Green Mountain Power, in its efforts to make Rutland the renewable energy capital of Vermont, is to be commended. Indeed, its public relations campaign has succeeded so well that its virtues are daily extolled in editorials and publicly praised by politicians and even the police chief.
Is it any wonder that under the capable hands of GMP CEO Mary Powell and her enabling partner, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, that all the hills of Vermont will soon be humming turbine tunes and its valleys abloom with photovoltaic cells?
But not so fast, please, lest we laud too much; it is not all altruistic.
GMP stands to benefit mightily from its efforts. Each installation of a renewable energy device by GMP is highly subsidized by taxpayers and commands prices from ratepayers that are more than three times the cost of base-load power.
The Shumlin administration and its minions on the Public Service Board are working to make wind and solar power, which now account for less than 2 percent of the state’s power, to contribute 90 percent by 2020. That is an insane proposition; it is a physical improbability.
But it is politically attractive, so let’s cap all those hills with wind towers and fill all the valley slopes with solar panels.
But again, not so fast. According to a Wall Street Journal commentary by David Garman and Samuel Thernstrom (“Europe’s Renewables Romance Fades,” July 30), Denmark hopes to get 50 percent of its electricity from wind by 2020 (it now accounts for 30 percent), and Germany aims to receive 35 percent of its electricity from wind and solar (now 12 percent) by 2020.
“(T)he honeymoon with renewable is ending as the practical challenges become clear: The first challenge is cost,” Garman and Thernstrom write. “Germany has invested more than $350 billion in renewable energy deployment and its households pay the highest power costs in Europe, except for the Danish. On average Germans and Danes pay roughly 300 percent more for residential electricity than Americans do.”
Reliability is also an issue. Dependence on renewable energy equals potential blackouts.
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