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VEC considers big wind moratorium

ORLEANS COUNTY – Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) is considering a moratorium on industrial wind projects.

Dave Hallquist, the CEO of VEC, said in an interview Thursday that if the board of directors decides on the moratorium, it should include solar as well to prevent driving up the cost on energy.

Hallquist said it troubles him that wind projects are tearing communities apart. “I hate to see this level of angst.”

He said both supporters and opponents have strong arguments. Even though the majority of VEC members support wind, he said, he wants to consider what other members think as well.

VEC has already met its 2017 portfolio requirement of renewables, as required by the state, by purchasing power from the Sheffield and Lowell wind projects. Hallquist reiterated that the co-op supports Kingdom Community Wind in Lowell and partnered with Green Mountain Power (GMP) on the project.

Hallquist said that to meet the goal of lower carbon emissions, the discussion needs to shift away from power generation. He points out that only about four percent of carbon emissions in Vermont are caused by electrical generation, with the vast majority coming from transportation and heating and cooling. Hallquist said he would support geothermal for electricity and plugin hybrids.

State regulators are now considering whether Vermont utilities should be allowed to sell renewables energy credits (RECS). If the practice discontinues, it will drive the cost of renewables up higher. Sheffield wind sells RECS and GMP, owner of the Lowell Project, plans to sell them as well. RECS coupled with Federal Production Tax Credits have kept the price of wind power low.

The federal tax credits designed to support renewable projects are slated to expire at the end of this year.

There are no specifics on the possible moratorium VEC is considering. A discussion and possible resolution are scheduled for the board’s next meeting on Dec. 27 in Johnson. The discussion on the moratorium is slated for 12:30 -1:30 PM. A discussion on the noise from Kingdom Community Wind is scheduled for 3:15-4:15 PM. A full agenda is available on VEC’s website at www.vermontelectric.coop/.