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Speakers laud Vermont’s shift from fossil fuels  

Anthony Roisman, the chair of the Vermont Public Utility Commission, was not the only speaker at the conference to oppose large-scale wind turbines. Following a question-and-answer session by the Public Utilities Commission chairman, Catherine Dimitruk, executive director of the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, spoke of her organization’s recent success in preventing wind generation in Franklin and Grand Isle counties. The regional energy plan that accomplishes this was approved by the Department of Public Service on Sept. 19, Dimitruk said, and it’s the first regional plan in the state to successfully ban any form of renewable-energy generation.

Credit:  By Mike Polhamus | Oct 2 2017 | vtdigger.org ~~

SOUTH BURLINGTON – Vermont is in the middle of an energy transformation, and leading the charge nationally, speakers at the Renewable Energy Vermont conference said Monday.

Keynote speakers at the Burlington event included Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Anthony Roisman, the chair of the Vermont Public Utility Commission.

Both men said Vermont is setting an example for other states to follow as the utility sector transitions away from fossil fuels.

“We’re at a crossroads,” Donovan said. “We’re going forward, we’re not moving backwards.”

Donovan directed pointed remarks toward President Donald Trump, whom he accused of having “abdicat[ed]” responsibility for protection of the environment. Donovan blamed Trump and his allies for attempting to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, an institution another Republican president, Richard Nixon, established in 1970.

Donovan promised his office would oppose such efforts. “People have a fundamental right to clean air and clean water … and we’ll do everything we can to protect it,” he said. “When they talk about the future of energy, when they talk about the future of energy efficiency, they talk about the state of Vermont.”

Roisman said Vermont “is at a crossroads” and “leading the charge,” as the state embraces certain energy-related goals. What is not yet clear is how Vermont can achieve those goals, while keeping the cost of energy low, Roisman said.

While he described himself as an energy-efficiency “fanatic” and personally supports solar power, large-scale dam projects and wood-fired energy plants, Roisman is not a fan of large-scale wind turbines as a power source.

Environmentalists say wind energy is likely to play an increasingly important role for states like Vermont that seek to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, as it is likely to be the second-cheapest source of power from new generators by 2022, behind geothermal energy.

The relatively low cost of wind energy is one reason why wind power features so prominently in the state’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, which maps out several scenarios that could bring the state in line with its long-range energy goals, such as one that aims to supply 90 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2050.

Roisman was not the only speaker at the conference to oppose large-scale wind turbines.

Following a question-and-answer session by the Public Utilities Commission chairman, Catherine Dimitruk, executive director of the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, spoke of her organization’s recent success in preventing wind generation in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

The regional energy plan that accomplishes this was approved by the Department of Public Service on Sept. 19, Dimitruk said, and it’s the first regional plan in the state to successfully ban any form of renewable-energy generation.

Franklin and Grand Isle counties also have commuters who drive further than almost any in Vermont, Dimitruk said.

Dimitruk expressed confidence that, by the time Vermonters hope to reach the state’s ambitious energy goals in 2050, unforeseen technological advances would bring unobtrusive wind turbines and automobiles that contribute relatively little to the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Renewable-energy proponents who hope to get ahead of similar bans on generation in their region of the state should get involved in the regional planning process early, said Sash Lewis, an attorney who focuses on renewable energy at Burlington-based firm Dunkiel Saunders Elliott Raubvogel Hand, and a speaker at the event.

Only towns and regional planning commissions have legal standing to appeal regional energy plans once they’ve been accepted by the Department of Public Service, Lewis said. Moreover, the PUC is barred from considering whether the DPS has approved a regional energy plan in error, he said.

Renewable-energy developers will need to site their projects in prime locations if their backers hope to win approval from the PUC, Lewis said, and renewable-energy advocates will need to get involved in regional planning if they hope to encourage the energy transformation heralded by other speakers at the event.

“If you want a say in the process,” Lewis said, “you need to do it early.”

Source:  By Mike Polhamus | Oct 2 2017 | vtdigger.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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