VEIC, BERC and EV: Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, VEIC, a non-profit, quasi-government entity, assumed control of:


- Efficiency Vermont in 2008. EV, a quasi-government entity, is financed by a state-mandated surcharge on electric bills, about $60 million in 2016, which is annually increasing.

- Biomass Energy Research Center, BERC, a non-profit, in 2012. BERC became an in-house, captive entity that performs biomass studies for VEIC, Vermont Energy Action Network and other pro-logging interests. Any BERC studies can be expected to boost the upsides of logging and smooth over the downsides.


EAN, an umbrella organization for many pro-renewable groups, provides major inputs to updates of the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, which has a goal (not legally required) of “90% RE of All Primary Energy by 2050”, not just electrical energy, which is about 35% of all primary energy at present.


Implementing the CEP goal would cost at least $1.0 BILLION PER YEAR from 2017 to 2050, and likely more thereafter, as estimated in the EAN 2015 Annual Report. See URL.


BERC Studies Skewed Towards More Wood Burning: BERC estimates, based on its own surveys and criteria, about 46.8% of Vermont’s forests inventory of live trees is low-grade, i.e., “suitable for wood burning”. The higher the percentage, the more wood would be “suitable for burning”. The physical reasons for a high percentage of low-grade live wood are:


- Deforestation of the 1800s, which leached much of the minerals from the soil.

- Acid rain from about the 1950s onward. See URLs.


The CEP Projects Even More Wood Burning


The CEP projects space heating from wood burning, which includes wood pellets, to increase from 10.730 TBtu in 2010 to 14.533 TBtu (heat to buildings, i.e., after combustion) by 2050, about a 35% increase. See pages 126 and 127 of CEP.


If that burning is at a similar annual average efficiency, the logging increase would be about 0.35 x 886,155, green ton (2014 Vermont harvest for space heating) = 310,154 green ton/y, or (1 - 0.45) x 310154 =170,585 dry ton/y.


The excess logging for burning would become 350265, existing excess + 170585, additional excess = 520,850 dry ton/y. A green ton is about 45% water. See note.


NOTE: According to USFS standards regarding nutrition, habitat, etc., Vermont’s harvest removals should be limited to 980,410 dry ton/y. However, Vermont’s 2014 harvest was 1,330,674 dry ton, an excess removal of 350,264 dry ton, per USFS.


The CEP increase would be feasible only if:


- All of the increase was imported from NH, MA and NY.

- Vermont already imported about 371,691 green ton for wood burning in 2015.

- Total imports would become 371,691, existing imports + 310154, additional imports = 803,425 green ton/y.

- McNeil and Ryegate were shutdown to make available about 347,342 (in-state) + 371,691 (out-of-state) = 719,033 green ton/y for future distributed wood burning for space heating, instead of wasteful wood burning in a power plant at about 25% efficiency. See below Source Factors.

- Significantly increased efficiency of wood burning would be implemented, which would require replacing most of Vermont wood burning heating systems.


NOTE: If NH, MA, and NY also increase theirwood burning, the wood available for import to Vermont likely would become less.


Source Factors


Electricity: Losses = Upstream (harvest, chipping, transport (2.5%) + Conversion to electricity, including site self-use (75%) + Transmission and distribution (7%) = 84.5%, i.e., 15.5% arrives at the user meters.


The source energy factor for wood power plants is 100/15.5 = 6.45, i.e., the energy equivalent of 5.45 of 6.45 trees is wasted. That value is much higher than the 3.33 assumed by Energy Action Network for only a part of the energy pathway.


Space Heating: Losses = Upstream (harvest, chipping, transport (2.5%) + Conversion to heat, including site self-use (30%) + Thermal distribution (5%) = 37.5%, i.e., 62.5% arrives at the user heating appliance.


The source energy factor for wood district heating plants is 100/62.5 = 1.6, i.e., the energy equivalent of 0.6 of 1.6 trees is wasted.

Analysis of Current Harvest Conditions

The below tables are based on data from: The 2016 USFS report (based on 2015 surveys); the 2010 BERC update report (mostly based on pre-2010 data); the 2015 VT-FPR report of the 2014 VT harvest; the 2015 wood burning by McNeil and Ryegate. 


2016 USFS Report, based on 2015 survey data


dry ton/acre

Forest area, per USFS



Aboveground biomass, dry ton, per USFS



Timberland area, per USFS



Aboveground biomass, dry ton, per USFS



Harvested area, 41% of forest area, per BERC



Aboveground biomass, dry ton, per USFS




dry ton/y

dry ton/acre/y

Net growth of growing stock trees, per USFS



Mortality of growing stock trees, per USFS



Removals of growing stock trees, per USFS*



Net growth/Removals ratio



2014 Vermont Harvest, per VT-FPR



Harvest for all uses, cords



Harvest, dry, live and dead trees, dry ton



Harvest, dry, live and dead trees, per USFS*, dry ton



Harvest, dry, live and dead trees, difference*, dry ton




*Removals” are estimated by measuring stumps in surveyed plots every 5 - 7 years; the stumps could be of live and dead trees.

* USFS explained in an email the “350,265 dry ton difference” may be due to USFS sampling being based on 1 plot per 6,000 acres, whereas VT-FPR harvest reports likely is based on mill surveys, and other, more detailed, information gathering.


Local loggers report taking a lot of dead, dying and other low-value trees, which appears to be true, based on my observations of watching chipping operations in my neighborhood. Nutrition and habitat benefits to a forest are reduced, if dead wood (mostly cull tops and limbs, and cull boles) is removed.


- Harvest for wood burning = mostly low-grade biomass + some dead biomass.

- Dead trees typically are left in the forest for habitat and nutrition.

- In case of clear-cutting (up to 40 acres is allowed without a permit), near zero wood is left for habitat and nutrition.

- Net growth = gross growth - mortality

BERC Estimates of Net Available Low-Grade Growth (NALG)


BERC claims 51.03/109 = 46.8% of Vermont’s live trees are low-grade, and therefore candidates for removal for burning.

The BERC low-grade wood percentage is high on purpose, because it enables BERC to claim ongoing growth of low-grade trees makes available high quantities of wood for burning, i.e., about 1,757,056 green ton/y of NALG. See page 25

BERC mentions the VT 2014 wood burning harvest was only1,233,497 green ton in 2014.

BERC has “proven” there is plenty of un-harvested NALG for burning and pulp, i.e., 1757056 - 1233497 = 523,559 green ton/y,

The message to legislators is not to worry. It is safe to vote for more logging for wood burning to save the world.

The lay public has not an inking as to what is going on.

It is told wood burning is CO2-neutral, which is far from the truth. See URL.


Discrepancy: NALG for burning and pulp is 894,893 green ton/y, per BERC report, mostly based on pre-2010 data. See page 29.

- It is not clear why that quantity is less than the 1,757,056 green ton/y. See page 25 and table.

- Could it be BERC was told to up its estimate for NALG to suit CEP wood burning goals and forgot to delete its old estimate?


BERC 2010 Report, based on pre-2010 data


green ton

green ton/acre

Forest area, page 20




Accessible, Appropriate, Managed area, page 20




Low-grade inventory of live trees, per BERC, page 23






green ton/y

green ton/acre/y

Net Available Low-grade Growth (NALG), page 25




NALG rate (USFS used 1.871 in 2015), %/y




VT 2014 wood burning harvest; see below table




Remaining NALG for burning and pulp





- BERC uses a slightly lesser forest acreage than USFS.

- Low-grade wood consists of cull tops and limbs; cull boles; growing stock tops and limbs; growing stock boles.

- Vermont wood burning was 1,233,497 green ton (in-state harvest, 2014) + 371,691 green ton (out-of-state harvest, 2015).

- Pulp log uses are for firewood; pulp/paper mills; wood chip power plants; commercial & institutional heating plants.

- VT pulp tonnage to pulp/paper mills has been decreasing in recent years.

Vermont Wood Harvest and Wood Burning

Vermont’s wood burning harvest was 886,155 green ton for firewood + 347,342 green ton for electrical generation = 1,233,497 green ton in 2014. See URL.


About 347,342/719,033 = 48% of total electrical tonnage was harvested in Vermont. See below table and URLs.


NOTE: A standard ton of green wood is 45% H2O, and dry wood is 50% carbon. Burning one ton of green wood creates 2000 x (1- 0.45) x 0.5 x (44/12)/2000 = 1.00833 ton of CO2 emissions.



VT Harvest

 Space heating



 Total Electrical

Total burning 







In Vermont























NOTE: Below are listed the wood tonnage and combustion CO2 tonnage of Vermont’s wood chip power plants in 2015.


Vermont Wood Power Plants










Electrical, wood

2015, McNeil




Electrical, wood CO2

EPA, McNeil



725,025 Emissions 2015.pdf TECHNICAL.pdf



Electrical Primary Energy is only About 35% of All Primary Energy: It is important to make a distinction between ALL primary energy, and electrical primary energy, which is only 35% of ALL primary energy. 


According the Vermont Energy Action Network, EAN, implementing the CEP for Vermont’s “energy transformation” (90% RE of All Primary Energy by 2050) would require capital investments of at least $33.3 billion during the 1917 - 2050 period, or about $1.0 billion/y, not counting interest and finance charges, and replacements and refurbishments, due to wear and tear, during that period. See URL Page 6 of annual report.


That burden is far in excess of what the near zero, real-growth Vermont economy (with tens of thousands of households and businesses in survival mode) could afford. 


The arbitrary, picked out of a hat, not legally binding, voluntary goal of “90% RE of All Primary Energy by 2050” should be reduced to about "50% RE of All Primary Energy by 2050". That would require about $500 million/y, a somewhat less onerous goal to aim for by the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy. Vermont likely would exhaust itself, even with that reduced goal.


According to the Report, as a minimum, the "energy transformation" would include:


- Weatherizing almost all buildings to be "zero-net-energy", or "energy-surplus", or be "off the grid", and providing them with heat pumps and solar systems, etc. See URLs.

- Replacing almost all light duty vehicles with electric vehicles; not high-mileage hybrids, as that would “lock in evil fossil fuels”. See URLs.

- Building EV charging stations everywhere.

- A very significant increase in liquid biofuels, such as ethanol-from-corn, which are partially renewable, but do notreduce CO2 compared to fossil fuels.

- A very significant increase in harvesting wood for burning from already-stressed forests, which is partially renewable, but does notreduce CO2 compared to fossil fuels. See URLs.


Here are some URLs regarding wood burning.


An Email from Chris Matera:


I wanted to mention that also the Forest Service is planning significant increases in logging of Green Mountain National Forest.

Here is one proposal, in the Rochester District, an area that represents about 15% of Green Mountain National Forest, and if I read the plan correctly, the plan is for logging, including clearcutting, of 9360 acres within an area of 59,400 acres in a 5 to 7 year period.  That is very aggressive.

Logging is now labeled  “vegetation treatments” and is claimed to "help" nature. See page 13 here:

Another project in the early stages is in the (currently) beautiful Somerset District.

That particular project is in the early stages, so it is hard to know the exact details, but they are using all the classic "management" language which likely means much logging, probably also including clearcutting.  What a sad sight it would be to look down from the top of Mt Snow and see clear-cuts, instead of that beautiful intact, un-fragmented forest we see now.

Here is the story:

The proposed timber sales mentioned above would be "below cost" meaning the costs outweigh the revenue, so the public would be subsidizing cutting their own National forests.

These are the only projects I have randomly stumbled across, but the other districts are likely to be targeted with similar proposals also.

For a reminder what the logging will look like that they are proposing in GMNF, see the recent results of very similar projects in White Mountain National Forest  (25 MB):


Ideally, NO wood should be removed from NE forests, because of clearcutting in the 1800s that killed the below-ground biomass causing runoffs and leaching out of tree growing minerals. 


Those soils STILL have not recovered, as evidenced by about 45% of live trees being spindly and of low quality. 


Pro-logging folks seize on that by claiming those trees are suitable for burning.


Acid rain since the 1950s further damages tree growth, due to year-round acid rainfall and spring snow melt.


Forest soils are in separate need of replenishment.


Sequestering Combustion CO2 From Wood Chip Burning Plants Takes Decades


Here is some information for those who have been led to believe, or persuaded themselves to believe, wood burning is environmentally friendly.


Forests have aboveground and belowground new growth, which absorbs CO2 from the air and carbon, C, from the soil. Removing live trees, low-grade and high-grade, reduces CO2 absorption. In Vermont, about 50% of tree removals is used for high-grade purposes (the C stays sequestered, until some of it is burned); and about 50% is used mostly for burning (the C becomes CO2 and is released to the atmosphere), and a small quantity is used for pulp/paper mills (the C stays sequestered, unless some of it is burned).


Wood burning power plants (McNeil, Ryegate in Vermont) emit about 4 times the combustion CO2/kWh of high-efficiency gas turbine power plants.


The combustion CO2 of the first year of heating plant or power plant operation would be sequestered by re-growing trees according to an S-curve over a long period (See notes); slowly increasing during the first 1/3, rapidly increasing during the second 1/3, and slowly increasing during the last 1/3 of the period. That would be not much help to prevent the world’s climate from falling off the cliff during the next 20 to 30 years.


NOTE: The combustion CO2 of wood burning would be reabsorbed by new tree growth, if:


1) Logged forests would have the same acreage (they likely would not)

2) Forests would not further fragmented by roads or developed (they likely would be)

3) Forest CO2 sequestering capability, Mt/acre/y, remains the same (it could be less). See note


NOTE: Regarding the time period for sequestering the combustion CO2:


- 40 years is a US average. See Note.

- 80 to 100 years in northern climates with short growing seasons, such as northern Vermont and Maine. 

- 40 to 50 years in moderate climates with longer growing seasons, such as New Jersey and North Carolina

- 25 years between harvests of planted, fertilized, and culled forests of fast-growing pines in Georgia.


NOTE: On an A to Z basis, there would be about 15% of additional CO2 that has nothing to do with combustion, in case of wood chips, or about 20%, in case of wood pellets. This includes non-wood-burning CO2, such as from:


- Fuel used for managing wood lots, logging, chipping/pelletizing and transport,

- Energy to run the plant,

- Energy for decommissioning and reuse/landfill of the plant,

- Embodied energy in the A to Z infrastructures



- The EPA assumes sequestering of CO2 by undisturbed, healthy forests at about 1.0 metric ton per acre per year, as a US average.

Disturbed, fragmented, less than healthy forests, as in most of New England, sequester much less than 1.0 metric ton of CO2 per acre per year, due to:


1) Acid rain and pollution from Midwest power plants, etc.,

2) Various encroachments, and

3) Colder climate and short growing season.


Yet the Vermont and Maine Environmental Departments claim 1.0 metric ton per acre per year!


Piling up the CO2 Year After Year


Re-growing trees would sequester the combustion CO2 of Year 1 of plant operation over about 80 to 100 years, in New England.


The CO2 of Years 2, 3, 4 to Year 40 would be added to the CO2 of Year 1, and be sequestered in a similar manner, except shifted forward by a year.


In Year 40, there would be 40 layers of CO2 and 40 forest areas in various stages of regrowth, as a result of cutting trees for burning.


Year 40 is assumed to be the last year of plant operation. It is likely that plant would be replaced to repeat the cycle.


During Year 41 through 80, there would be 41 to 80 layers of CO2 and 41 to 80 forest areas in various stages of regrowth, as a result of cutting trees for burning.


Closing Down Wood Burning Power Plants


It would be far better for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont to shut down wood burning power plants, as time is of the essence regarding “climate change”, according to some people. See table 5 and URL.


- In Vermont, utilities are forced to buy wood electricity at about 10 c/kWh, as part of the Vermont Standard Offer program, and as required by the Vermont Renewable Portfolio Standard program.


- In New Hampshire a law was passed in 2018 to subsidize money-loosing NH wood burning power plants. The plants need to be base-loaded to maximize production and need to sell at about 9 - 10 c/kWh to be viable. The subsidy would impose an extra cost on ratepayers of about $25 million/y. Implementing the law is held up in various court cases for environmental reasons.


- The wholesale prices of the NE grid averaged about 5 c/kWh since 2008, courtesy of abundant, domestic, near-zero-subsidized, clean-burning, low-CO2 gas at about 5 c/kWh, and near-zero-subsidized, near-zero-CO2 nuclear at 4.5 - 5 c/kWh.


Table 5/Fuel

 lb CO2/million Btu

 Plant efficiency, %

 lb CO2/MWh

CO2 Ratio

Wood chip; McNeal/Ryegate*





Wood chip; Denmark





Hard coal





No. 2 fuel oil





Natural gas, CCGT*






Plus upstream CO2 (logging, chipping, transport, etc.) of about 5 to 10%, if burning wood chips

Plus upstream CO2 (logging, chipping/pelletizing, transport, etc.) of about 10 to 15 %, if burning wood pellets

CCGT = Combined-cycle, gas turbine plant


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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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