Sara Gideon: Increasing Clean and Renewable Energy

According to Gideon's agenda, Mainers will save money on both energy and healthcare costs with more wind and solar. Really?

Sara Gideon: Increasing Clean and Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has the potential to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while attracting investment, providing revenue in lease payments, growing tax revenue in small towns, and reducing electricity bills for consumers. Our state’s current electricity infrastructure is aging, and its future is uncertain. This is a critical issue for rural Mainers.

As production and consumption of renewables increases, particularly wind and solar, Mainers will save money on both energy and healthcare costs. Maine has the capacity to continue to develop onshore and offshore wind as well as to continue to grow solar capacity from rooftop to gridscale levels. Looking towards innovation in the biomass industry, we can also capitalize on our forest products to accelerate the shift to renewable energy.

Sara passed a bill setting a goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy in Maine by 2050 and supported the economic renewal of Maine’s biomass industry. Once elected to the Senate, she will support a Clean Energy Standard requiring utilities to increase the amount of carbon-free power they put on the grid. She will also work to increase federal investment in clean energy innovation to support universities and entrepreneurs who are driving new industries and creating jobs in Maine and across the country.

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Comment by Willem Post on August 8, 2020 at 3:23pm



In summer, highly subsidized, expensive, variable, intermittent solar dozes off in late afternoon/early evening, sleeps all night, and does not wake up until about mid-morning the next day, becomes very active around midday creating DUCK-curves, especially on sunny days, then dozes off again in late afternoon/early evening.


In winter, solar dozes off in late afternoon, sleeps all night, and does not wake up until about mid-morning the next day, becomes very active around midday creating DUCK-curves, especially on sunny days, then dozes off again in late afternoon.


1) Net-Metered Solar Charged to Rate Base at a Legacy Cost of About 21.7 c/kWh


“GMP estimated the 263,515 MWh of net-metered generation (almost all of it solar, but also including minor quantities of small hydro, small wind, etc.) in its customer area will lead to $33 million in cost shifting, from solar system owners to non-owner ratepayers, in 2020, equivalent to 5% of its total annual cost of serving customers.”


Vermont utilities net-metered solar was about 288,124 MWh at end 2019, likely about 10% greater in 2020.

That means total solar cost shifting for 2020 would be about (288,124 x 1.1)/265,515 x 33 million – Other N-M systems = $38 million


Net-Metered production cost, amortized at 3.5% for 25 y, is about 14.821 c/kWh

Net-Metered system owners get paid about 17.4 c/kWh, for a profit of 2.579 c/kWh.

Inverter replacements in about year 12 and O&M are not included

See URLs


2) Standard Offer Solar Charged to Rate Base at a Legacy Cost of About 21.7 c/kWh


Standard Offer likely would have about $11 million in cost shifting, including due to high subsidies and high feed-in tariffs, about 10 c/kWh (recent systems), up to 30 c/kWh (older systems), paid to the millionaire owners in 2020.


Standard Offer systems, competitively bid, pay to owners about 10 c/kWh

The amortized cost, at 3.5% for 25 y, of S-O systems is about 14.418 c/kWh, which means the net effect of subsidies is about 4.418 c/kWh, due:


1) Federal and state subsidies

2) Interest and depreciation write offs

3) Return on investment at 9%

4) Inverter replacements in about year 12 and O&M.


3) Utility-Owned and Privately-Owned Solar Charged to Rate base at a Legacy Cost of About 21.7 c/kWh


This category of solar systems, installed capacity of about 78 MW ac, or 94.3 MW dc, at end 2019, is about 33% larger than Standard Offer, i.e., not trivial.


This category is least written about, likely because utilities, such as GMP, are joining up with multi-millionaire, private investors, to build large-scale solar systems.


Those investors may be part of the pro-RE elite in Vermont, i.e., affiliated with EAN, VEIC, VELCO, VPIRG, etc., who frequently agitate for more solar subsidies to “save the world".

Why not get in on a good deal for decades, and do some virtue signaling regarding “fighting climate change” at the same time?


All is strictly business, i.e., milking subsidies to the maximum extent, pay the least state and federal taxes, and have a great, guaranteed, return on investment for decades.


It is assumed, for analysis purposes, Net-Metered numbers hold for Utility-owned systems, and privately-owned, in-state systems, who sell all their production to a Vermont utility under a PPA. See Note.


A cost of 21.7 c/kWh was assumed, because no published value is available to the public, due to not revealing “proprietary business information”, even though high levels of federal and state subsidies were involved.


What is the cost/kWh of legacy systems?

What is the cost/kWh of new systems?

Who are these private, multi-millionaire owners riding the Utility-solar-subsidy gravy train for decades?

Legislator family, friends and political campaign supporters quietly getting in on good deals, as part of “fighting climate change”?

Vermont ratepayers and taxpayers are paying through the nose, i.e., higher electric rates than they would have been, but are kept in the dark!


NOTE: I was not aware of this large category, until I saw the VELCO graph. See page 24 of URL


NOTE: The NE wholesale prices have averaged about 5 c/kWh starting in 2009, i.e., 11 years, courtesy of low-cost, near-zero-CO2 nuclear, and low-cost, low-CO2 natural gas.

This is the price at which utilities buy electricity on the wholesale market.


NOTE: All this cost shifting is on top of the $60 + million/y added to electric bills for the utter-boondoggle, called Efficiency Vermont. About 90% of what EV does would have happened anyway, because Vermonters are not stupid, when it comes to saving money.


NOTE: All this cost shifting does not include NE grid extension/augmentation, and the costs of the up and down ramping of gas turbines connected to the NE grid to counteract the wind/solar variations, 24/7/365. See table 3


NOTE: It is assumed, solar has a value to utilities of about 8.5 c/kWh, due to local generation, etc.

In the future, that value likely would decrease, as more solar is built-out on a distribution grid, because Duck-curves would increase, and expensive storage would be required, and curtailment payments to owners would be required, etc.; solar appears to be a gift that keeps on taking.


Table 4 shows a summary of all three solar categories.


Table 4/ Solar cost shifting

Lae Systems

Large Systems

rgSmall Systems

Standard Offer

Utility + Other


Capital cost, turnkey










Amortized at 3.5%, 25 y





Fed Tax Credit, 26%



FTC amortized



Net capital cost






Amortized cost of turnkey cap cost





Bonus effect of Subsidies + ROI @ 9%




Bonus effect of FTC



Paid to owner





Utility costs





Charged to rate base, new





Charged to rate base, legacy






Value of solar claimed by utility














Charged to rate base






NE wholesale






Excess to rate base






Comment by Willem Post on August 8, 2020 at 3:20pm



Is not it amazing, after EAN, VEIC and VELCO advocated solar build-outs that are totally unrealistic, the VT House comes out with a Bill to increase solar build-outs?


This section has information from this Seven-Days article, which contained some interesting information.


The Bill mandates utilities buy 20% of their electricity supply, about 1.2 BILLION kWh/y, from in-state RE sources which effectively means solar, because the other RE sources are barely growing.




- Is, by far, the most expensive electricity in the portfolio of VT utilities, such as GMP. See Appendix.

- Imposes the greatest threat to the stability of the grid, due to ever-larger DUCK-curves, as have happened in southern Germany and southern California

- Would make the use of EVs and heat pumps prohibitively expensive.


The Bill appears uncomplicated to lay people, and some legislators eager to please Vermont solar businesses, but is far from it, according to energy systems analysts at VT-DPS and GMP, who oppose the solar expansion for various reasons.


- Vermont had installed 364.24 MW ac, or 438.84 MW dc, at end 2019, per ISO-NE/VT-DPS, which had a legacy capital cost of about $2 billion.

- In 2019, solar electricity generation was about 475,248 MWh, or 475.25/6000 = 7.9% of supply to utilities, or 475.25/5600 = 8.5% of consumption via wall sockets.

- Vermont installed solar would need to increase to about 20/8.5 x 438.84 = 1033 MW dc, at end 2032, per House Bill. See Note.

- The additional capital cost would be about (1032 – 438.84) x $3 million/MW = $1.781 billion, or $137 million/y for 13 years, excluding:


1) Grid extension/augmentation to connect solar systems and deal with solar variability

2) Increased connections to nearby grids to minimize disturbances due to solar

3) Any storage to deal with midday DUCK-curves

4) Any inverter replacements in about year 12 and O&M


Historically, items 1, 2 and 3 have been charged to ratepayers, taxpayers, and added to government debt.

If they had been charged to owners of solar systems, they would be a lot less eager to have solar.


NOTE: Legislators, and pro RE-entities, usually offer the “easy-talk/hand-waving” option of “we do this and that, by that date, and Vermonters will save lots of money, and save the climate”.

However, the experts at VT-DPS and GMP have no choice, but to evaluate the A to Z picture of cost and physical implications of increased solar on:


1) Electric rates, c/kWh

2) Stability of the grid

3) Expansion/reinforcement of the grid

4) Substations on grids with solar systems needing to be arranged to receive and send power.


If they did not, all hell may break loose, such as costs/kWh going through the roof, and the grid becoming unstable, especially on sunny days and variable-cloudy days, at some future date.


Wind/Solar Lulls


Some Bill proponents likely do not realize, Vermont (and New England, and Germany and Denmark, etc.) often has wind/solar lulls (extended overcast periods, with rain or snow, and little or no wind) of up to 5 to 7 days, i.e., the combined wind/solar output that could have been expected, for that time of year, is, in fact, less than 15% of expectations. Sometimes, a second lull follows the first one a few days later.

Where would the shortfall come from?

Traditional generators in nearby states?



Subsidized Solar Profiteers Aided and Abetted by Legislators


James Moore of SunCommon, politically well-connected, wants to build-out solar for solar’s sake, because he makes good money installing solar systems. He does not care about:


1) Net-Metered solar and Standard-Offer solar being charged to the utility rate base at up to 21.7 c/kWh, whereas such solar is worth to a utility about 8.5 c/kWh; N-M and S-O are the most expensive energy sources in the GMP electricity supply mix. See Appendix

2) The capital cost of expensive grid extension/augmentation to physically connect solar systems and expensive battery storage to subsequently deal with their output variations. See Solar Coddling Services.

3) Ratepayers, taxpayers, etc., paying through the nose, while they are being told various fables/fantasies about Vermont fighting climate change. See explanation of cost-shifting in Table 4.

4) His subsidy-fueled solar job creation causing increased costs, decreased job creation, and anemic growth in other sectors.


Free Solar Coddling Services: James Moore does not care about midday, grid-disturbing, DUCK-curves, and grid-disturbing downward output spikes due to variable cloudy weather.


Owners of other generators, mostly gas turbine plants, are required to rapidly decrease their outputs to let his unruly, unreliable, expensive, solar onto the grid, starting around mid-morning, and then they are required to rapidly increase their outputs to fill the void, as solar nods off to go to sleep, starting late-afternoon/early-evening (a period with peak demands, mind you), until about mid-morning the next day.


A rational person likely would think it is a true miracle, that solar, being such an expensive, troublesome, mostly absent “worker”, is getting all these subsidies, plus free coddling services.


Table 3 shows the prices of solar, before and after subsidies, and before and after cost shifting, in sun-starved New England.


Table 3/Vermont & NE sources


Grid support*


Paid to


 Added to



to owner



rate base







Solar, residential rooftop, net-metered, new







Solar, residential rooftop, net-metered, legacy







Solar, com’l/ind’l, standard offer, new*







Solar, com’l/ind’l, standard offer, legacy







Wind, ridge line, new*








* Grid support includes FORTRESS VERMONT grid extension/augmentation, storage to deal with DUCK-curves, curtailment payments to solar system owners, traditional generators (mostly gas turbines) counteracting solar output variations, etc.

* Competitive bidding reduced prices paid to owner from 24 – 30 c/kWh to about 11.0 c/kWh


Observations by Castonguay, Chief Innovation Officer at Green Mountain Power


Castonguay stated, paraphrased:


- Storage would increase rates by 6 to 12%; that would be on top of any regular rate increases. Not good for promoting EVs and heat pumps.

- Solar has become too much of a good thing, and the grid upgrades needed to handle an intermittent power source have become an expensive problem. See Note.

- Other, lower-cost, in-state and out-of-state sources of renewable electricity need to be added to the utility mix.


NOTE: How can solar be a “good thing”, if it has midday DUCK-curves that disturb the grid and cost a lot of money to fix with storage and grid upgrades, plus owners of gas turbine plants incurring extra costs for counteracting the varying solar outputs, all adding up to a cost of  about 25 c/kWh, about five times NE wholesale grid prices?


Observations by McNamara, Planning Director at VT-DPS


McNamara claims a study is required to determine solar’s grid and rate impacts. He stated, paraphrased:



- Prior net-metered rates were too high, because solar capital costs per kW had decreased, and the resulting excessive solar installation rates were unsustainable; a rate reduction was overdue

- Electric rates must be kept low to encourage people to use EVs and heat pumps

- Focusing on solar, regardless of costs, would further worsen the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy, and prolong the adverse employment conditions of the “Virus economy”.


Grid Resiliency:

- Focusing on new in-state generation, mostly solar, is “isolationist”, which would lead to less resiliency.

- Massive storage to deploy “solar for solar’s sake” would be unwise regarding grid stability, and unnecessary.

- Vermont’s grid needs to be connected to nearby grids (Canada and New York) for maximum resiliency. See how European countries connect grids to counteract wind/solar fluctuations in this URL


Revising the In-State 20% Bill


It looks like the Bill will be significantly revised to give utilities a lot more flexibility, such as lifting the cap on utility purchases from Hydro-Quebec to, say 50% of their supply.


That would help maintain Vermont electric rates at lower levels, than would heavily subsidized, expensive, solar build-outs, which would be good for:


1) Job creation in all sectors of the Vermont economy

2) Deployment of EVs and heat pumps

3) No expensive storage for ever-larger DUCK-curves

4) No expensive grid extension/augmentation to connect the solar systems



GMP has a 20-y contract with HQ for 1.2 million MWh per year, at 5.549 c/kWh. See Appendix

Massachusetts has a 20-y contract with HQ for 9.45 million MWh per year, at 5.9 c/kWh.

Comment by Penny Gray on August 8, 2020 at 10:49am
It's truly tragic that all politicians aren't required to take basic science and statistic courses, along with a primer in critical thinking. I honestly have to believe that many of these politicians have been brainwashed by corporate media and their political agenda, right along with the masses. The information is all out there if they wanted to educate themselves, but in the end it's all about the votes.
Comment by Donna Amrita Davidge on August 8, 2020 at 5:40am
I meant baldacci but maybe spell check is more intelligent than me..
Comment by Donna Amrita Davidge on August 8, 2020 at 5:39am
Why are these lies so propagated? I was heartbroken to hear they are planning to put 100 more near highly ranked historic lake Mattawamkeag .. their presentation was just as full of bull crap as usual.. with no recourse because it is in an “territory” and because of our ridiculous expedited wind law.. thanks balsamic and angus king for ruining our stare with your lies - particularly pristine (prior) Aroostook County.. and whoever this Gideon is too lying her way into politics..

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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