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A dubious sort of leadership

This is in response to the July 5 letter from Curt Peterson, which faulted Meredith Angwin for not adequately accounting for how energy use patterns will change in the future in her critical op-ed about the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan.

The goal of Vermont’s 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan is to have 90 percent of all Vermont energy (not just electrical energy) come from renewables. Even Germany does not have such an extreme goal. To meet that goal, Vermont would use much more electrical energy for electrical and thermal purposes, such as geothermal heat pump systems, plug-in electric cars, space heating, etc. Vermont’s consumption of propane, fuel oil, natural gas, gasoline, diesel, etc., would decrease.

Energy-systems engineers calculated Vermont’s electrical energy would have to increase annually from about 6,000 gigawatt hours to between 15,000 and 18,000 by 2050. That projection accounts for significant energy efficiency efforts.

In defending Vermont’s adoption of the energy plan, Peterson commends Vermont’s leadership on energy policy as “insightful.” To assess that opinion, I offer two examples of what has resulted from the state’s leadership.

Under Vermont’s SPEED program, it will be paying the following prices to generating projects of less than 2.2 megawatts:

∎ 2010, for six months: 13.87 cents per kilowatt hour.

∎ 2011: 16.44 cents/kwh.

∎ 2012: 17.16 cents/kwh.

∎ 2013, for five months: 18.53 cents/kwh.

Note the rising trend. By 2017, due to this SPEED program, a cumulative amount that exceeds $131 million will be rolled into electric rates of already-struggling households and businesses.

The second example is the Lowell Mountain wind turbine project, which has become a PR disaster and will likely be a financial fiasco as well. It is producing energy at about 15 cents per kwh instead of the 10 cents that was projected.


∎  New England grid prices have averaged about between 5 and 6 cents per kwh for four years.

∎  Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee prices are about 5.5 to 6 cents per kwh.

∎  Green Mountain Power bought 60 megawatts of steady, near-carbon-dioxide-free nuclear energy at 4.66 cents per kwh.

Willem Post