I’d like to thank the Free Press for printing two articles ( “Whitworth weighs Vermont’s energy future,” “Whitworth: Vermont’s ‘Rumsfeld strategy’,” Aug. 11) on blindly rushing toward renewable energy sources, that only “seem” eco-friendly within the superficial confines most people apply in arriving at their stance. Mark Whitworth has obviously done his homework. I’d like to add to those insights, and reinforce his views.
The current administration in Montpelier has proclaimed we should all be scrapping our present cars in favor of plug-in electric vehicles, within the near future. Obviously, not a moment of research was applied, before making such a declaration. The Shumlin administration has done everything in their power to eliminate 75 percent of the clean electricity generated in Vermont – and succeeded.
Plug-in electric cars are not magically powered by “pixie dust.” They require a rather long charge from an electric outlet. Where does Montpelier think this electricity will come from, to power hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles? You can’t have it both ways. Often, plug-ins electrics are half-jokingly called “coal powered.” There may be no pollutants coming from these car’s tail pipes – those fumes are merely transferred to smoke stacks of remote energy plants.
Montpelier insists on us trading our Chevys and Mazdas for $Nissan Leafs or $100,000-plus Teslas. We will still require our current cars if we want to drive further than the county line. The optimistic projected range between the 8-16 hour charging time is around 90 miles on a Leaf. Allowing 40 miles out, 40 back, with 10 in reserve. What’s been forgotten, and Montpelier neglected to investigate, is, only under the most ideal conditions. The huge battery pack that powers the wheels, also powers everything on the car (heater, headlights, wipers, A/C, etc.). On a cold, rainy night in Vermont, you may now be looking at a range of 15 miles out, 15 home, and 10 to spare. If we lived in municipal areas, like New York City, this may be within realistic limits. We do not. We live in Vermont, where that range gives us a car that is good only for fetching groceries. How many Vermonters can afford a toy like that?
That very large battery pack, which runs nearly the length of the car, needs to be replaced at a huge expense. Whatever you may have saved in not purchasing gasoline over that time will be offset by the cost in replacing the batteries. As that huge collection of batteries will need replaced regularly – and the contents of those batteries contain some rather nasty elements – will the thousands of these cells requiring replacement, annually, in our state be deposited in our land fills, hauled off to a safer location under a mountain in Nevada, or stacked in Mr. Shumlin’s garage?
I’m almost forgetting to include the daily “range anxiety” that accompanies these vehicles. If we were to check Peter Shumlin’s driveway, what are the chances we’d find a Leaf or a Tesla?
Eventually, technology will provide better options than our current choices. We are not there yet. As Mark Whitworth had pointed out, the two types of fuel cells or hydrogen, or other clean options are in development. Mark’s deadly accurate “Rumsfeld analogy” certainly applies here and to strip-mining our mountains with industrial-scale wind farms. On average, there is a 50 percent loss in the transmission of electrical power within the U.S. This being the case, why is Montpelier promoting siting those turbines in the Northeast Kingdom – as far from any population centers as possible. My guess is that a rural area, naturally, has less voices to decry this senseless destruction of our mountains. Why else?
Plug-in electric vehicles are not a practical answer here in
Montpelier should spend more time researching these issues before making knee-jerk proclamations based upon the most superficial knowledge. Quality of new laws and regulations, not quantity!
Peter Morris lives in Burlington.
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