Planning Vermont's Energy Future
11/06/07 2:33PM By Jane Lindholm
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Last weekend 200 randomly-selected Vermonters hunkered down with experts and state officials to discuss where they think Vermont’s power should come from in the coming decade. But as the state considers what to do as contracts with Vermont’s two main power suppliers near expiration, some are wondering how much will grass-roots opinion really counts. We’ll get a preview of ideas that emerged from the workshop and ask what’s next. Our guests are Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien and Rep. Robert Dostis, chairs the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
Also on the program, the challenges Vermont meat producers face getting their product to market. During this season of sending animals to slaughter, we talk about a lack of slaughterhouses in the state and region. And commentator Deborah Luskin pays homage to hunters - rifle deer season starts this weekend.
Your comments on Vermont's Energy Future
These are some of the comments you emailed to us during our discussion of Vermont's future energy portfolio.
I was a random participant at the workshop and came away with hope that Vermont will come up with a comprehensive energy program based on renewable energy with emphasis on energy efficiency as one component. It was clear that there was almost universal opposition to re-licensing Vermont Yankee, particularly when the experts said that the 33 percent that Vermont Yankee currently supplies could be found from alternate less dangerous sources.
The DPS wants no threat to their intended re-licensing Vermont Yankee. Demographic polling included the participant's political affiliation - irresponsible and inexcusable. This question is an extreme appearance of impropriety on the part of the DPS. Please ask Commissioner O'Brien why on earth he thinks we should find this practice acceptable. This is partisan politics!
Large scale industrial power plants have no place on Vermont's ridgelines. It's interesting that no one has mentioned the word "conservation." Let's hear from people other than those heavily invested in giant corporate industrial wind power.
As a participant, I have nothing but positive things to say for the event. The moderation was fantastic; our mediator in our small group gave no clue as to his personal views, but made sure that everyone had a voice in an accepting and open environment. The large groups/panels were diverse and very informative and frank.
Despite the array of differences in both large and small groups, there appeared to be a consensus for non-fossil, renewable fuels and a greater acknowledgement and acceptance for our responsibility as consumers and the necessary investment in greater energy self-sufficiency and cleaner, renewable energy.
If appropriate to this discussion, would you ask your guest why commercial wind power is being considered since we know that: 1) In Vermont wind power will not displace CO2 so it does not address global warming. It will displace hydro power, another clean source, according to Rob Ide of the PSB. 2) Wind power will not replace any other base load plant in the state. What roll will such variable and intermittent energy sources play in Vermont, realistically?
If variable and intermittent electricity sources are developed in Vermont, wouldn't it follow that they must be backed up by gas or oil-fired "peaking" units because these have the ramp up speed to actually blend with the variable source's power to feed the grid?
The state has a moratorium on funding building projects in schools. Can the moratorium be ended for projects that improve energy efficiency in schools? Are there any programs available for funding and studying solar power use in public buildings? Does Biomass create carbon emissions?
Tim from Bennington:
Most people agree that wind power should be part of the mix of energy sources for Vermont in the future. Yet the Sheffield wind project, which gained state approval, is now being challenged by a group that seems to oppose wind power. What is this group, and why do they oppose wind power? Are they Vermont residents or second home owners? Do all of our ridgelines need to be pristine?