Bill to jumpstart northern Maine’s renewable energy industry earns Janet Mills’ signature

Bangor Daily News | June 30, 2021 | bangordailynews.com ~~

MADAWASKA, Maine – Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill to give Aroostook’s renewable energy industry a boost Tuesday afternoon.

LD 1710, which passed through the Legislature with bipartisan support, looks to connect the Northern Maine energy grid to the one powering the rest of New England. The hope is to facilitate renewable energy exports, which are costly right now as northern Maine’s power has to be wheeled through New Brunswick before it can be distributed in the U.S.

The next step is for the Public Utilities Commission call for bids to build the transmission line. The Legislature has asked the PUC to have a contract in place by November 2022. The law also includes a request for bids on new renewable energy plants in the parts of Aroostook and Washington counties currently unconnected to the ISO-New England grid.

The legislators responsible for the bill, including its sponsor Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook, hope that this will be transformative for northern Maine’s economy.

Continue reading:

https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2021/07/01/bill-to-jumpstart-northe...

Legislature passes consumer-owned utility bill after Maine Senate reverses course

But supporters would have to pick up additional votes to override a likely veto from Gov. Janet Mills, who has expressed concerns about the buyout of CMP and Versant Power's assets.

AUGUSTA — The Legislature passed a controversial bill Wednesday to create a consumer-owned utility through a forced buyout of Maine’s two largest electricity providers, setting up a potential veto from Gov. Janet Mills.

Roughly two weeks after the bill failed by a single vote, supporters were able to flip several senators after adding a requirement that the new, consumer-owned utility would still have to pay property taxes to cities and towns. But neither the 18-14 vote in the Senate or an earlier 77-68 vote in the House would be enough to override a veto from Mills, who has expressed numerous reservations about the bill.

Wednesday’s Senate reversal was nonetheless a major victory for supporters, who have accused the parent companies of Central Maine Power and Versant Power of prioritizing investors at the expense of Maine consumers.

“With this historic action, we are calling for the chance to let Maine people decide our own energy future – the chance for more affordable, more reliable, cleaner and Maine-operated power and greater connectivity throughout Maine,” Rep. Seth Berry, a Bowdoinham Democrat who has led the years-long push, said in a statement. “The Pine Tree Power Company will finally let us reinvest the money from our electricity bills back into the grid instead of sending it to investors overseas who have never set foot in Maine. The most recent spate of outages and CMP’s request for a double-digit rate increase makes this referendum all the more urgent.”

Opponents, including CMP and Versant, have decried the bill as a “government takeover” of private businesses.

Mills has 10 days, excluding Sundays, to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without her signature. If the bill, L.D. 1708, became law, voters would have the final say during a statewide referendum this November about whether to create a consumer-owned utility.

Continue reading here:

https://www.pressherald.com/2021/06/30/maine-senate-changes-course-...

Electricity rate changes may loom for customers of Versant, CMP

...............The state’s largest electric utility, Central Maine Power Co., is also seeking a rate increase. The company is asking the PUC to approve a $72 million hike in transmission and delivery charges, starting in August, according to published reports. That increase could cost a typical residential customer an additional $8.65 a month.

Read the full article here:

https://www.mainebiz.biz/article/electricity-rate-changes-may-loom-...

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Comment by Robert Feller on July 7, 2021 at 9:48am

Endless Resuscitation Required: Wind & Solar Simply Can’t Survive Without Massive Subsidies

As soon as the subsidies for wind and solar dry up, so does the investment in generating capacity, proving the point that neither wind nor solar can survive for very long without guaranteed, government-mandated support; whether in the form of Production Tax Credits, Renewable Energy Certificates or penalties and fines laid on retailers if they do not purchase sufficient quantities of unreliable wind and solar to satisfy their obligations under renewable energy targets.

William Murray tells the tale by tapping into the superhero meme.

Wanna Live Forever? Become an Energy Tax Credit; They Can’t Seem to Die
C3 Solutions
William Murray
14 June 2021

Renewable energy tax credits are either the superheroes or the vampires of energy policy. They simply can’t die. At this rate, they deserve a comic book series of their own. Five times in the past two decades, wind and solar tax credits were ready to expire, only to be resurrected in later bills or saved at the last moment.

The latest example passed at the bitter end of the Trump administration, with the wind industry’s production tax credit (PTC) being extended by one year to the end of 2021. Offshore wind projects had a 30 percent credit for projects that begin construction extended several years until 2025.

Solar power came out better as well, receiving a two-year extension of its Investment Tax Credit (ITC) through the end of 2023, with large-scale solar projects receiving funds until the end of 2024.

The year 2020 was supposed to be the year when wind and solar tax credits died. Some people were even excited about attending the funeral. In the 2015 tax credits package, Texas Congressman Joe Barton cut a masterful deal to extend renewable tax credits worth about $75 billion through 2020 in return for a lifting of the export ban on U.S. crude oil. The wind industry argued at the time that as wind technology improved, the 2015 extension be the last one necessary before the industry would be able to stand on its own, with no need for tax credits in the 2020s.

But the 2015 agreement was breached by the most recent tax extenders package; the funeral will have to wait.

The problem with the Superhero world is that all long-term positive human behavior, like the deferring of gratification, gets corrupted. Why save for college or turn down your thermostat when a caped crusader who can swoop in and save your bacon? Have you noticed that no character seems to work or spend money within Superhero comics or movies? How does a capitalist economy work when mistakes are undone by a Deus ex Machina every 30 minutes?

For instance, imagine a well-functioning insurance market where Thanos and Thor destroy five cities in an afternoon, yet no one dies from the explosions?

Exactly.

Any market touched by tax credits get corrupted in a similar fashion. Market signals and price discovery simply don’t work well. Wind and solar farms are built because they are profitable for a small set of Wall Street tax-equity investors, not for the public good. At the same time, electric vehicle rebates go to the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans who can afford a $70,000 car, while the middle and working classes take a bus to work.

Even left-of-center publications like The New Republic complain that tax credits currently operate as a tax shelter for tech companies like Amazon and Google to shrink their tax bills. It turns out JP Morgan, Chase and Bank of America do more than half of the $18 billion per year business and take a cut for themselves. And since 2008, tax equity has been more than twice as expensive as debt financing, undermining the core argument for the policy in the first place.

But instead of letting nature run its course, the Biden administration is looking to take tax credits to the next level. The current White House plan would extend “clean energy” tax credits for 10 years’ worth tens of billions of dollars and recommends a “direct pay” system to let renewable energy developers receive direct payments – cash – instead of a tax credit.

“This is something that has never been done to a business in this country,” said Mike McKenna, a former White House Congressional liaison and energy lobbyist in an interview with C3 Solutions. “You are starting to edge very close to nationalizing industry.”

McKenna says wind and solar generally can’t pay for themselves without federal subsidies or state mandates. But he warns “direct pay” will create even worse consequences if and when Republicans come back into power since direct payments are even more abhorrent to Republican views on energy policy than tax credits.

“The next time the Republicans get on top of this game, those things are all going to die, and not a slow death, but as soon as Republicans get control,” said McKenna. “Five years from now, there is going to be a hell of a lot of bankruptcies in the solar and wind worlds when all those direct payments go away. That’s something everyone should be trying to avoid, not encourage.”

In a Superhero world, reality returns when the screen goes black. In the real world, where mistakes can’t be edited out or rewritten, misallocating tens and even hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer resources over a series of years can have serious political and economic consequences for families, businesses and the environment. U.S. consumers currently have some of the least expensive retail electricity prices in the developed world. In the end, someone will be paying for these investments in the form of higher energy prices, or worse yet, generalized, long-term inflation. And less economic freedom means a dirtier environment.

And no one will come swooping down to save us from that.

Comment by Willem Post on July 6, 2021 at 8:40am

“Sen. Chris Bray, D-Addison, who chairs the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, said he wants to make sure homeowners have access to weatherization efforts, modifying buildings to reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency. See VTDigger article.

https://vtdigger.org/2021/07/04/climate-council-has-until-december-...

Chris,

BUILDINGS

The standard “weatherizing”, at about $10,000 each, as practiced by Vermont, is totally inadequate for Vermont’s energy hog houses.
It is next to useless to make those houses suitable for heat pumps.

The only way to come anywhere near any CO2 goals, is to build EACH YEAR several thousand net-zero-energy houses and apartments, and energy-surplus houses and apartments.

All of them would need solar panels, batteries, and heat pumps, and large hot water storage tanks.

The energy surplus houses/apartments would have extra solar panels and extra batteries to power EVs.

GAS GUZZLER TAX

As you know, EAN has grossly overestimated the CO2 reduction of an EV, (about 4.5 metric ton/y/EV), because of incorrect assumptions.
The actual reduction is much less.

Vermont needs a gas-guzzler code to impose a fee on low-mileage vehicles.
The more below 40-mpg, the greater would be the fee.
Vehicles with greater than 40-mpg, such as the 54-mpg Toyota Prius, would be exempt.

EVs

RE folks would have everyone drive unaffordable EVs, that would not reduce much CO2 compared with EFFICIENT gasoline vehicles.

On a lifetime, A-to-Z basis, with travel at 105,600 miles over 10 years, the CO2 emissions, based on the present New England grid CO2/kWh, would be:

NISSAN Leaf S Plus, EV, compact SUV, no AWD, would emit 25.967 Mt, 246 g/mile; about a FIFTY PERCENT REDUCTION compared to the present VT LDV mix, which includes larger vehicles than the Nissan Leaf.

TOYOTA Prius L Eco, 62 mpg, compact car, no AWD, would emit 26.490 Mt, 251 g/mile
SUBARU Outback, 30 mpg, medium SUV, with AWD, would emit 43.015 Mt, 407 g/mile
VT LDV mix, 22.7 mpg, many with AWD or 4WD, would emit 56.315 Mt, 533 g/mile

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/electric-bus-systems-l...

HEAT PUMPS

Heat Pumps are Money Losers in my Vermont House (as they are in almost all Vermont houses)

My annual electricity consumption increased about 50% (the various taxes, fees, and surcharges also increased), after I installed three Mitsubishi, 24,000 Btu/h heat pumps, each with 2 heads; 2 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen, and 1 in each of 3 bedrooms.
The heat pumps last about 15 years.

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-co2-reduction-o...

They are used for heating and cooling my 35-y-old, well-sealed/well-insulated house. It has 2” of blueboard (R-10 vs R-0.67 for 8” concrete) on the outside of the concrete foundation and under the basement slab which has saved me many thousands of heating dollars over the 35 years.

Before heat pumps, my space-heating propane was 1000 gal/y, after heat pumps, it was 830 gal/y, a reduction of 170 gal/y, or $310/y, at $2.399/gal. Additional electricity costs were $609/y. I am losing money
Domestic hot water, DHW, heating, requires about 200 gallon/y

My existing Viessmann propane system, 95%-efficient in condensing mode, is used on cold days, 15F or less, because heat pumps have low efficiencies, i.e., low Btu/kWh, at exactly the same time my house would need the most heat; a perverse situation, due to the laws of Physics 101!!

The heat pumps would be slightly more efficient than electric resistance heaters at -10F, the Vermont HVAC design temperature. It would be extremely irrational to operate air source heat pumps, at such temperatures.

I have had no energy cost savings, because of high household electric rates, augmented with taxes, fees and surcharges. Vermont forcing, with subsidies, the addition of expensive RE electricity to the mix, would make matters worse!!

Amortizing the $24,000 turnkey capital cost at 3.5%/y for 15 years costs about $2,059/y; I am losing money.

There likely will be service calls and parts for the heat pumps, as the years go by, in addition to annual service calls and parts for the existing propane system; I am losing more money.

https://www.myamortizationchart.com

NOTE:
If I had a highly sealed, highly insulated house, with the same efficient propane heating system, my house would use very little energy for heating.
If I would install heat pumps* and would operate the propane system on only the coldest days, I likely would have energy cost savings.
However, those annual energy cost savings would be overwhelmed by the annual amortizing cost, i.e., I would still be losing money, if amortizing were considered.

* I likely would need 3 units at 18,000 Btu/h, at a lesser turnkey capital cost. Their output, very-inefficiently produced, would be about 27,000 Btu/h at -10F, the Vermont HVAC design temperature.

NOTE: VT-Department of Public Service found, after a survey of 77 heat pumps installed in Vermont houses (turnkey cost for a one-head HP system is about $4,500), the annual energy cost savings were, on average, $200, but the annual amortizing costs turned that gain into a loss of $200, i.e., on average, these houses were unsuitable for heat pumps, and the owners were losing money.

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

Comment by Willem Post on July 1, 2021 at 2:43pm

171 Scientists: CO2 Budget Of Electric Mobility “Twice As Big As Assumed” By European Leaders

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/06/30/171-scientists-co2-budget-of...

I am surprised, it took these “171 scientists” so long to come up with their letter to the EU folks in Brussels.

The Brussel folks seem to be in their own alternate universe of reality, full of biased assumptions.

They are hoping scare-mongered, non-technical folks will be sufficiently brain-washed to go along with their pronouncements for the future Nirvana.

The below article describes, in detail, EVs will reduce CO2 by about 50% of what Brussels EV proponents have been claiming. Their simplistic analyses are full of errors and omissions.

Any economic and CO2 analyses must be on a lifetime, A to Z basis, including the CO2 emitted by restructuring entire ECONOMIES for EVs, heat pumps, batteries, etc.

POOR ECONOMICS AND MINIMAL CO2 REDUCTION OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES IN NEW ENGLAND
https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/poor-economics-of-elec...

This article describes the efficiency of electric vehicles, EVs, and their charging loss, when charging at home and on-the-road, and the economics, when compared with efficient gasoline vehicles.
 
EVs are designed to be aero-dynamic, and to have low rolling resistance, efficient drive trains, and efficient batteries. This will minimize vehicle weight and maximize range. Tesla is the industry leader regarding efficient EVs.
 
In this article,

Total cost of an EV, c/mile = Operating cost, c/mile + Owning cost, c/mile, i.e., amortizing the difference of the MSRPs of an EV versus an equivalent, efficient gasoline vehicle; no options, no destination charge, no sales tax, no subsidies.

CO2 reduction of equivalent vehicleson a lifetime, A-to-Z basis = CO2 emissions of an efficient gasoline vehicle, say 30 to 40 mpg – CO2 emissions of an EV
 
It is important to assess the cost and operating impacts of large-scale use of EVs on electricity generation, grid capacity and grid-scale energy storage capacity, on an A-to Z basis.
 
This article has six parts and an Appendix.

SUMMARY
 
Real-World Concerns About the Economics of EVs
 
It may not be such a good idea to have a proliferation of EVs, because of:
 
1) Their high initial capital costs; about 50% greater than equivalent gasoline vehicles.
2) The widespread high-speed charging facilities required for charging “on the road”.
3) The loss of valuable time when charging “on the road”.
4) The high cost of charging/kWh, plus exorbitant penalties, when charging “on-the-road”.
 
High-Mileage Hybrids a Much Better Alternative Than EVs
 
The Toyota Prius, and Toyota Prius plug-in, which get up to 54 mpg, EPA combined, would:
 
1) Have much less annual owning and operating costs than any EV, for at least the next ten years.
2) Have minimal wait-times, as almost all such plug-ins would be charging at home 
3) Be less damaging to the environment, because their batteries would have very low capacity, kWh
4) Impose much less of an additional burden on the electric grids.
 
Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, save about the same amount of CO₂ as electric cars over their lifetime, plus:
 
1) They are cost-competitive with gasoline vehicles, even without subsidies.
2) They do not require EV chargers, do not induce range anxiety, can be refilled in minutes, instead of hours. 
3) Climate change does not care about where CO₂ comes from. Gasoline cars are only about 7% of global CO2 emissions. Replacing them with electric cars would only help just a little, on an A to Z, lifetime basis.
 
“Electrify Everything”, an easily uttered slogan that would costs $billions in Vermont
 
It would require:
 
– Additional electricity generation plants, such as nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro
– Additional grid augmentation/expansion to carry increased loads for future EVs and heat pumps
– Additional battery systems to store the midday solar electricity surges for later use, aka, DUCK-curve management.
– Major command/control-orchestrating to avoid overloading distribution and high voltage electric grids regarding:
 
1) Charging times and duration of EVs and heat pumps
2) Operating times of major appliances
3) Control of electricity demands of commercial/industrial businesses

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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