I recently attended the 2022 Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) Conference. The conference is put on annually by the renewable energy industry trade group. It brings together a variety of people who wish to promote renewable energy development in Vermont: those who profit from renewables, those who see renewables as a solution to environmental problems, and those who see renewables as an important sector for economic development.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was presented as a major win for the renewable energy sector. A flood of tax incentives may bring more hungry out-of-state developers to Vermont. One speaker described the bill’s $270 billion funding for clean energy tax incentives as “a bundle of carrots” waiting for developers to gobble up.
One point of concern was the panel discussion entitled “Bringing Back Wind to Vermont.” The panel was moderated by Vero Bourg-Meyer of Clean Energy States Alliance. It included a collection of individuals who desire to see more big wind in Vermont, including Ryan Darlow of Norwich Solar, Eddie Duncan of RSG, and Nick Laskovski of Greenbacker Renewable Energy.
The panel was opened by acknowledging that big wind in Vermont was controversial but largely attempted to lay out its need and the roadmap to building more of it in Vermont. Some specific topics and quotes:
It was clear that developers want to bring Big Wind back to Vermont with much larger turbines than in the past. Energize Vermont is one of the few statewide groups that push back against these developments because of their devastating environmental impact, their effect on neighbors, and because they just don’t make sense from an energy standpoint.
I would like to have heard something about the renewables under development at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory–promising technologies like geothermally generated electricity and hydrogen production using biological or photoelectrochemical means. These technologies have the potential to provide baseload power without tearing up our mountains, destroying wildlife habitats, and contributing to the collapse in biodiversity.
And it would have been nice to hear something about developments in nuclear fusion–the carbon-free technology that produces no radioactive waste. Recent breakthroughs have attracted billions of investor dollars to companies that now envision bringing fusion power plants to the market by the 2030s.
I was encouraged by some of the discussions about Vermont-scale renewable energy solutions and innovative technology solutions, like:
While we all know there are no perfect solutions to our energy future, we must make sensible decisions protecting our unique and important natural resources and communities. I am excited for Energize Vermont to be the organization that facilitates discussions on the hard issues and raises the voices of Vermonters likely to be impacted by inappropriate energy development. We know that strong communities and biodiversity are our most important assets in fighting climate change, and we aren’t willing to let large corporations make decisions for us.