Sunday, January 17, 2016

The New New New! Vermont Energy Plan

The grid is all about gas

The last two posts at this blog (here and here) showed that Vermont Yankee electricity on the grid has been replaced, kWh for kWh, by power electricity produced by gas-fired plants.  Two comments (that I published) asked about the growing use of renewables. Two other comments (that I did not publish) asked the same thing, but in a truculent and accusatory tone.

So. What about renewables? Vermont has a plan.

Comes the Revolution!

Here's the answer about renewables.  Vermont has a new improved energy plan for the future!  We are going to cut our energy use by 1/3 by 2050, and use renewables for 90% of our remaining energy needs.  Here are two graphs (for the years 2015 and 2050) which I have abstracted from the executive summary of the plan.

 2015 energy use

2050 energy use
Look how much less energy we will use!  Look at how much less waste there will be!  And fossil fuels will be almost completely eliminated!

You can double-click to see larger versions of the charts, and you can read the ten page summary. For this blog post,  I simply took screen shots of the charts, but you can find numbers in the summary document, or in the complete plan document, which is over 400 pages long.

My Russian grandmother had a rather cynical saying: "Sure, comes the revolution..."  I guess she heard that phrase once too often, growing up in Czarist Russia.

Comes the Revolution, indeed.

What's new this time? Less energy.

Still, the new part of the plan is clear:  we are not only switching to renewables, we will use significantly less energy in the future.  The earlier plan was about switching to 90% renewables: this plan is also about lowering energy use to use only 2/3 of the energy that we use now.  On page 2 of the Executive Summary (which is the first real page of the plan) we read:

 Expanding upon the statutory goal of 25% renewable by 2025 (10 V.S.A. § 580(a)), this CEP establishes the following set of goals:
• Reduce total energy consumption per capita by 15% by 2025, and by more than one third by 2050.
• Meet 25% of the remaining energy need from renewable sources by 2025, 40% by 2035, and 90% by 2050.
• Three end-use sector goals for 2025: 10% renewable transportation, 30% renewable buildings, and 67% renewable electric power.

(Bold type is in the original.)

More news: lip service to the environment

The other new thing is a certain level of lip service to the environment, including some realization that there are conflicting goals on land use, and that our ridge lines are part of our ecosystem and landscape.  The article about the plan in Vermont Business Magazine quotes extensively from these pages among the 400 pages of the plan document. The quotes are from Chapter 5 on land use planning, a chapter that is about six pages long (page 58 to 63). The chapter includes references to Vermont's land use laws (for most of the chapter).  It acknowledges competing land uses in paragraphs such as this:

As we move toward generating more of our energy renewably and closer to home, it’s no surprise that tensions between competing land uses will arise. For one thing, the power density — the amount of energy per given unit of volume, area, or mass — of existing renewables is orders of magnitude less than it is for fossil fuels. As a result, renewables require much more space on the landscape than do traditional, centralized generators....

Our hilltops and mountaintops allow access to the strong, steady winds necessary for the scale of wind energy production that can make a significant contribution to our energy supply. Those same peaks capture rainfall and store snowpack that feeds our headwaters, which descend into the rivers that nurture fish and plants. Mountain ridgelines and peaks tend to sit in the center of our most significant blocks of wildlife habitat; .....

 However, the report certainly stops short of promising to protect these ridges. Instead, chapter five ends with a ringing endorsement of planning. Some quotes:
1. Energy and non energy land use planning should be integrated as much as possible at the local, regional, and state levels.
2. Energy (30 V.S.A. 248) and non energy (Act 250) land use regulatory processes should be complement each other to the extent practicable.

Comes the Revolution! Redux

In other words, we can hope that the bureaucrats will successfully plan our future land use in Vermont. They will apply themselves to this job, despite the welter of competing interests and confusing laws.  The bureaucrats will certainly be busy.

As everybody who studied Russian history may note: Came the Revolution, that is exactly what happened.


End note: My tax money paid for writing this elaborate state plan, but nobody is paying me to read it.  So I won't.  I read the earlier version, a few years ago. Also, the state set up a way to comment on the plan which was basically impossible to use. (Here's my blog post on the near-impossibility of commenting.)  I have put in my time on this plan, in all honesty.

And as George said to me: "Comes the Revolution, Meredith, you will be surely be one of the first to be executed."  (Not that it will come to that. He was just kidding.)

1 comment:

Travelogue for the Universe said...

So this is how the PSB can justify the Addison County Proposed pipeline? Even with Millions being paid for by the ratepayers. Thanks, but after reading the summary better lie down, I'm dizzy! Have a great week! Mary