Demand is not there
The 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan has as a goal of obtaining 90 percent of ALL energy from renewable sources by 2050, not just electrical energy which accounts for only only one third of ALL energy. Poor Vermont's goal is far more extreme than rich Germany's 2050 goal.
Vermont's heavily-subsidized SPEED projects and ridge line wind turbine projects, such as the one on Lowell Mountain, produce energy at a cost of 15 to 20 cent per kilowatt-hour before the 7 cent utility markup, taxes and fees. Solar SPEED projects, which receive a state-mandated 27 cent per kilowatt-hour, are mostly owned by in-state and out-of state multi-millionaires seeking a tax shelter their high incomes. The high energy costs are charged, via rate schedules, to already-struggling households and businesses whose real incomes have been declining since 2007, due to the near-zero-growth economy.
VELCO, owner/manager of Vermont's high voltage electrical transmission system, typically makes capital cost projections for 10- to 20-year periods, based on growth in electrical demand and consumption. However, that growth has not happened since 2007. In fact, demand and consumption has decreased, mainly due to skimping and cost-cutting by households and businesses, and due to increased energy efficiency.
As a result, VELCO does not need to make as much investment to expand the transmission system, and an estimated $250 million does not need to be budgeted for the next 10 to 20 years. This has almost nothing to do with renewable energy projects, because they are mostly connected to the low-voltage electrical distribution systems, which are owned by utilities, such as Green Mountain Power.
All of New England already has a surplus of generating capacity, even with Vermont Yankee closed. There is no need to advocate for building more capacity. Fossil fuel consumption and related carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced much quicker, AND at a much lower cost, with increased energy efficiency, than with renewable energy projects that produce high-cost energy at three to four times New England grid prices.
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