This Week: Solarfest Recap, Net-Metering, Solar Explosion, Wind Noise & More…

Jul 26, 2013 No Comments by
Thank you to everyone that came out to Solarfest this year and visited us. We had a fantastic time. We spoke with over 150 Vermonters and visitors concerned about appropriate renewable energy development. The vast majority felt strongly we have to develop renewable energy in the most responsible ways possible.

At SolarFest our PowerUp Program was a huge hit. We had over 30 Vermonters express interest in participating. Unfortunately, we’re struggling to figure out the best way for those living in an utility area that has met its net-metering cap to participate. VEC, Hardwick Electric, and Washington Electric Coop have all met their 4% limit on net-metered generation. Whether those utilities will be continuing to offer net-metering and pay the additional solar adder for kilowatt hours generated from net-metered systems appears to be somewhat of an open question. We are hoping that they will – or that the state can quickly figure out a way to continue to incentivize net-metered systems in the most economically sustainable way possible.

As usual utility-scale wind didn’t fail to make the news this week. Green Mountain Power applied for and received a permit to kill endangered bats at the Lowell wind project. Also reported this week was that as we reached high temperatures and neared peak demand, ISO-NE asked GMP to curtail output from the Lowell wind project. The precise reason for the curtailment hasn’t been announced but is being investigated.

The Lowell wind project was also subject to substantial debate about noise. On the same day the PSB ordered GMP to prove why it shouldn’t be fined or sanctioned for the project exceeding its noise standards, GMP released a statement saying the plant was in compliance with the noise standards. The PSB and GMP were of course referring to different time periods – but it is easy to assume the release was intended to distract from the news of their previous violations. Fortunately press reports did a great job of distinguishing the issues andhighlighting that the plant didn’t have an unblemished record.

Over at Georgia Mountain, neighbors of the project and others visiting the site expressed concerns about noise from the utility-scale wind operation. The Milton Independent reported on the situation and included a quote from developer and owner David Blittersdorf dismissing the concerns, saying, “They’re magnifying the effect in their own heads. I don’t want to call them crazy, but I’m very close.” Neighbors say the constant noise is, “pure hell.” Also this week, a neighbor to a Vergennes Northern Power System’s turbine reported in the newsthat the turbine’s noise and shadow flicker were giving him headaches.

There was a great opinion piece from Bruce Post in the Burlington Free Press discussing many of the dynamics in play when it comes to utility-scale wind development. Post accurately points out that for neighbors of these projects, their noise, construction, shadow flicker and more represent an uncompensated intrusion in the place they call home. His piece is one of the first to attempt to articulate the feelings of violation many living near these projects endure.

This week residents from Grafton were able to spend 22 minutes with Governor Shumlin expressing their concerns about the project. The residents asked the Governor to appoint someone to the PSB that has a background in helping communities face industrial development. They also asked that the Administration clarify their position on the authority of towns in the permitting process. Neither have happened yet, but those concerned about inappropriate development are hopeful they will.

Although wind made a lot of news this week, it was also pretty busy on the solar front. A non-profit released a report saying Vermont was ninth in the nation for solar generation per capita. The report comes at the same time there are several projects announced and underway, including one by GMP at the old Rutland Landfill. If interest in our PowerUp Program is any measure, we’ll be seeing a lot more solar generation in Vermont. Maybe we’ll even climb the charts.

Coming up on August 17th and 18th is a really cool event you should think about attending called The Rendezvous. The event is dedicated to finding a path forward on energy that has a harmonious relationship with the earth. The two-day event is being held on a farm in Irasburg, Vermont. The host farm has the Montreal-Portland pipeline running through a corner of it, and is just miles away from the Lowell wind project. It’s an interesting setting to have a discussion about moving forward with unity and mutual respect. I’ll be there and look forward to seeing you there as well.

Thank you for your time on this Friday evening. Please, if you appreciate this update, donate to Energize Vermont. We’re a small organization taking on a big task and anything you can do to help is appreciated.

Have a great weekend and be well,

Lukas B. Snelling


Brattleboro Reformer: Shumlin meets with Grafton group to discuss wind turbines

Jul 26, 2013 01:02 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from the Brattleboro Reformer. July 26, 2013. GRAFTON — Gov. Peter Shumlin met with six members of the public last week to hear their concerns about the potential industrial wind turbines in their town. The governor was at the Grafton Inn on state business and allotted 22 minutes to the group of residents — …

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Jul 25, 2013 09:03 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from ABC 22. July 25, 2013. Twenty-one wind turbines swirl high above Lowell, Vermont, right in the path of endangered bats. Green Mountain Power has faced significant push back to the wind farm, which critics say threatens already stressed species. Dorothy Schnure of Green Mountain Power says, “we’ve worked really hard to minimize the effect …

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Jul 25, 2013 08:28 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from the Rutland Herald. July 25, 2013. Green Mountain Power thinks its plans for Rutland’s landfill could serve as a model for the rest of the state. The utility submitted its application to the Public Service Board on Wednesday for a certificate of public good to build a 2.3-megawatt solar farm on the inactive …

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Jul 25, 2013 07:28 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from the VT Digger. July 24, 2013. The question of whether some rural utilities should finance small renewable energy projects has taken a nosedive into the realm of legal ambiguity. The issue stems from a law that requires utilities to credit customers 20 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they produce through small renewable energy systems, or …

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Jul 25, 2013 07:18 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from VPR. July 24, 2013. Last week, when electricity demand hit a near all time high in New England, the operator of the regional electric grid ordered the Lowell, Vt. wind project to cut its power output. The move baffles the utility and wind developers. They question why a renewable energy project was scaled …

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Jul 25, 2013 06:56 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from the Milton Independent. July 24, 2013. The way Georgia Mountain Community Wind co-owner David Blittersdorf tells it, the people who complain about wind turbine noise are just short of crazy. “They’re magnifying the effect in their own heads,” Blittersdorf said, under the shadow of Turbine 3 at the company’s open house last month. …

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Jul 24, 2013 12:18 pm | Kenny Soto

Posted from CAT-TV Bennington Tonight. July 19, 2013.

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Jul 24, 2013 12:13 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from the VT Digger. July, 23, 2013. A new report from the nonprofit Environment America shows Vermont is leading New England in solar proliferation on a per-person basis. Over the past decade, solar photovoltaic capacity in the United States has increased almost 140-fold, to more than 7,200 megawatts at the end of 2012. And …

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Jul 23, 2013 07:17 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from WPTZ. July, 23, 2013. Michael Mammoliti said a wind turbine a few hundred feet from his Vermont home is giving him headaches — literally.

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Jul 22, 2013 01:49 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from the Burlington Free Press. July 20, 2013. The passionate disagreements about the F-35 and industrial wind share a commonality: the meaning of home. “Home is the place,” wrote Robert Frost, “where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Home and hearth are rooted in our soul, private places …

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Jul 22, 2013 01:42 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from WCAX. July 19th, 2013. LOWELL, Vt. – Green Mountain Power could face fines for noise violations at its Kingdom Community Wind farm. The turbines atop Lowell Mountain have been tested three times since the project went online. The first tests last fall and winter showed sound levels slightly exceeded permitted levels for about …

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Jul 22, 2013 01:37 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from the VT Digger. July 19, 2013 A new report from Green Mountain Power (GMP) shows that sound levels from its 21-turbine wind project on Lowell Mountain were within the boundaries of its permit in late spring. On Wednesday, however, the Vermont Public Service Board called for an Aug. 8 hearing to consider sanctioning …

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Jul 22, 2013 01:27 pm | Kenny Soto

Reposted from July 20, 2013. MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s largest utility is touting what it says is an excellent record of preventing excess noise at its wind power project on Lowell Mountain, while state regulators are demanding to know why the company shouldn’t be fined over it. The Public Service Board has set …

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Jul 22, 2013 10:38 am | EV

Appreciate Dialogue. But Still Frustrated. GRAFTON, VT—Six Grafton citizens, all long-time residents, and representing nearly 100 concerned Grafton residents and property owners,, met with Governor Shumlin in Grafton on Wednesday, July 17th, to outline their concerns about a possible industrial wind installation in Grafton/Windham.  “While we are grateful for this opportunity to meet directly with …

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