Category Archives: energy

India wins big on clean energy with World Bank investing $775 million – Economic Times

The United States is going to have to get serious about renewable energy and energy efficiency if it plans to “lead the world.”

@wind-Georgia-mtn

from the Economic Times:

“The World Bank is ready to partner with the government in scaling up sustainable clean energy investments.”

Minister for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal recently said that the potential and scope of renewable sources were a part of the government’s vision for ensuring energy security.

Narendra Taneja, national convener of the BJP’s energy cell, told ET earlier that the ruling party “strongly believes that renewable energy will play a pivotal role in bringing power to every household in the country”.

via World Bank to invest $775 million in clean energy projects across India – Economic Times.

Guest Post: Christopher Bray Commentary

Pipeline Phase 2 Comes at Too High a Constitutional Price

Run by permission of the author, state Senator Christopher A. Bray, Democrat from Addison Vermont. Senator Bray serves on the Senate Finance and the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs committees (see who else is on these committees); he is also a member of the Vermont Economic Progress Council and the Vermont Telecommunications Authority.
This piece originally ran in VT Digger. If you’d like to comment on the piece, I hope you’ll comment here as well as on the VT Digger site. VT Digger is a valuable resource that relies on your financial support. Learn how you can support their work.

Senator Christopher Bray

Senator Christopher Bray

Addison County is currently the scene of a controversial three-part drama.

Vermont Gas Systems/GazMetro has proposed the Addison Natural Gas Project (ANGP): Phase 1 will bring gas to Middlebury, and it has already received a certificate of public good; Phase 2 is the subject of an application now before the Public Service Board; and Phase 3 is in the concept stage, and may someday bring gas from Middlebury to Rutland.

ANGP Phase 2 creates a lateral line to bring gas from Middlebury to the International Paper Co. in Ticonderoga, New York. The principal justification for this project is that it will bring revenues to Vermont Gas Systems/GazMetro that the company can then use to help underwrite the costs of building Phase 3. Some people call this “free money,” just waiting to be taken and used to Vermont’s advantage.

Of course, it’s not really “free money,” because in order to build this project, a large transmission pipeline has to be constructed across the towns of Cornwall and Shoreham, and then under Lake Champlain to International Paper on the far shore. On Town Meeting Day 2014, both the affected towns put the pipeline project to a vote. Both towns voted no — Cornwall overwhelmingly so: 126 against, 16 for. In Shoreham the vote was 66 against, 38 for.

The pipeline, however, isn’t going to run on town land, it’s going to run across private property — and nearly every landowner I have spoken with is adamantly opposed to the project. To add insult to injury, not a single family hosting the transmission line is going to receive gas service from the smaller distribution lines that will run to a very small number of locations — to approximately 130 potential addresses of the total 1,294 addresses in the two towns.

It’s easy to see why the stage has been set for controversy.

How can we step away from the controversy and figure this out civilly? As always, the Vermont Constitution can help us sort this out in a legal, rational and respectful manner that’s fair to all parties: the landowners, Vermont Gas Systems/GazMetro, and International Paper.

The Vermont Constitution, Chapter I, Article 1 spells out our “unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety …” Property rights are fundamental. But they are not unlimited.

In the very next section, Article 2 says: “That private property ought to be subservient to public uses when necessity requires it, nevertheless, whenever any person’s property is taken for the use of the public, the owner ought to receive an equivalent in money.”

The beauty of our Constitution lies in its balancing of potentially conflicting interests: first, it establishes private property rights, and second it makes these rights subservient to public use when necessary.

This second provision is the basis for our laws on eminent domain, which enable a utility, for instance, to take property (often in the form of an easement, or even outright sale) for a project that delivers a legitimate “public use” of “necessity” — that is, a project that merits a certificate of public good, as judged by the Public Service Board.

How do these constitutional provisions affect the Phase 2 application to the PSB for a certificate of public good? Whose interests should predominate? Those of private landowners unwilling to sell easements that would enable the pipeline to cross their properties? Or is there a “public use” for which there is a “necessity,” and the sale of easements should be forced upon these landowners?

An examination of the “public uses” of the project provides a clear answer: even if every Vermont home and business along the project’s distribution lines signs up for service, approximately 99 percent of the gas moved through the line will be delivered to one, private, out-of-state customer, International Paper. Ninety-nine percent!

In short, this project is about the private use of a gas system, not public use; and where there is virtually no public use, there certainly can be no public necessity.

In this project, Vermont Gas Systems/GazMetro therefore deserves no right to take property, no powers of eminent domain. And more broadly, there is no public use (“public good”) here to merit the issuance of a certificate of public good by the PSB.

Some ANGP advocates have seen this weakness in the Phase 2 application, and they have offered a justification: Phase 2’s real public good is that the revenues earned will enable the construction of Phase 3 sooner — and Phase 3 will offer some public use. Vermont Gas Systems CEO Don Gilbert told the Addison Independent (June 24, 2013) that Phase 2 would “allow the company to extend gas to Rutland in 15 years, instead of more than 25 years from now.” While this may be so, the ANGP Phase 2 application for a certificate of public good must stand legally on its own merits; no certificate of public good can be issued for a public good that would be delivered by a future project that currently only exists as a concept, for which no application has been submitted to the PSB, and for which there is no guarantee that it will ever be formally proposed or actually constructed.

As is so often the case, our Constitution does give us clear guidance: private property rights are constitutionally protected, subject to public use when required by necessity. We should, as Vermonters, guard our constitutional rights with care and vigor. In this case, there is no public use, no necessity, and private property rights should prevail.

The ANGP Phase 2 application (Docket 8180) is before the PSB now. I urge you to help protect the property rights not just of the residents of Cornwall and Shoreham, but of all Vermonters — because our constitutional rights are only as strong as our affirmation of them not for ourselves but for others who are under duress. Like the mutual aid agreements that keep our volunteer fire departments going, we need to “turn out for Cornwall and Shoreham.”

I urge you to write to the following people and tell them cordially but clearly that you oppose ANGP Phase 2 (Docket 8180): James Volz, Chair, Vermont Public Service Board; Chris Recchia, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Public Service; and Peter Shumlin, Governor.

ANGP Phase 2 may appear to some as “free money,” but it comes at far too high a constitutional price.

Has VPR gone over to the dark side?

A one-sided “debate” is no debate at all – it’s an advertisement.

Providing two sides to any story is what we expect from VPR

Annette Smith, well-know anti-renewable energy crusader is the only guest on Vermont Public Radio’s program Vermont Edition today at noon. Never one to stand in the way of the fossil fuel industry’s talking points, Ms. Smith will not complain about the proposed pipelines in Vermont but she will denigrate renewable energy production.

LISTEN TO VERMONT EDITION

wind-turbines-and-solar-panels-mountaintop-removal

Since these mountains are not in her back yard, Ms. Smith did not protest their destruction.

Call Vermont Edition at 800-639-2211 with your comments and questions as well as leave a comment or question on Vermont Edition’s Facebook Page. You know Ms. Smith’s few followers will be participating. It’s time to stand up to the fossil fuel industry…

 

Renewable Energy Vermont Celebrates the Signing of 2014 Net-Metering Bill into Law

For Immediate Release: 

Shumlin-at-net-metering-signing

Contact: Gabrielle Stebbins, Executive Director, Renewable Energy Vermont

802-595-5373, gabrielle@revermont.org

###

New law re-opens the opportunity for self-generation to all Vermonters

East Montpelier, VT – Governor Peter Shumlin signed H. 702 into law Tuesday morning at the McKnight Farm in East Montpelier, with the enthusiastic support of renewable energy businesses and others supporting a clean, sustainable energy future.

Net-metering, the state program that allows Vermonters to produce their own electricity, through small hydro, wind and solar energy, will be re-opened for business after reaching an arbitrary cap that limited some utilities’ ability to continue to allow rate payers to connect their self-produced electricity to the grid.  H. 702 passed 136-8 through the Vermont House and unanimously in the Senate.

Renewable Energy Vermont is pleased to see the overwhelming tri-partisan support for net-metering in Vermont,” said Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) Chair, Tom Hughes of Sunward Systems.  “With the passage of this bill, renewable energy businesses can get back to work offering solar to all Vermonters and we can keep our #1 ranking in solar jobs per capita.”

“Net metering is a winning proposition for Vermont.  We’ve seen millions of dollars of energy savings as a result of solar energy.  Our transmission company has been able to defer large transmission projects as a result of more Vermonters generating clean energy, close to where it is needed in coordination with increased efficiency. This is smart energy, job, financial and climate policy,” stated Gabrielle Stebbins, Executive Director of REV.

 

Gabrielle Stebbins

Executive Director

Renewable Energy Vermont

gabrielle@revermont.org

(802) 229-0099

www.revermont.org

Blacking out America would be a cinch, because there’s not enough distributed solar

powerline-540x400

Grist reports:

Crippling America’s old-fashioned electrical grid for a long period of time would be disturbingly easy. Saboteurs need only wait for a heat wave, and then knock out a factory plus a small number of the 55,000 electric-transmission substations that are scattered throughout the country.

That’s according to the findings of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission analysis. “Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer,” wrote FERC officials in a memo for a former chair of the agency.

Read the rest of the story here - Blacking out America would be a cinch, because there’s not enough distributed solar | Grist.

Keystone XL Testimony

KEYSTONE XL AND THE NATIONAL INTEREST DETERMINATION

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Presiding: Chairman Menendez

Date: Thursday, March 13, 2014 Time: 11:15 AM

Location: Senate Dirksen 419

Unfortunately, Tweeting the story isn’t always possible. It takes more than 140 characters to explain what’s happening. Here’s a chance for you to hear from the horses mouth, so to speak. I’ve included links to each of their written testimony.

It’s no surprise where each of them stood on the issue. What’s your position on the Keystone XL pipeline? For me, my issue is more related to carbon than any one carbon source. Although, as Dr. James Hansen explains in one of his answers, … if you develop Keystone, it’s “game over for the climate.”

TESTIFYING:

The Honorable Karen Alderman Harbert

President and CEO Institute for 21st Century EnergyU.S. Chamber of Commerce Washington, DC

Download Testimony

 

Dr. James Hansen

Director of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Adjunct Professor

Columbia University Earth Institute
New York, NY

Download Testimony

 

Mr. Michael Brune

Executive Director

Sierra Club
San Francisco, CA

Download Testimony

 

General, USMC, (Ret.) James L. Jones

President
Jones Group International
Washington, DC

Download Testimony

Hey VT and NH, Tar Sands are at the back door

I just received some distressing news about the tar sands

Enbridge is determined to pump it, one way or the other

VERMONT-TAR-SANDS-large570

Late yesterday afternoon Canada’s National Energy Board approved all 3 of Enbridge’s requests for using Line 9 for transporting their tar sands oil across Canada to Montreal.

They requested that it should be allowed to reverse the flow of Line 9B, so that all of line 9 can now flow West to East from the Ontario/Michigan border to Montreal. In addition that requested approval to add heavy crude to the list of thieving they’re allowed to carry in the pipeline. Lastly, they requested the right to expand the capacity from 240,000 barrels per day to 300,000 barrels per day.

This joint press release by the following is below.

Jim Murphy, National Wildlife Federationjmurphy@nwf.org, 802-595-5268

Johanna Miller, Vermont Natural Resources Counciljmiller@vnrc.org, 802-223-2328 ext. 112

Jade Walker, 350 Vermontjade@350vt.org, 215-939-2386

Ben Walsh, VPIRGben@vpirg.org, 802-734-7680

Sandra Levine, Conservation Law Foundationslevine@clf.org, 802-249-2607

Greg MacDonald, Sierra Club Vermontgreg.macdonald@sierraclub.org, 802-751-5460

Danielle Droitsch, NRDCddroitsch@nrdc.org: 802-513-6243

Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline reversal approved, bringing tar sands to New England’s doorstep

March 6, 2014 

Canada’s National Energy Board today announced its approval of pipeline giant Enbridge’s plan to reverse its Canadian Line 9 pipeline to bring tar sands east to Montreal. In doing so, the Canadian government has opened the way for toxic tar sands to come to Vermont.

This comes only two days after 13 towns on and near the pipeline’s route in Vermont, as well as from other corners of the state, passed resolutions at Town Meeting stating opposition to tar sands transport here.

The Exxon-owned Portland Pipe Line Corporation that controls the 63-year-old Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which currently transports lighter crude from Portland, Maine, northward through Vermont to Montreal, has expressed interest in receiving tar sands from Enbridge to transport this heavy crude from Montreal to Portland along its aging pipeline.

“Vermonters have already loudly signaled opposition to transporting tar sands across our rivers and farms, alongside lakes, and through communities of the Northeast Kingdom,” said Jim Murphy, National Wildlife Federation Senior Counsel. “A spill would have a devastating impact on our water supplies, wildlife habitat and tourism industry. And any transport of tar sands through Vermont would encourage growth of an industry that contradicts all of our state’s leadership and hard work on moving toward cleaner sources of energy.”

Citizens in Quebec and Ontario strongly opposed sending tar sands through their communities and watersheds, too – but they were steamrolled by tar sands corporate interests and complicit Canadian officials.

“It is time to send a clear message that tar sands growth stops here,” said Johanna Miller, Energy Program Director at Vermont Natural Resources Council. “In the wake of this Canadian decision, it is crucial that the State Department make it clear that a Presidential Permit, accompanied by a full environmental impact study, be required before oil companies take one more step toward using Vermont as a highway for the dirtiest oil on the planet.”

Strafford-Protest

Miller added that the more routes are blocked, the longer it will take to develop one of the world’s dirtiest sources of fuel, and likely the more expensive and difficult it will be to do so. “It’s not a certainty that this resource will be developed, and for the sake of our climate and future, it must not be,” she said. “Vermont can play a meaningful role in this.”

In order to bring tar sands through Vermont and Northern New England, it is likely Portland Pipe Line Corporation would require approval from the U.S. State Department. Pursuant to a September 2013 ruling from the Act 250 District Commissioner in St. Johnsbury, the company would also need an Act 250 permit.

”Our leaders – Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sens. Peter Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch – have been strong allies in the fight against toxic tar sands oil,” said Ben Walsh, Clean Energy Advocate at VPIRG.  “We call on them once again to stand up for Vermonters, and make sure the federal government gives any tar sands project the scrutiny we deserve.”

The 13 towns – three of them crossed by the pipeline – that passed resolutions aimed at keeping Vermont tar sands free on Tuesday joined 29 towns that did so last year. “Communities in the Northeast Kingdom and others statewide are making a powerful statement about the depth of Vermonters’ opposition to this dirty fuel,” said Jade Walker of organizing group 350 Vermont. “Transporting tar sands through the Portland-Montreal pipeline would be all risks and no benefits for Vermont.”

“The continued devastation of climate change demands that we keep tar sands oil in the ground and out of Vermont,” said Sandra Levine with the Conservation Law Foundation. “This decision brings tar sands oil one step closer to Vermont, but Vermonters are committed to using every tool available, including Act 250, to stop tar sands in its tracks.”

Vermonters reaffirm support for renewable energy, opposition to fossil fuel expansion

lowell mountain turbines

PRESS RELEASE

Gabrielle Stebbins, Ex. Dir., Renewable Energy Vermont

March 5, 2014 – At town meetings across the state, Vermonters voted overwhelmingly in support of renewable energy and against the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the Green Mountain State.

“Vermonters showed their desire for a renewable energy future on Town Meeting Day,” said Renewable Energy Vermont chair Tom Hughes.  “They delivered a statement about what the state values and what direction we should go: We should be producing more local renewable power and using less imported fossil fuels.  It’s the hope of Vermont’s renewable energy industry that legislators and policy makers in Montpelier hear and act upon that unequivocal message.”

Vermont has the most solar jobs per capita in the nation, and the renewable energy sector of the Vermont economy continues to grow.

About Renewable Energy Vermont (REV)

REV is Vermont’s only non-profit, non-partisan renewable energy trade association working to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and expand the availability of renewable sources of energy throughout the state and region.

 

###

 

Media Contact:

Gabrielle Stebbins

Executive Director

Renewable Energy Vermont

gabrielle@revermont.org

802-229-0099

___

Jennifer Overton

Operations Coordinator
 
Renewable Energy Vermont
PO Box 1036
Montpelier, VT 05601
802-229-0099

Massive wind spill in Vermont

Massive-Wind-Spill-540x

Nearly every day there is a massive wind spill harvested by wind farms somewhere in this country

Georgia Mountain Community Wind Open House showed hundreds of Vermonters that wind development can be done right

Georgia Mountain Community Wind’s Managing Partner, David Blittersdorf said, “It is incredibly exciting to have this project complete and powering the community. So much about this project features the best of local community wind, from where the energy will be used and where the workers came from, to the project’s local financing. Since growing up with a view of Grandpa’s Knob where Vermont’s first utility wind turbine stood in the 1940s, I’ve wanted to see Vermonters return to our roots of greater self-reliance and stewardship for our future.”

What is the true cost of fossil fuel?

EPA says more than 70 oil spills are reported on an average day

How many spills are reported to the public on an average day?

Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland County public safety officials say this spill in Vandergrift wasn’t that bad with only 3,500 to 4,500 gallons spilled.

At the end of their evening broadcast, PBS NewsHour reads off any names of men or women killed in action while “defending this country” in Afghanistan and around the World. Viewers are reminded of the true cost of the war.

Perhaps we should show each day’s oil spill somewhere in the US. Either a train derailment like this one or another pipeline that ruptures like in Mayflower Arkansas. Understanding the true cost of fossil fuel may have people start to see the true value of running the planet off from renewable energy instead.

The sun provides 85 terra watts of energy to the planet every day. We use 15 terra watts. Don’t you think shifting our focus to free, renewable energy makes a lot more sense?

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