Vermont leaders back away from renewable energy goals - Citing Higher Costs

Vermont leaders back away from renewable energy goals

Two key legislators say businesses are worried about higher costs and that the 2017 state goal is unreachable.

By Dave Gram / The Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Two key state lawmakers said Tuesday that Vermont won't meet its goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2017, and they're withdrawing their support for setting a new goal of 30 percent renewable power by 2025.

Reps. Tony Klein and Margaret Cheney, the chairman and vice chairwoman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, also said legislation passed three years ago to offer premium prices to renewable energy project developers had fallen far short of its goal of bringing 50 megawatts of new renewable power onto the Vermont electric grid. Cheney said just 7.1 megawatts worth of such projects had been built.

The two Democrats said they were surprised to learn recently from the state Department of Public Service – the DPS regulates utilities – that the state likely would fall short of its 2017 goal. Of backing away from the more ambitious 2025 goal, Cheney said, "We don't want to put out a percentage because it sounds good and not be able to meet it."

"You have to balance ambition and what's doable," Klein said.

Citing a DPS report, the lawmakers said renewable energy projects already operating and in the pipeline currently add up to 16.5 percent of Vermont's retail electric sales. Five years is not long enough to plan and build enough new projects to reach the 20 percent goal, they said. And development is expected to slow in part because two key federal incentives for renewable power development are expiring.

The energy committee has been working since early January on legislation that had set the new 2025 goal. Klein said he was putting that bill aside to work on legislation to move the state toward mandatory recycling of solid waste. He said he had asked DPS officials to appear before the committee next week to make a new proposal regarding renewable energy.

Klein and Cheney said they had been hearing a groundswell of concern voiced by business lobbyists that getting more power from renewable sources, which are usually more expensive than electricity generated with nuclear or fossil-fuel-fired power, would drive up electric rates and make Vermont less competitive economically.

The rest is here.

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Comment by Willem Post on February 22, 2012 at 2:10pm

Vermont Leaders Back Away from Renewable Energy Goals; by Willem Post

Vermont leaders finally backed away from renewable energy goals, as have Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, etc.

The main reason is the lack of federal subsidies for the huge capital outlays required to obtain just a little of variable, intermittent, high-cost energy (3-5 times NE annual average grid prices) that is not all that "clean, green, CO2-free", as shown by below studies. Households and businesses, already under pressure from the Great Recession and Irene, in belt-tightening mode, and worried about higher energy costs lowering living standards and making Vermont’s economy even less competitive.

Reps. Klein and Cheney, announced: 

- the VT-DPS informed them Vermont would not meet its goal of 20% of its energy from in-state renewables by 2017; if all RE projects now in the planning stages are built – highly unlikely – Vermont would be getting about 18% of its energy from renewable sources by 2017.

- they are  withdrawing their support for setting a new goal of 30% renewable energy by 2025. Klein: "You have to balance ambition and what's doable" Cheney: "We don't want to put out a percentage because it sounds good and not be able to meet it." 

The SPEED program, set up in 2009 to offer premium prices to RE project developers (otherwise their projects would not be viable), has fallen far short of its goal of building 50 MW of RE projects. Just 7.1 MW of RE projects costing about $32 million has been built producing just a tiny quantity of energy and creating only about 3-5 net jobs; numerous studies in Spain, Italy, Denmark, England, etc., show, if subsidies cause some jobs to be created in the inefficient RE sector, the money taken from the private economy causes the loss of about 2-5 times that many jobs in other sectors. Here is an example of job shifting due to subsidies: 

Under the Vermont SPEED program it will take about $230 million of scarce funds to build 50 MW of expensive renewables that produce just a little of variable, intermittent and expensive power that will make Vermont less efficient at exactly the time it needs to become more efficient.  

The VT-DPS evaluated the program in 2009 and issued a white paper which stated about 35% of the $228.4 million would be supplied by Vermont sources, the rest, mostly equipment by non-Vermont sources, such as wind turbines from Denmark and Spain, PV panels from China, inverters from Germany; i.e., creating jobs abroad with Vermonter’s money. Gee, is that smart?

There would be spike of job creation during the 1-3 year construction stage (good for vendors) which would flatten to a permanent net gain of 13 full-time jobs (jobs are lost in other sectors) during the O&M stage.

It gets worse. Under the SPEED program, these projects sell their energy to the grid at 3-5 times annual average grid prices for 20 years; the high-priced energy is “rolled” into a utilities energy mix, resulting in higher electric rates for households and businesses; i.e., higher prices of goods and services, fewer jobs, lower living standards.

Most of the larger SPEED projects are owned by the top 1% of households that work with lobbyists, politicians and financial advisers to obtain generous subsidies for their tax-sheltered LLC projects that produce expensive energy at high cost/kWh and avoid CO2 at high costs/lb of CO2; inefficient crony-capitalism under the guise of saving the world from global warmi

Comment by Long Islander on February 22, 2012 at 12:44pm

I always thought hydro renewed itself every drop of rain, dew and melting snow.

So why is large hydroelectric not considered renewable, other than protecting the wind industry who has rigged the game? People should be arrested for making these sorts of laws for the special interests at the expense of ratepayers.

Comment by Donna Amrita Davidge on February 22, 2012 at 12:04pm

sounds like Fletcher and LePage..let's hope more legislators start talking about it and acting on it..

not only cost but are they REALLY renewable in the larger sense of the word?

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."


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


(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 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?" 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.”

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