Cost of boosting renewable energy mandate gives senators pause

Credit: Kevin McCallum | Seven Days | Feb 19, 2020 | www.sevendaysvt.com ~~

A plan to speed up Vermont’s adoption of renewable energy is hitting headwinds over concerns about potentially enormous costs.

Senators seem to support a bill that would require electric utilities to get all of their power from renewable sources by 2030. The state’s renewable energy standard already calls for them to reach 75 percent renewable by 2032. So the new benchmark seemed manageable to members of the Senate Finance Committee.

But the bill’s call to double – from 10 percent to 20 percent – the amount of renewable energy that utilities would have to purchase from new Vermont sources like solar seemed to be a bridge too far for some senators.

Sen. Ann Cummings (D-Washington), who chairs the committee, cautioned members that the requirement was causing some utilities – and her – concern over potential cost hikes.

Officials from Vermont Electric Power Company, which manages the state’s electric power distribution, estimated it could cost $900 million to upgrade the grid with enough battery storage to handle the jump to 20 percent renewables.

“If this bill is going to come out [of committee], we’re going to have to find an anxiety level we can live with,” Cummings said.

The cool reception could signal trouble for S.267, one of the signature climate bills of the session. Environmental groups favor the move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Green Mountain Power officials testified the requirement could lead to a 4 percent increase in rates. Statewide, the increase could cost utilities – and therefore ratepayers – up to an additional $53 million, according to Ed McNamara, planning director for the Department of Public Service.

“Nobody is oblivious to what this would mean to ratepayers,” said Sen. Chris Pearson (P-Chittenden).

He stressed, however, potential boosts to the Vermont economy from green-energy jobs. Since peaking in 2016 at 6,965 positions, the number of those jobs has declined 12 percent, according to the Public Service Department.

It makes more sense for the state to increase its renewable energy capacity than merely to buy more green energy from out of state, said Ben Edgerly Walsh, director of the climate and energy program at the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

“If you look at the economic impacts and the resilience benefits of this kind of investment, it clearly is good for the state as a whole,” Edgerly Walsh said.

To ensure the state doesn’t become overly reliant on out-of-state energy sources, the bill includes what is effectively a cap at 33 percent for electricity purchased from Hydro-Quebec.

Read the full article at:

https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2020/02/20/cost-of-boosting-renewab...

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Comment by Willem Post on March 11, 2020 at 6:48am

COST SAVINGS OF AIR SOURCE HEAT PUMPS ARE NEGATIVE IN VERMONT, MAINE, ETC.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-savings-of-air-sou...

 

Vermont has a Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP. The capital cost for implementing the CEP would be in excess of $1.0 billion/y for at least 33 years, according to the Energy Action Network annual report. See URLs.

 

http://eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/EAN-2015-Annual-Report-... 

https://outside.vermont.gov/sov/webservices/Shared%20Documents/2016...

 

Spending on government energy programs, including Efficiency Vermont, has averaged about $210 million/y from 2000 to 2015, but Vermont CO2 emissions increased 18% from1990 to 2015. 

 

CEP Goals for Building Space Heat and Domestic Hot Water

 

63% from renewable electricity (wind, solar, hydro, biomass, etc.)

34% from wood burning (cordwood/pellet) and bio liquids.

3% from fossil fuels burning.

 

The CEP has a goal to install about 35,000 air source heat pumps, ASHPs, by 2025. ASHPs installed were:

 

2016, 4118

2017, 4161

2018, 2786

 

The 2018 decrease is likely due to ASHP owners, in energy-hog houses, becoming aware the average energy cost savings would be minimal. If other costs were added (amortizing, service calls, parts, etc.), they would have an annual loss. See URL.

 

Incompetent Efficiency Vermont, one of the major boosters of ASHPs, claiming $1200 - $1800 per year in savings, was assigned to (mis)manage the ASHP program.

 

After many complaints about minor savings by ASHP owners, it turned out actual energy cost savings averaged only $200/y, per CADMUS/VT-DPS survey. See URL

 

Annual Cost and CO2 Emissions

 

This article shows, an ASHP in an average energy-hog house in VT:

 

- Provided the owner energy cost savings of about $200/y. See table 7 and URL of VT-DPS website

- Required a turnkey capital cost of about $4,500/ASHP; excludes subsidies.

- Reduced CO2 from 25,123 lb/y to 20,129 lb/y, or 20.0%, at 28% fuel displacement.

- Would reduce CO2 from 25,123 lb/y to 8,231 lb/y, or 67.2%, at 100% fuel displacement. See table 1 and 6.

 

Table 1 shows, on average, ASHPs in energy-hog houses, are money losers at 28% displacement, and bigger losers at 100% displacement.

 

If the CEP goal is to "get rid of" fossil fuels and reduce CO2, then ASHPs in energy-hog houses in VT, NH, ME, etc., have been an expensive, ineffectual flop.

 

The same people who dreamt up this flop want to “double down” to implement the Global Warming Spending Act.

 

https://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/dps/files/documents/2017%20...

https://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/dps/files/documents/Energy_...

 

Table 1A/Status

 Displ. fuel oil

Fuel oil cost

 Electricity cost

Energy cost

 Amort.

Total

Min. Loss

CO2

CO2

$2.75/gal

$0.19/kWh

5%/y, 15y

%

$/y

$/y

$/y

$/y

$/y

$/y

lb/y

%

Before ASHP

0

2,455

0

2,455

0

2,455

25,123

After ASHP

28

1,768

477

2,244

427

2,671

215

20,129

19.9

After ASHP

100

0

1924

1,924

1,898

3,822

1,367

8,231

67.2

 

CEP 63% Goal Using ASHPs is Unattainable 

 

Vermont has about 265,000 households, of which:

 

About 97,000 households use cordwood/pellets for a part or all of space heat.

About 65,000 households use cordwood/pellets as primary fuel for space heat.

About 190,000 households use No. 2 fuel oil, propane or natural gas as primary fuel for space heat. 

About 10,000 households use electricity as primary energy for space heat.

 

At present, about 88% of Vermont's free-standing houses are unsuitable for 100% space heat from ASHPs. See table 3.

 

About 100,000 to 125,000 of Vermont's free-standing houses would need major energy retrofits, at a cost of about $30,000 per house ($3.0 to 3.75 billion), to reduce their space heat to less than 30,000 Btu/h, at 65F indoor and -10F outdoor, to make them economically suitable for 100% space heat from ASHPs.

 

After major retrofit, each house would need ASHP capacity of at least 30,000 Btu/h, at -10F, or about 65,000 Btu/h at 47F, at a cost of about $20,000 ($2.0 to $2.5 billion), for 100% space heat from ASHPs.

 

Typical space heat demands of 2000-ft2, free-standing Vermont houses are shown in table 1.

Buildings also require DHW, space cooling, and electricity.

 

Passivhaus Standard

 

The Passivhaus standard, conceived in 1988, is the gold standard regarding space heat. All other houses are much worse. 

 

Passivhaus-type housing were difficult to build, but lighting, appliances, heating, sealing, insulation, windows, doors, etc., have advanced to make it much easier during the last 15 years.

 

Vermont Needs to Enact and Enforce a Strict Building Energy Code

 

If Vermont, etc., had enacted and enforced a strict energy code for building in about 1990, or sooner (as many northern European countries did), there would be tens of thousands of houses and other buildings in Vermont that could be economically heated with ASHPs, but Vermont, etc., did not!

 

The obvious conclusion is highly sealed and highly insulated houses, with low heat demands at -10F, are absolutely essential for ASHPs to be economically successful.

 

ASHPs in WS/WI and HS/HI and Passivhaus houses would economically provide 100% of space heat from 65F to -10F. 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/air-source-heat-pumps-a...

 

Table 1/Vermont

Built

Area

Htg. Demand

Pk. Demand

Times

Air Leak

ACH

Unsuitable for ASHPs

%

ft2

(Btu/h)/ft2

Btu/h at -10F*

Passiv

ft3/min

@ -50 pascal

Typical older house

1750 - 1990

68.4

2000

40.0

80,000

12.6

2667

10.0

Newer house

1990 - 2000

10.0

2000

24.0

48,000

7.6

1600

6.0

Newer house, IECC

2000 - 2012

10.0

2000

20.0

40,000

6.3

1867

7.0

Suitable for ASHPs

"WS/WI house", IECC+ 

2012 - 2021

10.0

2000

15.0

30,000

4.7

800

<3.0

“HS/HI house”, IECC++ 

2000 - present

1.5

2000

8.5

17,000

2.7

400

<1.5

Passivhaus, IECC+++

1985 - present

0.1

2000

3.2

6,348

1.0

160

<0.6

100.0

 

Comment by Willem Post on February 20, 2020 at 11:42am

"But the bill’s call to double – from 10 percent to 20 percent – the amount of renewable energy that utilities would have to purchase from new Vermont sources like solar seemed to be a bridge too far for some senators."

The Holy Grail of 100% In-State Generation and Cost

 

After 2000, about 223,533 +263,315 + 2,298 = 489,146 MWh of in-state generation was expensively added, due to twenty years of dysfunctional government energy programs, that had the net effect of not reducing Vermont’s CO2.

 

All that money spent over 20 years led to about 0.49/6.0 = 8.2% of NEW in-state generation by 2018 that Vermont utilities were mandated to buy at high prices!!! That percentage may be slightly higher in 2000.

Wow, after all that jumping up and down for so little energy to "save the world", etc.

 

But, career-bureaucrats and career-legislators are proposing to go from 10% (the existing mandated cap) to 20% in-state generation (the new mandated cap), mostly wind and solar, plus large-scale energy storage systems, that UTILITIES WOULD BE MANDATED TO BUY AT HIGH PRICES.

Would that not cost many billions of dollars for rate payers and the Vermont economy?

 

- Large-scale electricity storage, plus large-scale grid augmentation, plus significant wind/solar generation capacity on ridge lines and open lands.

 

- Additional large-scale electricity storage, plus large-scale grid augmentation, plus significant wind/solar generation capacity would be required for future ASHPs and EVs on ridge lines and open lands.

 

- Future EVs and ASHPs, with sufficient capacity, for 100% space heating.

 

- Upgrading the energy efficiency of the pre-dominantly, energy-hog, free-standing houses and other buildings.

All that would cost tens of billions of dollars and have enormous environmental consequences in Vermont.

 

All that would cost tens of billions of dollars and have enormous environmental consequences in Vermont.

Getting much more hydro electricity from Canada would be soooo much more attractive for Vermonters. See Appendix.

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-savings-of-air-sou...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-proper-basis-for-ca...

 

See table 8 and Appendix

 

Table 8/VT In-state generation, fed to grid basis

2018

Energy Source

 MWh

Hydro, see Appendix

548,498

Non-net-metered, larger systems; mostly solar and wind

223,533

Net-metering, smaller systems; mostly solar, per GMP

263,315

Ryegate, wood-chip-fired, per US-EIA

166,902

McNeil, wood-chip-fired, per US-EIA

244,755

Middlebury College, wood-chip-fired, per US-EIA

2,298

Total

1,449,301

Comment by Willem Post on February 20, 2020 at 11:02am

"It makes more sense for the state to increase its renewable energy capacity than merely to buy more green energy from out of state, said Ben Edgerly Walsh, director of the climate and energy program at the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

“If you look at the economic impacts and the resilience benefits of this kind of investment, it clearly is good for the state as a whole,” Edgerly Walsh said.

To ensure the state doesn’t become overly reliant on out-of-state energy sources, the bill includes what is effectively a cap at 33 percent for electricity purchased from Hydro-Quebec."

This is pure BLARNEY.

Walsh of VPIRG is spouting nonsense.

He has been drinking the Kool-Aid provided by his RE friends.

He is a stooge for the wind, solar and storage interests that finance his organization.

Resilience benefits?

In-state generation and storage is clearly of benefit to the RE folks

Walsh will say anything to keep their bribes.

The 33% limit on HQ hydro has nothing to do with "BECOMING OVERLY RELIANT", but it has everything to do with keeping HQ out and making room for the local RE folks. 

MUCH MORE CLEAN, NEAR-ZERO CO2 HYDRO ELECTRICITY FROM CANADA

NE should have much more of clean (no particulates, etc.), near-zero-CO2 hydro electricity from Canada, which is eager to sell to us at a low c/kWh. GMP is buying about 1.2 million MWh/y of HQ electricity at about 5.7 c/kWh, under a recent 20-y contract.

 

However, greedy, subsidy-seeking, renewable energy entities in Vermont, working in cahoots with legislators and career bureaucrats, have been keeping it out for years.

 

They want electricity production, mostly heavily subsidized, wind and solar, done the home-grown, expensive way.

That electricity is made to LOOK less expensive by subsidies and cost shifting, but if subsidies and cost shifting are included, it would be very expensive. See Appendix.

 

A standard 1000 MW transmission line from Quebec to the Vermont border, about $1.5 billion, mostly paid for by Canada, could provide about 4.5 billion kWh/y of very clean, near-zero CO2/kWh, no particulate pollution/kWh, STEADY, 98% hydro-electricity, from Hydro Quebec, for about 6.0 - 6.5 c/kWh, under a 20-y power purchase contract.

 

The price would be adjusted based on at NE grid wholesale prices, which have been about 5 c/kWh starting in 2009, 11 years. It is the far beyond rational for Vermont to not buy more H-Q electricity.

 

Canada would build, and pay for, the transmission line to the Vermont border.

 

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/gmp-refusing-to-buy-add...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/green-mountain-power-co...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-shifting-is-the-na...

 

Comment by arthur qwenk on February 20, 2020 at 10:21am

At what point will the good citizens of the Northeast realize that "THe Green SCheme" was not designed to benefit them. THe Green Scheme is designed to benefit the elitists who designed it w/o the consent of the public. 

Is that time approaching?

see this :

VT vs US average.

Residential

20.16 cents/kWh 12.84 cents/kWh

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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