Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Wind Moratorium Press Conference Tomorrow in Montpelier

Never a dull moment here in Vermont.  Tomorrow in Montpelier: a press conference on a proposed moratorium for industrial wind.

Cedar Creek Room at State House
Oil Painting of Battle of Cedar Creek
Wind, the Press Conference 

Two Vermont Senators are co-sponsoring a bill calling for a moratorium on Industrial Wind in Vermont.  There may be other co-sponsors also.  Senator Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) and Robert Hartwell (D-Bennington) will introduce the bill at a press conference tomorrow, Thursday, at 2 p.m. in the Cedar Creek Room at the State House in Montpelier.

 If you look at the Senate District map of Vermont, you will see that the Caledonia district is in the northern part of Vermont, on the eastern side of the state, while the Bennington district is in the southern part of the Vermont, on the western side of the state.

In other words, this is more than a bi-partisan press conference. It's practically an all-Vermont press conference. According to a Times Argus article. Vermont Senate President Campbell says there may be 18 votes for the moratorium,  which would be a majority in the 30-person Vermont Senate.  However, the Vermont House is less likely to pass a moratorium. Governor Shumlin's administration is solidly against it.

If you want to learn more about wind in Vermont, it would be fun to attend the press conference.  Here's the official press release about the conference.

Wind, the Reactions

David Hallquist, CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC),  is not happy with ever-expanding renewable mandates. He was quoted by WCAXVEC CEO Dave Hallquist says the utility is concerned about finding balance between rising electric rates and the adoption of a greener power portfolio.

"I don't think we've really thought this out entirely. We're kind of looking at this through different perspectives. Our perspective as the boots on the ground utility that has to carry it out says we don't know how it can work even from a physics standpoint," Hallquist said.

The VEC Board of Directors has sent a request to the Vermont legislature, requesting that the legislature not continually increase the requirements for renewables. Vermont Digger's Anne Galloway wrote Vermont Electric Co-op directors ask law-makers to put a hold on new renewable energy mandates.  Her article includes the text of the Board of Directors request to the Legislature.  The director's request for no-new-mandates is not the same as the new-wind-moratorium that the senators propose.  But the director's request is surely in the same direction. The last paragraph of their request states:

The VEC Board of Directors recommends that the Vermont Legislature impose a moratorium for a period of two years effective on January 1, 2013, on further renewable power supply mandates or sooner if the grid instability, human health impacts, and cost issues have been addressed and a transition plan is in place that considers the cost and reliability impacts of moving to higher levels of renewable resources. 

A quote from CEO Hallquist in the same article: “We observed the wind issue splitting our community....We asked ourselves, why are we doing this when it represents only 4 percent of our carbon footprint?”

Specific Wind: Facts and Quotes

The Georgia Mountain Wind Turbines were connected to the grid by December 31, enabling them to receive a 30% federal tax rebate on the project.

In Windham County, home of Vermont Yankee, the Town of Windham has been fighting against wind development. Residents were hopeful when the Vermont Department of Public Service backed the Town of Windham's fight.  However, the Public Service Board (PSB) has overruled the local citizens, at least for now.  In an article in the Bennington Banner (Windham) Selectboard Chairwoman Mary Boyer also said the permitting process has been a valuable experience.

"Although we were hoping that the PSB would support our right to determine our own land use as the governor has suggested, that is not to be at this time," Boyer said in a statement sent to the Reformer.

Rep Tony Klein
In contrast, Tony Klein of the Vermont legislature is all in favor of wind energy. In WCAX's article on the wind moratorium, Klein, chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy committee, was quoted as follows: "I think it's (a wind moratorium) about the most anti-business statement the Legislature could make," said Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier.

The Press Conference

Stop in at the Cedar Creek Room tomorrow afternoon, if you can make it, and attend the press conference.  It should be an interesting afternoon.

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