Comment on “State’s Energy Future Needs a Fresh Look”


Editor’s note: This commentary is by Shanna Ratner, who has over 30 years of experience in rural community and economic development as the principal of Yellow Wood Associates. As an independent citizen, she has been one of the “green vesters” in Montpelier on several occasions, working to draw attention to the current administration’s energy policy.

What about a forward-looking inclusive approach to energy transformation in Vermont?The state of Vermont under Gov. Peter Shumlin has set a statewide “goal” of 90 percent renewable energy by 2050. This is not a goal; it’s an activity. There has been no effective statewide discussion and certainly no consensus reached on why we should be engaged in this activity, let alone how. What are the conditions we are trying to create?

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5 thoughts on “Comment on “State’s Energy Future Needs a Fresh Look””

  1. Blittersdorf wants a regressive carbon tax to enrich himself and his millionaire buddies.

    Here is my response:


    Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan has a goal of 90% RE of all of energy by 2050, not just electrical energy, which is about 35% of all energy. from mostly home-grown, renewables, to make Vermont “energy independent, fight global warming and climate change, do our part, be a leader”, etc. No nation in the world, except Denmark, has such an extremist goal.

    Recchia, head of the Department of Public Service, said it does not matter what Vermont does, because it would not make any difference regarding climate change and global warming. He is right. In 2015, world CO2 emissions were about 38,000 million metric ton, Vermont 8.37 million metric ton, which was offset by forest sequestration of 8.23 million metric ton. If Vermont were to disappear, it would make no difference at all. China and India burn about 60% of 8 BILLION metric ton of coal with inefficient plants without proper air pollution control systems; THAT is a real problem.

    The CEP, about 500-plus pages of mostly statements of good intentions, has many pretty pictures, but is missing of any serious analysis of pathways and year-by-year capital costs to achieve the goal, i.e., it is not worth the paper it is printed on. However, it serves as a handy foil and a club, used by legislators and RE special interests, to “hold the feet to the fire” of deluded, gullible, uninformed, misinformed Vermonters.

    The real aim of the CEP is to schlepp as much subsidies as possible into the state, so, in-state and out-of-state multi-millionaires, who often hide their identities behind innocent-sounding LLCs, can enjoy multiple, high-return, 20- to 25-year, risk-free RE tax shelters, while laughing all the way to the bank, because all is paid for, via ever-higher taxes, fees and surcharges, by already-struggling Vermont households and businesses, trying to make ends meet with stagnant real incomes in the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy.

    Even the most pedestrian politicians, habitually voting, like robots, the party line for RE subsidies, etc., of which they barely understand the implications, should eventually be able to figure out that obscene RE scenario, especially after repeatedly hearing about the hardships of already-struggling, bamboozled, Vermont voters, who’s “reward” is paying for it all.

    Legislators unwisely voted for the heavily subsidized SPEED program, with projects 2.2 MW or less, that produce energy at about 20 c/kWh, per DPS data!! Utilities are required to buy expensive, net-metered solar energy at 19 c/kWh, even though New England wholesale prices have averaged about 5 c/kWh for the past five years, due to an abundance of nearby, domestic, low-cost, low-CO2-emitting natural gas.

    UNILATERAL REGRESSIVE CARBON TAX: A number of Vermont House representatives co-sponsored a bill to enact a law to establish a regressive carbon tax on already-struggling households and businesses. To attract the votes of legislators, it has alluring platitudes about Vermont “returning” the carbon tax revenues in the form of tax credits, subsidies, rebates, grants, etc. However, the tax credits, etc., are purposely left vague and are circumscribed in ways so people and companies have no way of knowing who qualifies for what credit, and what they get back. The Vermont approach is complicated, leads to more bureaucracy and regulations; it is definitely not hands-off.

    The Vermont carbon tax is being pushed by renewable energy and non-energy special interests. It will further aggrandize Vermont’s government, which already is too large, spends too much money, is bloated with programs, and is running annual deficits, that are offset with annual increases of taxes, fees and surcharges, as if money grows on trees.

    Enacting the bill into law is high on the agenda of Vermont’s renewable energy special interests. The CEP to transform Vermont towards RE will require about $20 billion for the 2017 – 2050 period, and could not be implemented without a carbon tax of at least $500 million PER YEAR. After the bill is enacted, renewable energy and non-energy special interests, seeing this large source of funds, will pile on it to get as much of it as possible, as happened with the ARRA funds some years ago.

    Some renewable energy proponents have a fanciful notion of “Making Vermont Energy Independent”. Some legislators repeat it as part of their campaign renewable energy rhetoric and talking points. Either they do not know what that implies, or are engaged in another PR scam of the gullible public.

    For Vermont to be truly “energy independent”, it would have to disconnect from the New England electric grid, and produce ALL of its energy (not just electrical, which is only 35% of all energy) from IN-STATE energy sources, plus have enough energy storage capacity, in various forms (not just electrical), to ensure adequate energy supply to the Vermont economy, 24/7/365, year after year.

    The capital cost of such a statewide energy system would be enormous. The operating and maintenance cost of such a statewide energy system would be many multiples of the existing system; “Sayonara” to Vermont’s economy.

    I have listed below the likely areas of combat that special interests likely will be engaging in. Those areas are not mentioned in the proposed carbon tax bill, because that would reveal the hidden agendas of the special interests. Once the carbon tax act is safely in place, future acts likely would whittle away at the tax credits, etc., and provide even more bennies to special interests, in accordance with past, business-as-usual, Montpelier practices.

    NOTE: The whole world CO2 emissions were about 38,000 million metric ton in 2015; Vermont’s emissions were about 8.37 million metric ton. Vermont could disappear and it would make no difference. The carbon tax should be worldwide to be effective.

    For Vermont to unilaterally impose a carbon tax will make its economy less competitive versus other states, i.e., more brain drain and less GOOD job creation with GOOD benefits.

    Vermont’s inefficient, ponderous government will collect the carbon taxes and then “disburse” most of them in some form or other (paying lip service to “revenue neutral”) to politically favored causes. About 10% of the $500 million will be government overhead for doing the “disbursing”.

    As reported on VTDigger:

    – The proposed Vermont carbon tax would impose a $10 per ton tax of carbon emitted in 2017, increasing to $100 per ton in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would generate about $100 million in state revenue in 2019 and about $500 million in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would be added to the fuel prices at gas stations and fuel oil/propane dealers. Drivers can expect a tax increase of 9-cent per gallon of gasoline in 2017, increasing to about 89 cents in 2027.
    – Homeowners, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc., can expect a tax increase of 58-cent tax per gallon of propane and $1.02 per gallon of heating oil and diesel fuel in 2027.
    – A typical household (two wage earners, two cars, in a free-standing house) would pay additional taxes in 2027 of about:

    Driving = $0.89/gal x 2 x 12000 miles/y x 1/30 miles/gal = $712/y
    Heating = $1.02/gal x 800 gal/y = $816/y
    Total carbon tax in 2027 = $1528/y
    Sales tax reduction 5/6 x 1400 = $233/y
    Net tax increase = $1295/y

    – The hypocritical sop of reducing the sales tax from 6 to 5 percent would save that household about $233 in sales taxes, for a net loss of $1295 in 2027. That means such households, the backbone of the Vermont economy, would have about $1300/y less to make ends meet.
    – Many of these households have had stagnant or declining, spendable (after taxes, fees, surcharges, other recurring expenses, etc.) real incomes in a near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy since 2000.
    – After having less income, and higher prices, they also have to make their energy improvements. No wonder many young families are fleeing Vermont.

    The $500 million carbon tax, less $50 million for government overhead, less sales tax reductions*, would be “returned” by the state in a “revenue neutral manner”. If you believe that, I have a bridge….

    * Sales tax reduction:
    Fiscal year 2018, $31.5 million
    Fiscal year 2019, $48.6 million
    Fiscal year 2020, and after, $66.8 million

    Some of the REGRESSIVE carbon tax extortion would happen at the pump, some when the monthly fuel bills arrive, and some as higher prices of OTHER goods and services. But Vermont’s interventionist, State government wants to return most of the carbon tax money via inefficient, ponderous, government programs; “targeted” tax credits, subsidies, rebates, grants, weatherizing subsidies, etc. The list is long.

    The paperwork involved will hundreds of ADDITIONAL bureaucrats at state and local levels. The increased inefficiencies will act as additional headwinds against Vermont’s near-zero, real-growth economy. Attempts by RE proponents and their shills to justify such follies are like putting lipstick on a pig.

    Vermont’s state and local governments likely would hire hundreds of bureaucrats to “oversee the allocating” of the carbon taxes. About 10%, about $50 million, likely would disappear as government overhead to “oversee the allocating”.

    The state likely would allocate the money to various “worthy” programs and projects, as determined by legislators and special interests. The carbon tax would cause an orgy of feasting of unprecedented proportions, as it would be used to subsidize:

    – Building wind and solar systems on pristine, 2000 ft-high, ridge lines and fertile meadows, that produce variable, intermittent, grid-disturbing, weather-dependent energy, at 2 – 3 times wholesale prices (subsidized), and at 3-5 times wholesale prices (unsubsidized). The energy systems reduce property values, damages health, harms/kills nearby animals, and causes social unrest.
    – Weatherizing buildings of low-income households and providing them with heat pumps and solar systems; a boon for rental property owners, who should be require to do that without subsidies.
    – Electric vehicles, EVs. Not high-mileage hybrids, as that would “lock in fossil fuels”.
    – Building of EV charging stations everywhere.
    – Charging of electric vehicles with reduced-cost electricity. Usually, more upscale households own such vehicles.
    – Whatever other programs and projects legislators and RE special interests desire, such as individual rebate credits, low-income supplements, employment-based rebates, market-rate weatherization, low-income weatherization, solar tax credits, etc.
    – Businesses to offset any carbon taxes against any taxes on profits, thereby reducing their state profit taxes; that shortfall to made-up by others? This is primarily done to get businesses “on board” to support the carbon tax, i.e., by shifting most of the carbon tax burden to households, which would not be allowed such offsets.

    NOTE: Proponents of the carbon tax point to it being a success in British Columbia, Canada. BC’s levy started at $9 per metric ton in 2008, and gradually increased to $27 per metric ton in 2012, or about 23 c/gallon; MUCH LESS THAN VERMONT. Because, by law, the tax must be revenue-neutral, BC has returned 100% of the carbon tax in the form of REDUCTIONS of personal and corporate income tax RATES; a much more efficient way than Vermont’s cumbersome, inefficient, government-interventionist approach. BC now has the lowest personal income tax rate in Canada and one of the lowest corporate tax rates in North America. No fuss, no muss, no government aggrandizement and no complications. I am in favor of the BC carbon tax and its uses.

    NOTE: Vermont’s state government imposing a unilateral carbon tax would be economic suicide, as it would transfer up to $500 million per year, less sales tax reductions, into incompetent, inefficient government hands (EB-5, Health care website, Montpelier Heating Plant, etc. come to mind) for distribution by that government to “worthy” programs, as above described.

    Vermont’s state government would be imposing a carbon tax well in excess of what BC imposed. The state government would set up various departments with hundreds of bureaucrats for distributing the tax to “worthy” programs, after taking about a 10% percent cut for overseeing and managing the distribution of funds. This would further aggrandize the size and role of the state government in Vermont’s near-zero, real-growth economy.

    During the past six years the state government sector has grown at least 50% faster than the private sector, which is paying for the state government sector via ever-increasing, taxes, fees, and surcharges, as well as being imposed upon with various state mandates. No wonder the private sector has been so anemic and unable to create good paying jobs with good benefits, causing young families to move out of Vermont to seek a better future elsewhere.

    VERMONT’S ECONOMIC FUTURE: More and more Vermonters think they are being had by politicians, who are coddling multi-millionaires at the expense of the shrinking, over-stressed middle class. If times were good, people likely would not mind, but they have been burdened by real income stagnation, and income inequality, and insecurity in an age of technological change and global competition. They feel economically left behind, under threat of immigration and rapid social change, and short-changed by establishment politicians. Most parents expect their children to be worse off than themselves. The American Dream has turned into a forever, out-of-reach illusion, a mirage in the desert.

    Their real household incomes, after federal, state and local taxes, after rent, after healthcare, after other unavoidable expenses, have been steadily decreasing since about 2000, and especially since 2008, the reason households do not shop as much; do not go out to eat as much. Stores are desperately luring shoppers with discounts. State and local governments are not collecting enough taxes, without increasing rates, fees and surcharges, to keep the ever-growing, government establishments going.

    As a result, households have less spendable income, i.e., less money for living; for making general and efficiency improvements to the house; for entertainment and vacations; and for saving for retirement, etc. The carbon tax would further reduce household spendable income and standards of living.

    It is sheer robbery to have their hard-earned money distributed by politicians eager to do “constituent service” for politically favored RE special interests and for various socialistic do-gooders, which likely will be first in line to collect subsidies.

    RE interests are very much in favor of the carbon tax to further boost their RE businesses, already heavily subsidized by federal subsidies. RE interests constantly remind us they deserve the subsidies, because they “save the world; prevent climate change and global warming” and other such malarkey. The sanctimonious farce/hutzpah of it all is beyond words.

    BUILDING AND VEHICLE ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Vermont’s best approach is greatly increased, energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles, which are responsible for about 70% of Vermont’s CO2 emissions. Of course, that approach would not lead to the RE Holy Grail, i.e., maximizing the schlepping of RE subsidies into Vermont, but it would lead to lower energy bills for already-struggling Vermont households and businesses, trying to make ends meet in a near-zero-real-growth VT economy, while being taxed, feed and surcharged by a bloated, inefficient government sector, growing at the expense of the increasingly hollowed-out, shrinking private sector. Here are some obvious EE measures:

    Buildings: Almost all Vermont buildings are energy hogs. The heating, cooling and electrical requirements of buildings are a major percentage of Vermont’s energy consumption. At current electric rates of about 19 c/kWh (including taxes, fees and surcharges), it would be costly to provide that energy with electric heat pumps to energy-hog buildings. If much more expensive renewable energy would be used, it would be even more costly and calamitous for the competitiveness of Vermont’s economy.

    Vermont needs to implement a statewide, energy code for residential housing and other buildings that is ENFORCED (not suggested), and requires all NEW buildings to be “zero-net-energy” or “energy-surplus” buildings. The code would significantly reduce the primary energy for building heating, cooling and electricity. Such buildings would cost about 10% more, but would more than make up for it with their lifetime energy cost savings and CO2 emissions reduction.

    – Tens of thousands of such new buildings would be in existence by 2050.
    – Thousands of construction workers would learn new techniques useful to all buildings.
    – Annual building heating, cooling and electricity costs would be reduced by at least 50% to 70%.
    – Heat pump capacities and capital costs would be reduced by at least 50%.
    – RE system capacities and capital costs would be much reduced.
    – Grid expansion capital costs would be much reduced.
    – Energy storage capital costs would be much reduced.
    – Environmental impacts would be much reduced.

    Electricity Guzzler Tax: An effective way to reduce electricity consumption in buildings is an electricity-guzzler tax. For example, if electricity consumption, kWh/month, is 500 or less, no surcharge; if 501 to 600, a 5c/kWh surcharge; if 601 to 700, a 10c/kWh surcharge, etc. The tax would be paid as part of the monthly electric bill. Users would quickly reduce their consumption by means of more efficient appliances, LED lighting, solar PV panels, etc.

    Vehicle Gas Guzzler Tax: An effective way to reduce fuel consumption of vehicles is a gas-guzzler tax on light-duty vehicles (SUVs, cars, minivans, ¼-t trucks). For example, if EPA Combined MPG is 25 or greater, no tax; if 24, a $100 tax; if 23, a $200 tax, etc. The annual tax would be paid at time of registration. Owners would quickly acquire vehicles with higher mileages.

    SHIFT SUBSIDIES FROM RE TO EE: Doing energy efficiency first and renewables later is the most economical and rational way to go; especially important when funds are scarce. Governments providing huge subsidies for renewables BEFORE doing a great deal more in energy efficiency may be politically expedient, but it is costly and unwise, akin to putting the cart BEFORE the horse.

    It would be much wiser, and more economical, to shift subsidies away from expensive renewables, that produce just a little of expensive, variable, intermittent, weather-dependent energy, towards increased EE. Most of those renewables would not be needed, if the funds are used for increased EE. Doing unnecessary RE first and much-needed EE later is unwise, i.e., like pouring water into a leaking bucket.

    EE is the low-hanging fruit, has not scratched the surface, and is by far the best approach. All the technologies are fully developed. It provides the quickest and biggest “bang for the buck”, and it would:

    – Be invisible
    – Not make noise
    – Not destroy pristine ridgelines and fertile meadows
    – Reduce CO2, NOx, SOx and particulates more effectively than renewables
    – Not require expensive, highly visible grid build-outs.
    – Slow electric rate increases
    – Slow fuel cost increases
    – Not lower property values
    – Not harm people’s health
    – Slow depletion of fuel resources
    – Create 3 times the jobs and reduce 3-5 times the energy and CO2 per invested dollar than renewables
    – End the subsidizing of renewables tax-shelters benefitting mostly for the top 1% at the expense of the other 99%
    – Be more democratic/equitable
    – Do all this without public resistance, controversy and social unrest.

  2. Blittersdorf:

    “Bill Christian, you are 100% correct on the need for a carbon pollution tax. I read Ms. Ratner’s comment on VT energy and wanted to poke my eyes out too. What an insane view of our energy and environmental problems and the methods to solve it. I am an engineer and solve problems too. I have worked hard (and spent real money) over the last 4 years to get a price on carbon. It’s not for money in my pocket but for saving ourselves from ourselves. Stop listening to the NO-NO anti’s. WE ARE OUT OF TIME!”

    Here is why Blittersdorf and Warren Buffett are in the wind turbine game.


    Georgia Mountain cap cost was $28 million for 10 MW; federal and state CASH GRANTS were about 40% ($11.2 million).

    All can be written off in about 6 years, courtesy of an “accelerated depreciation” law for wind turbines.

    BED bought 33,145,000 kWh @ 10 c/kWh from Blittersdorf in 2015

    BED sells the RECs out of state to reduce its cost to about 5 c/kWh.

    Blittersdorf likely did not pay federal and state income taxes on his Georgia IWT plant, because he offsets revenues with write-offs and other costs.

    He can afford to make “campaign contributions” to his favorite legislators, buy himself a compliant governor, and finance VPIRG, Wind Works VT, etc.

    No wonder, wind turbines are so popular with multi-millionaires, the beneficiaries of huge tax shelter, courtesy of Wall Street and a compliant Congress.

    Paid lobbyists/lackeys claim it is all about “saving the world”.

    I have a bridge…….


    It’s not the demand for more electricity that’s driving construction, but rather the government’s preferential tax treatment and counterintuitive energy mandates. Warren Buffett has admitted as much.

    In 2014 he explained: “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. We get a tax credit, if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

  3. The Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP): The CEP aims to have 90% RE of ALL energy by 2050, not just electrical energy, which is only 35% of all energy. The plan includes proposals for increased logging of wood-for-fuel. See table.

    Wood-for-fuel increase ton/y
    Electrical 300,000
    Combined heat power, CHP 400,000
    Space heating 900,000
    Total 1,600,000

    The wood-for-fuel logging increase would be 1,600,000/1,216,167 (in 2014) = 132%, mostly from in-state forests. Add to that the clearing for logging access roads and for installing and maintaining 500-ft-tall industrial wind turbine power plants and those forests, fragmented by hundreds of fully and partially clear-cut areas over many years, would look much differently from today, and would become even more dysfunctional as ecosystems.

    The wood-for-fuel would immediately add to the atmosphere 1,616,000 ton of CO2/y, due to burning, plus prevent the forest, which is in “infant to prime of life” stage, from absorbing CO2, if it were left alone to grow new biomass, instead of being developed as a “working landscape” or worse.

    Increased logging likely would cause decreased overall growth and CO2 sequestration, causing the double whammy of increased CO2 stack emissions and decreased forest CO2 sequestration. Our locust-type lifestyles damage ecosystems; soon about 10 billion people will be “participating”.

    Wood for Fuel For CEP 2050 Goal: If Vermont’s loggable area were sustainably harvested, the potential annual harvest would be 3,051,562 acre x 1.25 ton/acre/y = 3,814,453 ton/y. The harvest was 1,203,241 ton of high-value wood and 1,216,167 ton of low-value wood (for burning), for a total of 2,419,408 ton, in 2014, about 63% of potential. The potential wood-for-fuel would be 1,216,167/0.63 = 1,917,416 ton/y, for a 701,249 ton/y increase over 2014.

    However, the CEP goal is a wood-for fuel increase of 1,600,000 ton/y by 2050, i.e., an additional 898,751 ton/y would need to be from out-of-state areas, if sustainable harvesting were to be observed in Vermont.

  4. Vermont Utilities “Making Room” For Renewable Energy

    The below table shows utilities decreased their purchases by 2,256,205 MWh/y of low-cost, near-CO2-free, steady, high quality, dispatchable energy, due to:

    – The VY supply being replaced by a lesser Seabrook supply
    – The H-Q supply being reduced under a new PPA starting in 2017

    The total decrease is 37% of 2011 utility purchases, per pages E-6, 7, and 8 of Utility Facts. See below table.

    Utility Purchases MWh
    All utilities in 2011 6111900
    VY in 2011 2167097
    Seabrook 526000
    Nuclear decrease 1641097
    H-Q in 2011 1865108
    H-Q in 2017* 1250000
    Hydro decrease 615108
    Total decrease 2256205

    * GMP’s portion is about 1,000,000 MWh

    Filling the “Room” with Other Energy Sources

    The GMP Integrated Source Plan aims to transition away from a few large PPAs towards smaller, more diverse, distributed energy sources; an “all of the above” approach favored by RE proponents. In practice, that means the above 2,256,205 MWh will be replaced with mostly in-state and out-of-state, wind and solar energy, as it becomes available, during the 2016 – 2050 period. In the meantime, GMP, et al., plan to buy energy at NE wholesale prices, and under small, shorter-term PPAs from diverse, distributed sources to fill the any energy shortages. The replacement wind and solar energy would be:

    – Non-dispatchable, and
    – Variable, intermittent, i.e., low-quality, grid disturbing, with
    – Solar providing zero synchronous rotational inertia to help stabilize the grid, and
    – Wind providing asynchronous, variable, rotational inertia, which could adversely affect grid stability, and all that at
    – High-cost, 2 – 5 times NE wholesale prices, which have averaged about 5 c/kWh for the past 5 years, due to the NE grid having energy from low-cost nuclear (about 25%) and low-cost natural gas (about 50%).

    VT utilities projected purchases will be about 9,066,279 MWh/y by 2050.
    The “room” for other energy sources (9.07, projected load, less 2.90, existing PPAs, page E-7 of Utility Facts) is 6.17 million MWh/y.

    – Filling the “room” with 90% RE, mostly wind and solar energy, would significantly increase electric rates, and also would increase the cost of operating EVs and heat pumps.
    – However, most of that cost increase could be avoided by having a greater supply of low-cost, hydro energy from H-Q. See next section.

    GMP Refusing to Buy Additional Hydro Energy From Hydro-Quebec

    According to Donald Jessome, CEO and president of TDI New England, 200 megawatt of the recently approved, 1000-megawatt, high-voltage DC line, owned by the Blackstone group, is reserved for Vermont. Vermont has the option to purchase up to 200 MW, but Jessome said he doesn’t expect the state to take advantage of that option.

    From GMP’s viewpoint, it is understandable not to go with the 200 MW, because it does very little for GMP’s asset base, on which GMP earns about 9%/y. That means, the Vermont economy, and already-struggling households and businesses, have to do additional suffering, because GMP, for business reasons, prefers more expensive wind and solar energy, and “islanding” and “micro-grids”.

    Having more, low-cost*, steady, not variable, not intermittent, near-CO2-free, hydro energy from Hydro-Quebec would be the best way to get ALL the sectors of Vermont’s economy moving again, not just the subsidy-favored RE sector.

    * About 6-7 cents/kWh, plus 1.0 c/kWh for transmission, adjusted based on NE wholesale prices, which have been about 5 c/kWh for the past 5 years

    The HVDC line likely will be operational about 2018 – 2019. The line will run from Canada to a new DC to AC converter station near Ludlow, VT., and feed into an area of the grid that used to be fed by Vermont Yankee.

    The 200 MW could provide at least 1.3 million MWh/y of low-cost, steady, dispatchable hydro energy. This would be in addition to the existing Hydro-Quebec power purchase agreement, PPA, of about 1.25 million MWh/y, for a total of 2.55 million MWh/y, or about 28% of GMP-projected utility supply of about 9.07 million MWh/y. With additional, privately owned, HVDC lines, the 28% could be increased to at least 40%.

    That hydro energy is steady (unlike wind and solar), and is renewable, with near-zero CO2 emissions (less than wind and solar), and low-cost (less than wind and solar). It would help achieve Vermont’s 90% goal.

    That energy would be available much sooner, and at near-zero subsidies, near-zero capital cost, zero environmental damage to ridgelines and meadows, and zero social unrest, than an equivalent capacity of wind and solar systems, which would produce high-cost (two to five times New England wholesale prices), unsteady, variable, intermittent, potentially grid-disturbing energy. The world would be “saved” much sooner, and at a lower cost!

    However, under GMP’s RE mantra of “transitioning away from a few large power purchase agreements towards smaller and more diverse sources”, it appears GMP has no intention to significantly increase its purchases of H-Q energy. Hydro renewable energy credits, RECs, being less valuable than solar and wind RECs may have something to do with it.

    The Public Service Board should demand GMP buy additional H-Q hydro energy, instead of swallowing GMP’s Integrated Source Plan, which has wording in many paragraphs that, in a carefully nuanced manner, echo much of the words and mantras of RE proponents.

  5. This commentary has generated a lot of comments on One of the funniest ones is from Bill Christian of Bennington, who admits he uses oil which he buys from MA and then in a second post about his “solutions” he says that people should burn wood or use heat pumps. I wonder if he realizes he is being hypocritical. And then the genius David Blittersdorf weighs in and totally supports what Bill Christian says, while trashing this very reasonable commentary by an expert in rural economics.

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