Vermont February Update

With the goal of building 200 miles of ridgeline wind in Vermont (David Blittersdorf’s number) or 126 3MW turbines (VPIRG’s number) or any new renewable energy project anywhere even if it’s poorly sited (Rep. Tony Klein’s approach) or building new renewables as fast as possible (Gov. Shumlin’s approach), big wind projects are not going away. Derby is coming up for its first pre-hearing conference tomorrow, the Grandpa’s Knob spokesman made a presentation at the Killington Selectboard last week and says they expect to have their power purchase agreement finalized within the next few weeks, the Brighton/Ferdinand developers have been active with state agencies, GMP has now cleared the Crane Path road all the way to the southern end of the Lowell Mountains and blasting continues, and the Sheffield turbines are making noise.


We have made progress in this current legislative session and need to keep the issue front and center before more communities become divided and ecosystems destroyed. This email contains information you can use. There are lots of things you can do, information to share, activities to attend.


Also, if you haven’t yet done so, please join VCE and Energize Vermont to support the work of the organizations doing the most to support the goal of ending big wind development on Vermont’s mountains while working on energy solutions Vermonters can live with.


1. Audio and Video from Ridges are Not Renewable Day in Vermont Statehouse Feb. 2, 2012

–Energize Vermont’s Press Conference Feb. 2, 2012 in the Cedar Creek Room at the Vermont Statehouse

–Testimony by Charles Johnson, former Vermont State Naturalist, to Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee 2/2/12

–Testimony of Geoffrey Goll of Princeton Hydro to Sen. NRE Comm. 2/2/12

–Testimony of Susan Morse, wildlife biologist, to Sen. NRE Comm. 2/2/12

–Audio of testimony by Geoffrey Goll, Padraic Monk (of ANR) in House Fish, Wildlife & Water Resources Committee 2/2/12


2. Monday 2/13 in Montpelier at the Public Service Board — Derby Wind Prehearing Conference 1 p.m. Conference

#7832 Prehearing Conference

In Re: Petition of Encore Derby Line Wind, LLC, for certificates of public good, pursuant to 30 V.S.A. Section 248, authorizing: (1) the construction of a wind turbine and electric generation facility at the Grand View Farm located in Derby Line, Vermont; and (2) the construction and installation of a separate wind turbine and electric generation facility at Smugglers Hill Farm located in Derby Line, Vermont, together to be known as the “Derby Line Wind Project”

Held By: Hearing Officer of the Public Service Board, John Cotter, Staff Attorney

Location: The Public Service Board Hearing Room, Third Floor, People’s United Bank Building, 112 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont

Event Date and Time:

Monday, February 13, 2012: 1:00 pm


3. Tuesday 2/14 in Montpelier in the Statehouse — Joint House Committee Review of the PSB process in House Chamber

House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2:30 PM Section 248: Title 30: Certificate of Public Good Review Process

Joint Meeting in House Chamber with House Natural Resources and Energy Committee


4. Thursday 2/16 in Newport — Lowell Mountains Group Annual Meeting with showing of award-winning film Windfall, 6 p.m.

The Lowell Mountains group will be holding their annual meeting on Thurs. Feb. 16, 2012 at the Eastside Restaurant beginning at 6:00pm with social time with dinner following.

There will be a premier of the movie Windfall designed to answer questions about the wind industry. There will also be a solar specialist that will discuss off the grid solar electricity. The public is welcome.

Please RSVP by calling 802-744-2465 or emailing


5. Do you have ideas about where to distribute this important film, Vermont Energy Options, in your community?

Use the contact form on the website below to share ideas and get involved. This is a great vehicle for education and to stimulate dialogue.

Vermont’s Energy Options is a documentary work-in-progress. The purpose of the documentary is to examine the different paths Vermont has to a renewable energy future and create a dialogue around their respective impacts and benefits.


6. VCE’s Comments on the Reappointment of James Volz as PSB Chair, to the Senate Finance Committee

posted here:


7. VCE’s Wind Turbine Impact Complaint Form is now ready to distribute.

If you are a neighbor, or if you hear from people complaining about impacts from wind projects in Vermont, please refer them to this form and ask them to send it in:


8. Do you want to sign onto this letter?

If so, please reply to with your name and address in Vermont. Deadline 5 p.m. 2/13 — that’s right, short time frame.


February 14, 2012

Rep. Peter Welch

US House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Welch:

As residents and property-owners of the State of Vermont we urge you to vote NO on any further extensions of the Production Tax Credit (‘PTC’) for wind energy for these reasons:


High Cost: Since adopted in 1992, the cost of the PTC for wind energy has ballooned from $5 million a year in 1998 to over $1 billion annually today. This open-ended subsidy of 2.2¢/kWh in after-tax income represents a pre-tax value of approximately 3.7¢/kWh. In many regions of the country the PTC now equals, or is greater than, the wholesale price of power.


Even if the PTC were to sunset, taxpayers are still obligated to cover nearly $10 billion in tax credits for wind projects built in the last decade. This is in addition to the nearly $20 billion debt for wind projects eligible under Section 1603.


Inefficient: Since the PTC is uniform across the country it is highly inefficient, supporting poorly sited wind development in some areas while in other areas supporting projects that would have been built regardless of the credit. This is true in Texas and the Pacific Northwest where wind generation exceeds transmission capacity. In New England the PTC overpays investors since utilities routinely sign long-term contracts for wind at prices significantly above market.


Wind sector slow-down not tied to the PTC: The wind industry insists it’s at risk of a slow-down without the PTC and jobs will be lost. But this view ignores crucial factors driving development in the U.S. Demand for wind has eroded, in part, due to states meeting their renewable mandates. Lower natural gas prices have further reduced wind’s attractiveness as a ‘fuel saver’. Faced with these market conditions, wind developers are tabling projects. The EIA now forecasts flat growth in the wind sector for this decade regardless of what happens with the PTC.


Job losses: Despite billions in public funding since 2008, the wind sector has reported a net loss of 10,000 direct and indirect jobs bringing the total to 75,000 jobs. It takes only 0.1 jobs per megawatt to operate a wind plant. Most of the sector’s jobs are temporary construction positions.


The PTC is nothing more than an earmark that lines the pockets of project owners and tax-advantaged investors while skewing the energy market and artificially masking the real cost of wind power. It’s time for the production tax credit to expire.




cc: Speaker John Boehner

Representative Eric Cantor

Representative David Camp

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid


9. Things You Can Do

–Contact your legislators and ask them to


Develop standards for renewable energy projects as part of the RPS, including setbacks from property lines for public health and safety, aesthetic standards for solar, and protection of natural resource values including forests, water, wildlife and their importance in climate change adaptation.

Bias the RPS in favor of community-based solar projects rather than utility-scale wind.

Enhance community engagement in renewable energy development by permitting projects through Act 250 rather than Section 248.

Take a “Time Out” on any new ground-breaking for wind projects until the public health & safety and natural resource issues are better understood and addressed.


–Come to the statehouse between 11 and 2 weekdays. These statehouse visits can make a big difference, two or three people at a time every week. Please do this.

Contact to coordinate good times to come.

–Write letters to the editor

–Appeals of the Deerfield Wind decision are due 2/24. Those of you who commented on the SDEIS can appeal.


10. Photos

Jan. 24, 2012 Photos of Lowell site from DEC Site Inspection


Jan. 25 Lowell Mountains from the west along Route 100, from the north along Route 58, and about 4 miles west on Mines Road


Jan. 26 Sheffield Turbines. Wind was not blowing, blades were not turning or barely turning.

and Feb. 3 (with a few shots of the Lowell Mountains from the east at the beginning). 3 of the 16 turbines were not operating. Sounded like a jet plane in the distance from about a mile away.


Feb. 9 Lempster NH Iberdrola 16 2MW Gamesa turbines 400 feet tall. 1 of the 12 turbines was not operating. Noisy. Woosh woosh woosh and sneakers in a drier type sounds. The home, farm and orchard 3000 feet west of the turbines appears to be abandoned. Standing on the front porch, the noise is amplified and very evident.



11. VCE Notes from Killington Selectboard presentation by Rob Howland representing Grandpa’s Knob developers

Killington Select Board Meeting

Tuesday, February 7th 7:30 PM

Killington Town Office


Town officials present: Jim Haff, Bernard Rome, Seth Webb, Barbara Young (Chris Bianchi absent)


~15 attendees


Rob Howland, consultant from Pittsford, presented the Grandpa’s Knob project to the Killington select board on behalf of his client, Reunion Power


The project:


– Will cover 6 of the 8-9 miles of ridge line

– Southern part isn’t included in project because of an arrangement made with the hang gliders association

– Size: 15-20 turbines

– Power: 40-50 MW ~ about half of the homes in Rutland County

– Height: generally 400-420 ft. tall

– Project requires a 6 month construction period

– Cost: $120,000,000; “about $3-4 million per turbine”

– “Quite a bit of studies” have been performed: “environmental, animals, birds, bats, raptors, wetlands, sensitive areas, housing surveys”

– Within the next few weeks, an agreement will be made with a Vermont utility to purchase the power

– Only a small number of permanent jobs will be created (“1-3”)

– The number of jobs create during construction is unknown

– West Rutland, Castleton, Pittsford, and Hubbardton are the four host communities for the project, but planners are required to notify all towns within a 10 mile radius

– The project has been under evaluation for some years, and is now moving along “quite well”

– PSB filings soon (but first, all surrounding towns within 10 mi. must receive notice)

– Purchasing turbines from Nordex (based in Chicago, manufactured elsewhere in different midwestern state)

– Rob was unable to answer questions from audience about resulting changes in electric bills

– When a town receives notice of a project, they have three options: be silent; write a letter in support of or in opposition of the project; intervene in the PSB hearing and act as a party

– Not interested in selling RECs


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