Monday, January 20, 2014

My Comment on the Vermont Total Energy Study

You Can Comment on the Total Energy Study

Comment Period Closing On Wednesday January 22

The Vermont Department of Public Service has written a new planning document for Vermont's future energy use: The Total Energy Study Legislative Report.  You can link to the report and its back-up documentation on the Total Energy Study web page of the Department of Public Service.   You can also link directly to the report and appendixes.

The public comment period on this study is only open through Wednesday, January 22, 2014.  To write a comment,  use this email address:

I encourage you to comment.

My Comment to the Department of Public Service on the Total Energy Study

Dear DPS

First, a thank-you to Asa Hopkins for sending me information about the RFP for the total energy study.

Second, a comment on the study.  It's a document about setting policy, and most of the policies seem to be financial. There are requirements to use renewable fuels, with financial burdens imposed if you don't (TREES), carbon taxes, etc. 

With this study, the stick is in place to drive the state energy use to 90% renewables, but...where's the road?  We're whipping the horse, but where is the horse heading?  What will 90% renewables look like for the whole economy?  More wind turbines?  Only biodiesel and ethanol fuel sold in Vermont?  A law against private vehicles unless they are electric?  What is the goal here?

In my opinion, by not analyzing actual technologies and how they will be employed, the study is basically a cop-out. I am sorry to say this, because I was hoping for something better in terms of Vermont's future energy use.  Time, energy and intelligence went into this study. In some ways, the study is quite admirable.  It is, however, the wrong study for setting goals for our energy future.

Meredith Angwin

Background on the Total Energy Study

Basically, the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan was put into place in 2011.  This plan mandates  90% of all of Vermont's energy will come from renewables in 2050. Despite its title, however, the Comprehensive Plan does not contain an actual plan for achieving this goal.  (I wrote about this disconnect in an earlier blog post and op-ed.)

By legislative requirement, the Department of Public Service is putting together a Total Energy Study on how to move toward the goal.  To date, in my opinion, the Total Energy Study has focused mostly on financial policy incentives (carbon taxes, fuel switching with targets for renewable content of fuels, cap and trade schemes).  There's also some discussion of methodologies for evaluating technology choices.  

Please comment, I think

So, here I am, urging my readers to comment on the study, but frankly, it is difficult to comment on it.  The people at the Department of Public Service have worked hard on the Total Energy Study, but it is not easy to get a handle on the study or recommendations.  To me, reading the study didn't feel like reading an energy article ("how many wind turbines might be built under this scenario?") but instead, it felt like reading something in a political science course.  

Finally, I realized that: my confusion was actually my comment!  So I commented as above.

I urge you to read the study (or at least the executive summary) and write your own comment.


Mary Gerdt said...

Thanks Meredith,it is hard to stay on top of all this! No more ethanol please. Our power tools and tractor and Camry sputter.

Mitch said...

When are land use and naturalists and tourist industry going to speak up too? Mowing down mountains and countryside for windmills and glass fields don't do a scenic state much good!