Saturday, July 25, 2015

Vermont Dying to be Green

Vermont Struggles With Renewables
Along with the shuttering of the state’s largest generating station came dreams of windmills, solar collectors, and other “clean and green” options that would soon be taking its place. Like many other states and nations, Like many other states and nations, Vermont has assumed that passing laws mandating renewable energy quotas will solve the problem. The state has set a goal for itself of 55 percent renewables by 2017, 75 percent by 2032 and 90 percent by 2050. The figure now is 17 percent.

But like most other players, the Green Mountain State is finding that those goals must be tempered and sometimes outright abandoned. To date the most widespread initiative for switching to renewable energy has been importing hydropower from Quebec. The Canadians are proposing two cables that will run beneath Lake Champlain, one to southern New England and the other to New York City. Burlington and other Vermont cities would probably feed off of this.
. . .
Other attempts to go green have met with indifferent success. Several proposals to put windmills atop the Green Mountains – the obvious place for them – have been shouted down or stalled by local objections. An early attempt to put a new wood-burning plant right across the Massachusetts border was also quickly defeated – it would create air pollution. The project was also dampened by a Massachusetts study which concluded that burning trees for energy would soon exhaust the state’s forest resources.
. . .
Ironically, while some environmentalists have been developing small dams, others have been campaigning to tear down small dams around the state. The Newport 11 dam was recently removed from the Clyde River and other small dams are under fire. The strategy resembles one pursued for years by the Sierra Club, which favors small dams globally but campaigns to tear them down locally. Warshow developed three other small dams around the state.

As for wind power, the BED states as follows: “A small wind turbine is located at the Pine Street offices of BED and serves as a demonstration project designed to determine how much electricity can be generated from the Wind at the lake-front site.” BED does contract for wind electricity generated in other parts of the country. Finally, the BED admits employing “gas turbines [of] up to 25 MW, primarily used as a peaking unit and in emergencies.” The progress of solar energy has been slow. Burlington put solar collectors on the roof of is airport terminal and Rutland has built a 2 MW solar farm on an abandoned landfill.
Vermont is small enough that "Not In My BackYard" translates to "Not In My State." Which is OK, I guess if you produce enough goods and services for other people willing to tolerate the aesthetic and moral assaults of producing power. But if your economy is dependent on tourism, cutting down the forests periodically  to run the boilers hardly seems a winning strategy.

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