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What I learned at REV  

Much of the conversation focused on loosening the noise rules, with the participants citing them as the biggest issue to wind development in Vermont.

Credit:  Becca Dill, Director of Energize Vermont, November 7, 2022, energizevermont.org ~~

I recently attended the 2022 Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) Conference. The conference is put on annually by the renewable energy industry trade group. It brings together a variety of people who wish to promote renewable energy development in Vermont: those who profit from renewables, those who see renewables as a solution to environmental problems, and those who see renewables as an important sector for economic development.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 was presented as a major win for the renewable energy sector. A flood of tax incentives may bring more hungry out-of-state developers to Vermont. One speaker described the bill’s $270 billion funding for clean energy tax incentives as “a bundle of carrots” waiting for developers to gobble up.

One point of concern was the panel discussion entitled “Bringing Back Wind to Vermont.” The panel was moderated by Vero Bourg-Meyer of Clean Energy States Alliance. It included a collection of individuals who desire to see more big wind in Vermont, including Ryan Darlow of Norwich Solar, Eddie Duncan of RSG, and Nick Laskovski of Greenbacker Renewable Energy.

The panel was opened by acknowledging that big wind in Vermont was controversial but largely attempted to lay out its need and the roadmap to building more of it in Vermont. Some specific topics and quotes:

  • Darlow of Norwich Solar stated that “wind works really well in Vermont’s landscape” and cited three target areas for development: Lake Champlain Valley, Southwestern Vermont, and the Northeast Kingdom.
  • Darlow also said, “We need to reestablish the narrative on what it means to get more wind here.”
  • There was also talk of Vermont needing 40 or more 5MW turbines for our future energy needs. 5MW Turbines can be over 800 ft tall, about 400 ft taller than the ones in Lowell, Vermont.
  • Much of the conversation focused on loosening the noise rules, with the participants citing them as the biggest issue to wind development in Vermont.
  • Another takeaway was the consensus that “the economics are not limited to the mountain regions anymore.” This is, of course, because of the larger turbines, which might be proposed for any town in Vermont.
  • Ultimately the panel urged wind proponents to “Get loud to change the noise regulations.”
  • Near the end, the attorney representing Swanton Wind’s landowner proclaimed that the Swanton Wind project is coming back.

It was clear that developers want to bring Big Wind back to Vermont with much larger turbines than in the past. Energize Vermont is one of the few statewide groups that push back against these developments because of their devastating environmental impact, their effect on neighbors, and because they just don’t make sense from an energy standpoint.

I would like to have heard something about the renewables under development at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory–promising technologies like geothermally generated electricity and hydrogen production using biological or photoelectrochemical means. These technologies have the potential to provide baseload power without tearing up our mountains, destroying wildlife habitats, and contributing to the collapse in biodiversity.

And it would have been nice to hear something about developments in nuclear fusion–the carbon-free technology that produces no radioactive waste. Recent breakthroughs have attracted billions of investor dollars to companies that now envision bringing fusion power plants to the market by the 2030s.

I was encouraged by some of the discussions about Vermont-scale renewable energy solutions and innovative technology solutions, like:

  • The continuing trends of increasing solar PV efficiency and lowering costs
  • Energy storage advances – Nomad Transportable Power Systems from Waterbury demonstrated their mobile battery storage system, which can bring high-capacity battery technology to utility, commercial, and emergency response applications.
  • Important advances in microgrid technology that promise to improve reliability.
  • Innovative UVM research alliances – Panelists discussed the ongoing collaboration between UVM researchers and Vermont utilities, including VELCO, Green Mountain Power, and Stowe Electric.

While we all know there are no perfect solutions to our energy future, we must make sensible decisions protecting our unique and important natural resources and communities. I am excited for Energize Vermont to be the organization that facilitates discussions on the hard issues and raises the voices of Vermonters likely to be impacted by inappropriate energy development. We know that strong communities and biodiversity are our most important assets in fighting climate change, and we aren’t willing to let large corporations make decisions for us.

Source:  Becca Dill, Director of Energize Vermont, November 7, 2022, energizevermont.org

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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