August 25, 2011

Solar advocates take on wind power in Vermont

Keith McGilvery - WCAX News, 24 August 2011

Protestors and puppets filled the lawn of Green Mountain Power in Colchester at a rally in opposition to wind turbines in Vermont.

“We can’t allow the destruction of our ridgeline for utility scale wind and Green Mountain Power,” said Lukas Snelling of Energize Vermont.

The event Wednesday was organized by Energize Vermont. The group is backing solar power over wind to boost alternative energy across the state. It’s specifically speaking out against turbines being planned for the ridgeline in Lowell.

“We will not support this project. We don’t want this project and incorporating this project into our energy future is wrong and a mistake,” Snelling said.

Green Mountain Power says it supports solar power initiatives, but argues it’s important to have wind in the mix.

“Just as in a financial portfolio, you want diversity in a portfolio of energy resources, you want a diversity of different kind of mixes, you don’t want to have all your power coming from one power plant,” said Dorothy Schnure of GMP.

While GMP and protestors debate the appropriateness of wind and solar power in Vermont, the state’s former chief technology officer, Tom Evslin, says both options have problems.

“That’s nonsense, the wind isn’t very effective and you can very well argue that it is not helpful to our portfolio, but solar is even less effective and it requires huge subsidies,” Evslin said.

Evslin says solar power costs about 80 cents a kilowatt hour compared to about 6 cents for hydro or nuclear power. He says wind power is expensive as well.

“I don’t think we close down Yankee,” Evslin said. “I think we contract for more power from Hydro-Quebec and other hydro sources which obviously is renewable energy.”

GMP says plans are moving forward in Lowell but Energize Vermont says it’s not backing down.

“This demonstration and this effort is only growing and will not end,” Snelling said.

GMP says it is awaiting final approval for the Lowell project from the Public Service Board before it can begin construction.

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