Comment on “America’s First All-Renewable-Energy City”

Burlington’s decades-long commitment to sustainability has paid off with cheap electricity—and some pretty great homegrown food.

November 17, 2016

To understand what makes Burlington unlike almost any other city in America when it comes to the power it consumes, it helps to look inside the train that rolls into town every day. The 24 freight cars that pull up to the city’s power plant aren’t packed with Appalachian coal or Canadian fuel oil but wood. Each day 1,800 tons of pine and timber slash, sustainably harvested within a 60-mile radius and ground into wood chips, is fed into the roaring furnaces of the McNeil Generating Station, pumping out nearly half of the city’s electricity needs.

Much of the rest of what Burlington’s 42,000 citizens need to keep the lights on comes from a combination of hydroelectric power drawn from a plant it built a half mile up the Winooski River, four wind turbines on nearby Georgia Mountain and a massive array of solar panels at the airport. Together these sources helped secure Burlington the distinction of being the country’s first city that draws 100 percent of its power from renewable sources. The net energy costs are cheap enough that the city has not had to raise electric rates for its customers in eight years. And Burlington is not done in its quest for energy conservation. Add in the city’s plan for an expansive bike path, a growing network of electric vehicle charging stations and an ambitious plan to pipe the McNeil station’s waste heat to warm downtown buildings and City Hall’s goal to be a net zero consumer of energy within 10 years starts looking achievable…….

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One thought on “Comment on “America’s First All-Renewable-Energy City””

  1. What a colossal “green” energy charade it all is!

    According to the EPA, McNeil tree-fueled biomass in Burlington emits 473,000 tons of CO2 annually, at a rate 50% higher per energy produced than a coal plant, but delusional Burlington succumbs to their own feel-good “carbon neutral” greenwashing and ignores these emissions.

    Burning trees is NOT, NOT, NOT “carbon neutral”, it is worse than coal. It is hard for believers to give up the truth fairy, but the evidence is overwhelming. (This is NOT an endorsement of coal, but used to show how bad biomass really is)

    If Vermont is sincere about reducing its carbon footprint, McNeil and Ryegate biomass facilities must close. Combined they only provide about 5% of Vermont’s electric which can easily be replaced with increased efficiency, more Quebec hydro and/or solar.

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