of light, it would travel about 180 miles in 0.001 of a second and likely be far beyond the borders of Vermont.

        Turning Vermont into an energy plantation, mostly owned by out of state multi millionaires looking for tax shelters, is grossly unfair to Vermonters, and very poor energy policy.

        All solar should be local and owned by local people, to enhance local independence and local control.

        The state should continue to provide subsidies for such solar, and not a penny more to out of staters.

        • JohnGreenberg

          “Turning Vermont into an energy plantation, mostly owned by out of state
          multi millionaires looking for tax shelters, is grossly unfair to
          Vermonters, and very poor energy policy.”

          Why is this any different from turning TX, LA, AK, SD, etc. into oil and gas plantations, “mostly owned by out of state
          multi millionaires” for Vermonters (and others)? Ditto coal? Ditto nuclear?

          Are coffee plantations poor policies for coffee exporters? Do you drink Vermont-grown orange juice?

          Policies need to be based on the real world, where interstate (and, gasp, even international) trade is a reality.

        • bill_christian

          I also prefer local control. Locally owned businesses, worker-owned businesses. But we need to stop burning fuel immediately. We may not be able to move to local control. I know I can’t make a smart phone in Vermont… it is a global world now, like it or not.

        • Matthew Davis

          Are the companies hoping to build transmission networks from our neighbors “local”? Is HQ a local company?

          • bill_christian

            We also get power from the Granite Ridge plant in S. NH, which burns 125 million cubic feet of fracked gas every day. The plant ain’t local, the gas ain’t local.

        • bill_christian

          I love locally owned and will choose it when I can. But I can’t buy a locally produced car, smartphone, banana, or gallon of gas. If we buy from out out of state, we should sell to out of state as well. That keeps our economy healthy, balanced. We don’t want to become a “third world” state making a meager living serving tourists. Tourists are great. But don’t be completely dependent on them. Make something, sell something. Export valuable electricity from your property if you can. Clean, safe, and simple.

    • Steve Woodward

      Bill: My concern is that if S 51 (the bill that requires 90% renewables by 2050) goes into law, how are we ever going to get to 90% by selling all that juice out of state.

      • JohnGreenberg

        Steve Woodward:

        You’ve answered your own question. The bill “requires 90% renewables by 2050.” This is a 20-year contract. After 2037-8 (assuming the project is built reasonably quickly), the power will be available to meet Vermont’s goals. And with virtually no associated costs (the vast majority of which are being incurred now), the power should also be quite cheap.

        • Steve Woodward

          John: I would like to think that is what would happen. But that is a perfect scenario, in a perfect world. There are many factors that come into play if these are REC’s are not retired soon. What if the contracts are renewed, or extended. Most likely these solar panels will become obsolete, due to newer technology that is more efficient. Also, these contracts are far too lucrative for the investors to allow US! access to cheap power. Lobbyists rule the roost, and as long as there is money involved, the sharks will continue to swim.

        • Steve Woodward

          John: Have you read the contract? I haven’t. I have no idea what is in it. Who knows if there is language inserted in there that doesn’t allow extensions or renewals automatically. You and I both know that these contracts weren’t written with the citizenship of Vermont in mind. It’s always been about money, and will always be about money. I would rather not wait to the very end and have it be law, only to find out that what we assumed all along was going towards our goal really can’t be used. Then what? The track record in this state is to wait to the last minute for everything, and it’s getting tiresome. I have a hard time trusting anything coming out of Montpelier anymore. Regardless of party affiliation.

        • Kathy Leonard

          John Greenburg, the efficiency of solar panels diminishes over time; the supplier told us the life expectancy of our panels is 20-25 years. So, taking back the RECs from a solar plant after 20 years looks good to you? It looks to me like this plan is for schmucks.

          • JohnGreenberg

            According to NREL: “Nearly 2000 degradation rates … have been assembled from the literature, showing a median value of 0.5%/year.” (“Photovoltaic Degradation Rates — An Analytical Review:” http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51664.pdf.
            So if the Ranger panels perform to the median,
            they will retain 90% of their efficiency 20 years from now.

            RECs have no intrinsic value; without state (or other) mandates, they would have no economic value at all. In this case, the mandates being met are in CT and that will presumably remain the case for the duration of the 20-year contract.

            20 years from now, if VT utilities want to buy the environmental attributes to meet VT mandates, they can do so. If they still don’t need them, they could either buy and then resell the RECs, or simply buy the power (if needed) without them, leaving the developer free to sell them elsewhere.

            As noted above, virtually all of solar’s expenses are up front. Presumably, the 20-year contract (including the sale of RECS) provides enough
            revenue to cover them and make a profit.

            20 years from now, 90% of the power from this project will be available (to someone) with a cost of very close to zero.

            So yes, that sounds like the basis of a superb deal for Vermont ratepayers.

          • bill_christian

            I hear this all the time. Virtually every solar electric panel ever made is still in use and running fine after 20 to 30 years. They guarantee them for that. There are no moving wearing parts.

        • Paul Drayman

          So, in 20 years CT won’t want our power any more?

          • JohnGreenberg

            “So, in 20 years CT won’t want our power any
            more?”

            Did I say that?

            I have no idea who will want our power. Neither do you. My point was that in 20 years, the contract will have expired, leaving the developer free to use market forces (i.e. best economic return) to determine buyers, prices, and whether or not RECs are included.

            No one knows whether there will be any renewables mandates in 20 years, whether they will be in force in VT, CT, or both, and just as
            importantly, whether or not if they exist, they’ve already been met with other projects. There are a lot of variables here.

            With all that uncertainty, two points seem pretty
            clear. First, the age of the solar panels will be, at most, a small factor. Second, what happens to RECs will be determined by the rules in place at
            the time, not by any assumptions we make now.

          • Paul Drayman

            I have to say that that I agree with much of what you said in this reply. Twenty years is a short time I feel. There is a lot of uncertainty. That just convinces me even more that the way the State and the RE developers are going forward with this will not work. There is no guiding plan and it is unpredictable.

      • Paul Drayman

        By building solar fields on every piece of available land and wind towers on every hilltop…Oh, wait a minute, we can’t count all that twice…Darn !!

    • Robert Lehmert

      Anybody want to tell Rock of Ages that they can only sell their rocks inside Vermont? Laughable.

      • bill_christian

        Why should we send rocks out of state? Mine them here, use them here. Same with maple syrup. Why should we sell maple syrup to folks from Connecticut? (Sarcasm. Sorry.)

  • John Freitag

    Unfortunately, what we have here is precisely the same large scale, profit driven projects that , as with industrial wind, have given renewable energy a bad name. Even though Vermont has an incredibly ambitious goal of getting to 90% renewable energy, the renewable energy credits from these project do not go to meeting this goal, and these projects simply serve to make Vermont a dumping ground for those states who do not want to see the blight of hundreds of acres of solar panels on their landscape or bear the cost in their own locales.
    Yes, we need to be responsible for meeting our own renewable needs, but we should do it in a way that is most beneficial to Vermont. This means carefully sited projects with minimal impact on the natural beauty of our state that is so important to us all. It also means instead of massive projects which bring in workers , looking to use our own Vermont based solar companies that provide more sustainable jobs for own State.
    If we get this wrong , not only do we lose much of what makes Vermont special, but pushing these large scale projects causes, as with industrial wind, causes divisions in our communities and a voter backlash for those who have promoted or allowed this to happen.

    • JohnGreenberg

      “what we have here is precisely the same large scale, profit
      driven projects that, as with industrial wind, have given renewable energy a bad name.”

      But for some completely unfathomable reason, the same considerations don’t stain the good name of all of the available options besides renewables?

      Nuclear and fossil fuel plants are “large scale” and “profit-driven.” The power from Quebec is not just large scale; it’s huge
      scale. Why no complaints about the power we’re using right now??

      Here’s a simple challenge. If there is a small-scale, non-profit-driven alternative to supply Vermont’s energy needs, please present it. Please remember that residential use represents only about 1/3 of Vermont’s electricity demand, so your proposal needs to include solutions for the other 2/3 of the power as well.

      In the absence of such proposals, comments like this are, at the very best, based on a double standard.

      • Steve Woodward

        Why haven’t other companies besides renewables not been stained for their behavior towards the environment? What about the Exxon Valdez, the BP oil spill, Chernobyl, 3 mile Island, the nuclear reactor in Japan, or the coal ash spill down south that polluted a
        river. Those are just a few that I could name off the top of my head without looking more up. Those are stains on an industry as far as I’m concerned. I’m not a cheerleader for these industries, I am just simply pointing out that all energy producers have an irresponsible side to them. renewables included. Until we recognize that fact, and keep a close eye on them, they’re going to continue to play on peoples heartstrings and take advantage of them because they feel that they are doing the right thing for the planet. It’s time for everyone to wake up and realize there is corruption in any for-profit industry. Renewable energy is perfect for these schemes, because it gets people to believe that no matter what they’re doing, it is good business and great for the environment at the same time.

        • JohnGreenberg

          Steve Woodward:

          You completely missed my point.

          The bad name John Freitag was complaining about came SOLELY from the fact that this is a “large-scale” project and that it is “profit-driven.” Neither of these attributes equates in any way to “behavior towards the environment.”

          Where are “the Exxon Valdez, the BP oil spill, Chernobyl, 3 mile Island, the nuclear reactor in Japan, or the coal ash spill down south that polluted a river” for solar or wind projects? There aren’t any.

          That’s a pretty key difference.

      • John Freitag

        Thanks for the comment John. Here in Strafford we are in the midst of construction of one of the largest to date solar projects in our State. It is causing significant disruption to our small town but as a Selectboard member I voted in favor of it since this 5megwatt facility is on top of a remediated copper mine tailing pile as is one of the most appropriate places for this time of large commercial facility. The Strafford Selectboard also as part of our approval negotiated with GMP to have the REC’s fully retired for Vermont needs within a 10 year period.
        There are appropriate places for large solar. We need to use them and use them for our own renewable energy needs.
        If there is a double standard, it is that most of our power in Vermont now comes from nuclear ( Seabrook) and fossil fuel stations and most of the large scale renewable energy projects like the wind farm in Lowell have their energy credits contracted to other states. Sad and a bit hypocritical for our supposedly “green” mountain State. We can and must do better.

        • Kathy Leonard

          Solar done right; bravo.

    • Tim Vincent

      “Vermont based solar companies that provide more sustainable jobs for own State.”
      Just what are these sustainable jobs?
      Mowing grass around the solar panels?

  • Felicia Scott

    This is a very bad thing for Vermont. If CT wants to ruin its productive fields with metal and glass rubbish so be it. Vermont should not be the dumping ground for the unscrupulous from other states. And no, Mr. Christian, solar junk is not milk or maple syrup, which are good and useful things. Vast solar arrays are just junk that do nothing for Vermont.

    • Matthew Davis

      Well they do produce electricity, which is necessary for you to be able to post your comments to VTDigger…

      • JohnGreenberg

        Matthew Davis

        And the choir sang Amen!

    • bill_christian

      No difference between a diary farm, solar field, wind farm, and sugar shack. They make things that people need or want. People in Connecticut, people in Vermont. What is the difference? Nothing at all. A solar array is no more “junk” than pavement, roofing, diary barns, schools. Stuff we want or need. A solar panel will last far longer than your car. Does that mean your car is “junk” that shouldn’t be allowed?

  • Jerry Ward

    I think a point brought up by posters here is worth expanding upon. Steve Woodward put it well: “My concern is that if S 51 (the bill that requires 90% renewables by 2050) goes into law, how are we ever going to get to 90% by selling all that juice out of state.”
    When it comes down to building viable industrial scale solar projects, it seems that there are relatively few good sites in Vermont. Criteria chosen by solar developers seem to include: availability of large (100 acre) tracts; proximity to roads; proximity to the power grid and associated infrastructure; and, ideally, such tracts should avoid wildlife corridors, prime ag soils, and view sheds enjoyed from residences and roads. Combine all of those criteria, and I think the case can be made that the best sites have already been cherry picked by existing projects and Ranger Solar.
    So, if we allow projects like these to buy the RECs and electricity from Vermont, where will that leave Vermont when we finally get our act together to enable the scale of solar power development that we will need to meet our own energy goals? I fear that future projects that try to actually benefit Vermont will be increasingly pushed to less desirable, more expensive, and less popular sites. Not my idea of smart growth.

  • Kathy Leonard

    I don’t believe anyone is considering the collective damage to or the loss of Vermont ridgeline, forest or farmland habitats, hydrology, connectivity – or the alteration of our neighborhorhoods and our townscapes – resulting from renewable energy projects built or in the pipeline, let alone those yet to be proposed.

    Is there a limit to the amount of these environmental amenities/attributes we are willing to lose? How do we determine that? And lacking that determination, how could we know when (or if) we have tipped the scale against the better interests of the land that we all depend on. I have seen no projections of how worsening climatic conditions might alter our land use imperatives. Have they been done? Will slowing floods and securing food closer to home, avoiding transportation energy become more important? Will we be traveling less? Man is but one of the myriad species that depend on these lands; have climate migrants already coming to Vermont been considered in projecting what needs protection?

    Aldo Leopold suggested that we must keep all the parts.

    We seem to be spending these precious parts as fast as the bureaucracy can process them, with insufficient regard to our needs as conditions worsen. Neither fear nor profit motives are likely to result in the best course of action. A hundred years fom now, will we have chosen a path that maintained our natural integrity? What will Vermont look like? I’ve asked a lot of questions, and have as yet heard no answers that convince me that these very large projects are advisable.

    • Matthew Davis

      Given that you seem to think that any change here in VT is unacceptable due to the “collective damage to or the loss of Vermont ridgeline, forest or
      farmland habitats, hydrology, connectivity – or the alteration of our
      neighborhorhoods and our townscapes – resulting from renewable energy
      projects”, I assume you will be strongly advocating for this and other proposed transmission projects. This way our neighbors can deal with the change, and we can enjoy our precious Vermont, preserved forever as it currently is. https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/29/kingdom-route-eyed-for-power-line-to-massachusetts/

      • Kathy Leonard

        Can you point me to any collective study being done?
        Is planning and are projections important?

        • Matthew Davis

          How many studies do you need to understand that VT imports over 50% of its electricity and the NE grid upon which we are reliant is going to lose significant generating capacity in the near future. Of course planning is important…that is why we need to either build more transmission to bring more power to VT and the NE grid, build more generating capacity here and in New England, or get used to having considerably less access to electricity.

          • Kathy Leonard

            I think the latter is the better choice, Matthew. Sooner or later we’ll need to rein in our consumption.

            And without understanding the cumulative effects of what we are doing, we may regret choices made today. You don’t have to agree with me.

          • JohnGreenberg

            Kathy Leonard:

            “Sooner or later we’ll need to rein in our consumption.”

            How do you recommend we do that? How much reduction do we need? Should business and industrial consumption be reduced (beyond what efficiency measures would bring)? Or only households?

            The figures on Vermont’s energy consumption are readily available (e.g. in the 20-year energy plan). Only a small portion of our use is electricity consumed by households. The rest is either business and industrial electric consumption or heating & transportation by all 3 sectors. The studies I’ve seen suggest that energy efficiency could cut demand by 20%.

            Let’s be exceedingly optimistic and call it 50%. Even then, we would be left with HUGE imports
            of non-renewable energy, especially if we follow your advice in these comment columns.

            So please give us some idea of the magnitude of the reductions you’re asking for, where and how you expect to see them, and where the remaining energy should come from.

          • Kathy Leonard

            I’ll not respond to your questions other than to say that the time will come when we will have drastically reduced power at our disposal, and it’d be wise for us to know how to live without it.

          • JohnGreenberg

            It would be far wiser to insure that such a day doesn’t come by planning NOW for energy efficiency (using energy better), energy conservation (using less by modifying lifestyle demands), and renewable sources for all of our remaining energy needs. Please note that, like you, I give highest priority to energy efficiency and conservation.

            But anyone giving even cursory consideration to the numbers would see that energy efficiency and conservation alone will not be anywhere near adequate, unless you see no problem in trying to return to a 19th Century (or earlier) lifestyle with a 21st Century population.

            Knee-jerk rejection of large-scale renewable projects on the specious basis that they’re not needed is poor policy and, in my view, quite unwise.

          • bill_christian

            I agree with you. But I’d rather move into that mode smoothly and intelligently rather than as a catastrophe with suffering and death. If we simply live as we are, and wait until there isn’t enough to survive, We and the climate will suffer needlessly. We should be smart enough to look ahead and do the right things.

          • Matthew Davis

            John – One word for what Kathy and the other deep ecologists are hoping for….loincloth.

          • Matthew Davis

            I actually do agree that conservation is and will continue to be key.

          • Paul Richards

            “,,,build more generating capacity here …” Like the Coolidge solar project that will send all the power to Connecticut and leave us with the blight? What good is that generating capacity to us?

          • Matthew Davis

            The power won’t go to CT. We import electricity and lots of it…the power will stay here.

          • Paul Richards

            “The power won’t go to CT.” That’s not what the article said. Was this misreported?

          • Matthew Davis

            No, not misreported. The power is sold on paper, but the energy will not go to CT. It will go to the nearest loads and seeing as we import over 50% of our power, it will likely stay in VT.

          • Willem Post

            Matthew,
            Stay in Vermont?
            It will spread at near the speed of light, about 180 miles in 0.001 second, as it is being consumed by users. The bigger the energy input, the further it travels.

          • Matthew Davis

            You get my point Willem….it is not going to CT.

          • JohnGreenberg

            And as it spreads, Willem, what happens when it encounters an unmet electrical load?

          • Paul Drayman

            Where is there an “unmet electrical load”? I think that if that Coolidge Solar field was the only source of electricity in the area, you might be right. However, the grid goes all over the place and as far as I am aware, it’s energized all the time. Don’t touch those wires, you’ll get a nasty surprise, and I wouldn’t bet on the source of the electrons that bit you.
            BTW, why not build that solar field in CT? CT must be nuts to pass up all those benefits that Vermont will be getting !!!

          • JohnGreenberg

            “why not build that solar field in CT?” Bill Christian provided one good answer: land is a good deal more expensive. I suspect labor costs are higher as well. Does their tax and regulatory scheme provide the same benefits as VT? Maybe not. I don’t know, but unlike you, I wouldn’t assume that it’s a bad choice either for the developer or for the community.

            People build projects in a given location for all kinds of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with economics or even rationality. Tom Watson
            is said to have built the IBM facility in VT because he liked to ski here.

            VT isn’t building the project or making the decisions; Ranger Solar is. Perhaps you should ask Adam Cohen why he chose Vermont.

            It’s remarkable that there are a whole lot of comments here which either ignore or actually oppose the benefits of trade. Yet every one of them is being processed by computers, not one of which, on a guess, was actually built in Vermont.

          • Matthew Davis

            CT is building solar and considerably more than here in VT. That is why Ranger wants to build these projects….

            https://openpv.nrel.gov/rankings

          • Paul Drayman

            Just about everything you mentioned in your reply is a convincing argument not to allow those developments here.
            From the get-go utilities have been strictly regulated for many good reasons, not the least of which is the effect on public and private lands and communities. These factors go far beyond the impact of most other endeavors. Suddenly power generation is being compared to egg and maple syrup production and cows grazing in a pasture, all of which, however, create much economic benefit for Vermont.
            Wind towers and solar fields are much more intrusive to the surrounding areas than even conventional power generation. Except hydro, which locations are self limiting and usually produce tremendous and steady power, we’re talking apples and oranges regarding scale.
            Your example of IBM? It is ridiculous to believe the legend that an IBM facility was established here simply because Tom Watson skis. Regardless of that, the arrangement with Vermont created thousands of good paying jobs in state, as well as an extensive economic boon to local and surrounding communities near the facility and huge tax revenue. Existing and proposed RE development cannot in its wildest imagination create a blip on the radar in comparison. I’m also not of the opinion, as you and some others like to characterize the opposition, that we don’t want an RE future. We just don’t want to turn our destiny over to the industry.
            I could go on, but will skip to your words which I will paraphrase ” VT isn’t making the decisions; …Ranger Solar is.” I’m sure most readers can connect the (…) dots.

    • bill_christian

      We can live as we do in Vermont, for a while, because they are fracking and strip mining in other places. Eventually Vermont’s climate will change to be like South Carolina, no maples, very different. And no fossil fuel left to burn. No cars, no heating oil or propane, no electricity, not the food you’ve learned to love. Or, we could do our share, by installing some clean safe renewable energy, and then live as we do forever.

      • Kathy Leonard

        There are several optimistic folks posting here who suggest that technology can absolve us of our environmental sins and that once enough of said technology is installed we can (at least according to Bill Christian above) “live as we do forever.”

        I see no easy glidepath in our future, however, and don’t believe that there is or can be ‘enough’ to satisfy industrial civilization’s growth and its/our demands. Bill is certainly entitled to his optimism and John Greenburg is entitled to his posts requiring depositions, and Matthew is entitled to his views (but I wish he’d stop labelling those he disagrees with).

        “Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours.” [UN Environment Programme]

        These species did not require fossil fuels or renewable energy to exist on earth yet we have consigned them to this fate with our insatiable growth and with our magnificent technology — neither of which is likely to change or slow down. While politically incorrect to say here, I would eagerly reduce my living standard further (perhaps I’d wear a woman’s equivalent of Matthew’s loincloth) to alter that fact. I live simply and consume lightly, but I don’t expect any of us will have that privilege forever, regardless of the choices that are made.

        Ideally, everyone should be able to post here without being satirized, disparaged or deposed. I try to convey how I see the world and where it is headed and what is being left out of the equation, but I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me.

  • Steve Woodward

    I view this project as the equivalent of having your neighbors dog crap on your lawn. Has any of the gung ho greenies actually read the proposal put forth before the PSB for this project? Explain to me exactly how is it beneficial to Vermont to curtail a currently operating hydroelectric dam( Wilder Hydroelectric, Bellows Falls Vermont). While we’re at it let’s clear-cut nearly 40 acres of forest to make room for something that is unnecessary. Trees reduce carbon in the atmosphere. So let’s just go and cut some down. 38.5 acres is quite a large clear-cut. I notice they claim it’s just under 40 acres. Anything over 40 acres, will trigger special permission.

    • JohnGreenberg

      Steve Woodward:

      I have not read the contract or the proposal.

      “Explain to me exactly how is it beneficial to Vermont to curtail a
      currently operating hydroelectric dam( Wilder Hydroelectric, Bellows
      Falls Vermont).” I may have missed something, but I have no idea what you’re referring to. Please explain.

      Please explain why you think this project is “unnecessary.” In a previous comment, you cited “the Exxon Valdez, the BP oil spill, Chernobyl, 3 mile Island, the
      nuclear reactor in Japan, or the coal ash spill down south that polluted
      a river.” These (and far more) are environmental consequences of the current major sources of New England power. So why isn’t it “necessary” to replace them?

      • Steve Woodward

        I believe it is unnecessary to replace one renewable source that is online with another yet to be built. http://watchdog.org/292295/huge-solar-array-may-curtail-cheaper-renewable-energy/
        I veered off point some when I referred to those sources as being tainted. What I was getting at is that some, not all, renewable companies have bad business practices.

        • Matthew Davis

          Claiming that the Wilder Hydro plant will be replaced with the Coolidge solar project is totally false. The Coolidge project is totally contingent upon a grid impact study which has not been completed…. If it does impact Wilder it will likely be an occasional thing, as is stated in the Watchdog article.

          • Steve Woodward

            Sorry, I should have used the word displace, not replace. The CPG has already been awarded without an impact study, not contingent upon it. Just like the Watchdog article states. If there are issues with the studies, the PSB can revoke the CPG, something rarely done. There is no purchase agreement that is concrete, or no cost analysis on how much it’s going to cost to connect to the grid. Also, no price set for whoever buys the power. Not even details on how they plan to connect to the grid. That sure is a lot of unanswered questions. They wanted this hurried along so they could still be eligible for the tax credits. It’s all about the MONEY! Not doing what’s right and proper for the citizenry of Vermont. Read the last paragraph of the article from the energy consultant. He states “There’s such attractive incentives for solar that it gets built whether there’s really a need in the local system or not,” he said. “This leads to situations where it can’t be delivered to where it can be used.” If you think that they are not going to go forward, because of an uncompleted impact study, I have a bridge to sell you. The PSB failed once again in doing their job. You and I disagree on everything, but can we agree that allowing this CPG without the necessary studies is putting the cart before the horse?

          • Matthew Davis

            There are pretty attractive incentives for gas plants as well….why not a wood chip plant? Is there anything you would be happy with?

            “The PSB failed once again in doing their job.” Why not tell them that then? Why not speak with the governor about appointing someone that will do something you approve of?

          • Steve Woodward

            You didn’t address my point that a CPG was given without impact studies and relevant questions answered. Nice try at trying to change the subject though. I heard that Annette Smith interviewed for the job. What do you think about her?

          • Matthew Davis

            I can’t speak for the PSB as to why they issued a CPG prior to having these studies completed, but they certainly can revoke it. Your thoughts on the matter are purely conjecture and nothing more.

            On the topic of Annette Smith being appointed as the chair of the PSB, it is pretty clear that that would be a significant conflict of interest and would be a very poor decision on the Governor’s part. But, that would be the anti-changers dream come true…. If she wore her bat suit, then I would be ok with it.

          • Kathy Leonard

            Correct; the PSB abrogated their duty by going forward without these determinations; I doubt anyone could refute that.

          • Matthew Davis

            Have you communicated that to them?

          • Willem Post

            Steve,

            The grid study is critical. ISO-NE will have significant input to that study, before agreeing to connect the plant to the high voltage grid.

            See my above comment to Matthew.

          • Willem Post

            Matthew,

            The GMP 2.5 MW solar plant in Rutland is teamed with a 4 MW battery plant capable of storing 3.4 MWh to “firm” the variable solar energy before being allowed to feed into the grid, per ISO-NE requirements. Turnkey capital cost 7.5 + 5 = $12.5 million.

            This 20 MW solar plant likely will need a 32 MW battery plant with about 27 MWh of storage, at a capital cost of about $40 million.

        • JohnGreenberg

          Steve Woodward:
          “I veered off point some when I referred to those sources as being tainted” But nuclear power and fossil fuels ARE tainted, which is precisely why it IS necessary to replace them as soon as possible.

          Someone more expert than I might want to comment, but if your link is correct and the Wilder Dam were curtailed at moments of high solar production, it would actually end up storing the solar energy in the form of water behind the dam until the overproduction was no longer ongoing. How is that problematic, except as an potential inconvenience to the owner of the dam?

    • Willem Post

      Steve, anything over 25 acres requires special permits.

  • Steve Woodward

    If Senator Christopher Bray (chairman of the Senate Committee of Energy and Natural Resources) gets his way, S 51 will get put into law without proper debate. Right now, even though the crossover deadline has come and gone, he has taken the number off from it, and snuck it into a current energy bill. They pull this every year. Controversial legislation such is act 174 from last year, gets rammed through at the last minute because everyone wants to go home. A bill as important as this needs proper debate and discussion. Not a hurried attempt to get something through because it didn’t get out of committee. This is something that will affect the state FOREVER! And to have one man’s folly affect all of us for perpetuity is just not acceptable. These bad projects will explode exponentially because developers will have a green light, due to this mandate. Regardless of what side of the aisle your beliefs are on, legislation as important as this needs full disclosure and full debate. Way past time for an ethics committee.

    • Willem Post

      Steve,
      This is very bad news, if Bray manages to attach it to a must-pass bill at the last minute.
      He’ ll likely attach it to one that would have veto proof aye votes, and Scott could nothing about it.
      No wonder RE lobbyists have been so quiet. The fix is in, on the sly.

      Making the aspirational 90% goal of all primary energy a state mandate will require about $33 billion, according to Energy Action Network, or about $1 billion per year for the next 33 years.

      Rich Germany has a goal of 60% of all PE by 2050, as part of its Energiewende.

    • Paul Drayman

      Steve, you are right on!! Those of us who are opposed to the way RE development has been going so far, haven’t seen anything yet. Legislation coming along, new transmission lines designed for RE hook-up ( important to Vermont’s future) and RE developers waiting in the wings for the infrastructure are all poised to enforce a particular view of electrical power generation on the state and on rural Vermont in particular. Those efforts will soon overwhelm our opposition in sheer numbers of projects, let alone the influence of the industry lobby and money.
      These proposals change the face of the landscape as well as impacting underlying environmental concerns. The result is a minuscule amount of power into the grid, creation of a little tax revenue, very few permanent jobs and an income stream for developers and land owners to the objection of the majority of the local citizenry.