Wind Power in Vermont?             Ben Luce, Ph.D    Email: ben.luce@lyndonstate.edu        Version: March 21, 2011
IntroductionThis presentation presents several argumentsto the effect that utility-scale wind powerdevelopment on mountain...
IntroductionThree basic arguments are presented:• The environmental and aesthetic impacts of ridge line  wind are very gre...
Introduction• Some common justifications for utility-scale  wind development in Vermont are:  – Mitigation of Climate Chan...
Introduction• All of these justifications have merit, but are indirect:  They do not address the question of whether wind ...
Introduction• Other common arguments or claims in support  of wind development in Vermont include:  – There are no viable ...
IntroductionThe drivers for wind development in Vermont today are:• Genuine public support for wind.• A short-term outlook...
IntroductionGenuine, major, technical problems with wind generationexist (in the presenter’s opinion):• Impacts on birds, ...
IntroductionThe “intermittency issue” (in the presenter’s opinion):• Claimed problems with “integrating” wind power on the...
Climate Change and US Energy Policy• The following graphs, and a great deal of other data,  make it abundantly clear that ...
Temperature and CO2 levels are tightly correlated,and human activity has dramatically boosted CO2 levels, essentially over...
Global Climate Models (GCMs) reproduce 20th   century warming accurately & appear to   confirm human (anthropogenic) role:...
Wind Generation Outlook• Wind power is a moderately mature  technology, and is expanding rapidly world  wide.• Many large-...
13
The Department of Energy has a plan for 300 gigawatts(equivalent to 120,000 2.5 megawatt turbines) by 2030.Pressure to bui...
Wind Resource Overview• Virtually all of the US commercially viable wind resource is offshore  and in the Midwest.• As the...
AvailableU.S. Wind Resources                                  Resources            Nearly all of the U.S. wind resources  ...
Relative Ranking of State Wind ResourcesSource: Dept. of Energy’s “Wind Powering America” program. These estimates include...
Comparing Vermont’s Wind Resourcewith a Typical Midwest State, or Offshore• It is instructive to compare Vermont’s wind re...
Wind Resource ComparisonIn gigawatts (Note: This data is also from NREL, but this time with no obvious land exclusions, so...
Iowa vs. Vermont                    (approximately to scale) Iowas worst areas for wind potential exceed the potential of...
Iowa       Iowa is mainly laid out in a grid,       right down to the cornfield level.       Siting wind here is relativel...
Add it All Up: How much wind power could be obtained     from onshore Eastern Wind Resources Overall?• Eastern US onshore ...
< 0.1% CO2                                 Reduction                                 Potential                            ...
Wind Resource Conclusions• Ridge line wind is simply not a major renewable energy  source in the Eastern US.• Offshore win...
Wind Resource Consequences• These resource considerations alone of course do not imply that the  more negligible sources, ...
Wind versus Solar• The solar energy resource in the Eastern US is hundreds of  times larger than the commercial wind resou...
Impacts of Ridge Line Wind DevelopmentSome proponents of ridge line wind development resortto the blanket statement that “...
On the same scale as the mountains themselves: (Size-accurate simulation from a proposed site in MA: Very apropos to Vermo...
(Size-accurate Simulation : Susie’s Peak in Clarendon, VT )
(Size Accurate Simulation: Poultney, VT)                                           31
Mars Hill, MaineThis photo shows how developers often portray their projects, if they portray ridge linewind projects at a...
Mars Hill, MaineThis aerial photo, taken during construction of the project, shows more accuratelythe nature of the disrup...
Mars Hill, MaineThis aerial photo, from Google Earth, shows the full extent of the disruption to themountaintop clearly. T...
Kibby Mountain, MaineNote the massive scale of the road beds here (those are full size trees along theroads, not bushes). ...
Kibby Mountain, Maine                        36
Searsburg, VTThis is Vermont’s only operating wind project, constructed through what was a pristinenational forest ridge l...
Tararua, New Zealand (clearing for a 3 MW Turbine)                                                     38
Summary of Impacts• Industrial scale roads and clearings down the  entirety of the ridges  – Extensive blasting and bulldo...
This photo shows what it means tosite wind in Iowa, at least in termsof land impacts. The land impactsare generally much l...
Side Note: On the Performance of Searsburg,and the Selling Off of its Renewable Credits•   The average “capacity factor” o...
Side Note: On the Performance of Searsburg,and the Selling Off of its Renewable Credits•   Selling of the RECs out-of-stat...
Powering Vermont with Wind Power?• It is true that providing much of Vermont’s power with  wind power is possible. This is...
What percentages are being proposed?• Proponents of wind development in Vermont  often state that they are only pursuing p...
What would be required to provide just20% of Vermont’s Power with Wind• Vermont consumes about 6000 gigawatt-hours per  ye...
What would be required to provide 100%of Vermont’s Power with Wind• 2500 MW of wind• This implies about 40 projects of the...
Visual Impact of Turbines• Are Turbines “magnificent” as some claim? How do people  really perceive these devices over the...
Vermont Brand Study• Commissioned by the Vermont State Department of  Tourism• This study thoroughly surveyed the attitude...
49     49
50     50
Top Three words:     “Unspoiled,      Beautiful,     Mountains”(note that “mountains” is first noun         in the ranked ...
Vermont Brand Study• Conclusion: The Vermont Brand Study clearly  suggests that people who vacation in Vermont  deeply val...
Precautionary Principle• The precautionary principle states that in  situations where there is a lack of consensus  about ...
54
55
Impacts on Birds Vermont’s mountains are also home to many  species of songbirds. “Breeding bird surveys have shown that...
Impacts on Birds Mountain ridges generate updrafts used by  migrating raptors. (From: Bildstein 2006).                   ...
Impacts on Birds Claims to the effect that wind turbines have a  negligible impact on birds generally look only  at impac...
Impacts to Bats An endangered species of bat does live in Vermont  (Myotis Sodalis) Myotis Sodalis sounds are difficult ...
Impacts to Bats Recently, Vermonts Endangered Species  Committee and Fish & Wildlife Department  recommended to the Secre...
Impacts to Bats Bats in general are under great stress in the  Northeast, due to White Nose Syndrome. Bats can be killed...
Impacts to Bats•   How are bat mortality issues being handled in Vermont in wind project    permitting?•   Not well. The g...
Impacts to Bats• In a petition to list two bat species as endangered,  the Center for Biological Diversity cited research ...
General Impacts to Wilderness, Wildlife Habitat Fragmentation    The Valleys and many other areas are already highly    ...
Noise and Health Low-frequency noise, including “infrasonic” noise,  from wind turbines may in fact be affecting the heal...
”The noise generated by wind turbines is ratherunusual, containing high levels (over 90 dB SPL) ofvery low frequency sound...
Impacts of Solar Relative to Wind• The impacts of solar development are not  comparable at all to wind development. Solar ...
68
69
Solar Resource in Vermont?• Vermont has about 1.2 million acres of farmland, which  constitutes about 20% of the state (se...
Solar Resource in Vermont? Specifically, taking into account that a 1 kilowatt PV produces about 3 kWh/day on average, and...
Cost of Photovoltaics• The levelized cost of PV power is rapidly approaching “grid parity”,  that is, the point at which P...
PV Cost TrendPV is on track to become fully competitive by 2015.                                                      73
74
Costs of Wind versus Solar•   Wind power has huge hidden costs for transmission:•   “A conservative goal for 5,500 megawat...
Diversion of resources to wind• Imagine what the impact would be on distributed  solar power development if the tens of bi...
Division of Communities• Wind development has and is creating enormous  divisiveness in communities throughout Vermont,  a...
Solar vs. WindLocal vs. Centralized Decision MakingDistributed Solar                        Industrial Wind Can be sited ...
The Trouble with Solar (Utility)The Benefits of Solar (Consumer)Wind Generation and Distribution         Solar Generation ...
Vermont Carbon Footprint (2008)Thousands of tons per year Gasoline/Diesel                                                 ...
Heating Fuels in VermontPercent                     Electricity Wood, Other                     5                10       ...
An Optimal Plan for Reducing VermontsCarbon Footprint?          2010 – 2015                        2015 Forward Internal ...
Vermont’s Existing RenewableEnergy Policies Strong Renewable Energy Targets for utilities No targets for homeowners or b...
The End          84
Why Utility Scale Wind Power is Wrong for Vermont By Ben Luce, Ph.D.
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Why Utility Scale Wind Power is Wrong for Vermont By Ben Luce, Ph.D.

  1. 1. Wind Power in Vermont? Ben Luce, Ph.D Email: ben.luce@lyndonstate.edu Version: March 21, 2011
  2. 2. IntroductionThis presentation presents several argumentsto the effect that utility-scale wind powerdevelopment on mountainous ridge lines isnot a desirable or needed form of renewableenergy generation. 1
  3. 3. IntroductionThree basic arguments are presented:• The environmental and aesthetic impacts of ridge line wind are very great relative to the amount of power produced.• Ridge line wind resources are not actually a significant renewable energy resource to begin with.• There are much more appropriate alternatives, such as solar energy, and, closely related to this: – A primary focus on development of the alternatives is necessary anyway, precisely because ridge line wind resources are so limited, and: – Focusing on ridge line wind development will divert considerable resources away from and therefore hamper the renewable energy development that is actually most needed. 2
  4. 4. Introduction• Some common justifications for utility-scale wind development in Vermont are: – Mitigation of Climate Change – Reduction of dependence on foreign energy resources – Local job creation opportunity – Problems with and the potential closure of the Yankee Nuclear Power Plant 3
  5. 5. Introduction• All of these justifications have merit, but are indirect: They do not address the question of whether wind power in particular is the appropriate solution in Vermont.• Some proponents of ridge line wind assert that “we need it all”, that is, all possible renewable energy development. This simplistic assertion does not withstand a careful consideration of the actual potential for wind generation in the Eastern US, or the potential and prospects for alternatives to wind power, or the potential negative consequences of ridge line wind development on both the environment and the progress of renewable energy development in general. 4
  6. 6. Introduction• Other common arguments or claims in support of wind development in Vermont include: – There are no viable alternatives – All sources have impacts – There is no silver bullet – wind should play a part – Vermont’s lands are a “working landscapes” – People will grow to like the way turbines look, or at least get used to the impacts after awhile. – The environmental impacts are acceptable – The mountaintops can be restored adequately laterThese arguments also do not withstand a carefulconsideration of the facts. 5
  7. 7. IntroductionThe drivers for wind development in Vermont today are:• Genuine public support for wind.• A short-term outlook on renewable energy cost trends.• Federal incentives for clean energy development.• State Legislation setting renewable energy targets for utilities, with a strong bias towards large sources.• A singular emphasis on electricity in Vermont clean energy circles, as opposed to a more balanced focus on the actual primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel/nuclear dependence in Vermont.• Policies such as strong renewable energy targets for utilities with little emphasis on small-scale generation, and the ability of utilities to sell Renewable Energy Credits out-of-state, while the state simultaneously tolerates allowing utilities to represent to their customers that they are also receiving the same renewable energy.• Wholly inadequate support for alternatives to wind: Vermont’s incentives for photovoltaics, for example, are presently very weak, inconsistent, and very user-unfriendly. 6
  8. 8. IntroductionGenuine, major, technical problems with wind generationexist (in the presenter’s opinion):• Impacts on birds, bats, bears, and other wildlife. These have not been adequately mitigated, and may never be, especially where very extensive wind development is concerned, due to the intrinsic nature of wind generation.• Noise impacts, especially low-frequency noise.• Aesthetic impacts, and the corresponding impacts on Vermont’s eco-tourism based economy and overall environmental valuing of the land.• Cost of wind power in comparison with alternatives, that is, when the full cost of transmission is included, and also in comparison with the cost trends of alternatives such as solar.• A simple lack of wind resources: Onshore wind in the Eastern US is simply not a large renewable energy resource. Alternatives not only exist, but will have to carry the day in the long run anyway. 7
  9. 9. IntroductionThe “intermittency issue” (in the presenter’s opinion):• Claimed problems with “integrating” wind power on the grid, for example, those associated with “firming” wind power with natural gas fired generation, are perhaps over-stated by critics of wind generation, although it must be acknowledged that convincing rebuttals of these claims with detailed system performance data have not been forth-coming from the utility industry or grid operators. In any case, it is the presenter’s opinion that energy storage will eventually overcome intermittency issues with wind and solar.• On the other hand, the relatively low “capacity factors” of wind generation - around 33% at good sites and probably significantly less in Vermont – do mean that 3-4 times the peak capacity in wind generation is needed to displace a given amount of conventional generation. This has severe consequences for how much environmental and aesthetic impact wind generation must incur to offset a given amount of conventional generation. This then is the real issue with wind’s intermittency: It means that ridge line wind, in particular, turns out to be an extremely high impact renewable energy source relative to its energy project, not unlike large hydro, or many conventional energy resources. 8
  10. 10. Climate Change and US Energy Policy• The following graphs, and a great deal of other data, make it abundantly clear that the climate crises is real.• Massive reductions in greenhouse gases are needed.• Some steps are being taken in the US, but even the current round of clean energy incentives falls far short of the mark: US energy policy is a mess.• Smaller scale distributed generation, such as small- scale solar, is being drastically under-emphasized, although it has the best long-term potential, because: – It has the largest physical potential to meet the demand for energy, and can do so with minimal environmental and aesthetic impact. – The potential cost reductions in the technology are great. – Distributed generation actually decreases the need for new transmission and distribution infrastructure, unlike utility-scale wind development. 9
  11. 11. Temperature and CO2 levels are tightly correlated,and human activity has dramatically boosted CO2 levels, essentially overnight in geological terms: 10
  12. 12. Global Climate Models (GCMs) reproduce 20th century warming accurately & appear to confirm human (anthropogenic) role: Human created forcings alone (suchNatural forcings alone (such as solar) as CO2 emissions) do account well forcannot account for the large the large temperature rise in thetemperature rise in the latter 20th latter 20th CenturyCentury. Natural forcings onlyaccount for a slight upwards All forcings together account well fortemperature trend between about the overall temperature anomaly1890 and 1960. curve during 20th Century
  13. 13. Wind Generation Outlook• Wind power is a moderately mature technology, and is expanding rapidly world wide.• Many large-scale projects in Vermont have already been proposed (See next slide). At least ten are active, ranging from projects in the formative stage to those in advanced stages of installation. One has been in operation for 13 years (Searsburg). 12
  14. 14. 13
  15. 15. The Department of Energy has a plan for 300 gigawatts(equivalent to 120,000 2.5 megawatt turbines) by 2030.Pressure to build wind in Vermont and surroundingstates will not likely ebb anytime soon. 14
  16. 16. Wind Resource Overview• Virtually all of the US commercially viable wind resource is offshore and in the Midwest.• As the coming slides establish, the Eastern US has only enough onshore wind resource to offset about 17 gigawatts of conventional generation at very best, and probably substantially less than this is in practice. More than half of this potential is in New York (so the onshore resource is not even well distributed in the East).• Compare: Total electricity consumption in the US is equivalent to 450 gigawatts of conventional generation operating 24/7. And electricity consumption accounts for only about 1/3 of US CO2 emissions.• Conclusion: Total potential for onshore Eastern wind power to reduce US CO2 emissions works out to be about 2% at best, and probably half of this or less in practice. Even just some modest efficiency measures could save far more than this resource can provide. Onshore wind power in the Eastern US is not a significant renewable energy resource. 15
  17. 17. AvailableU.S. Wind Resources Resources Nearly all of the U.S. wind resources are located in the center of the country and offshore 16
  18. 18. Relative Ranking of State Wind ResourcesSource: Dept. of Energy’s “Wind Powering America” program. These estimates include certainobvious land exclusions. Further exclusion would likely occur in practice with greater scrutiny.CapacityRanking State 1901 1 Texas 2 Kansas 952 3 Montana 944 4 Nebraska 918 5 South Dakota 818 6 North Dakota 770 7 Iowa 570 Vermont has 8 Wyoming 552 th Less than 1/3,000th 9 Oklahoma 517 of 10 New Mexico 492 US Wind Resource . . Potential 25 Maine 11.3 29 Pennsylvania 3.3 27 Vermont 2.9 30 New Hampshire 2.1 31 West Virginia 1.9 33 Virginia 1.8 34 Maryland 1.5 35 Massachusetts 1.0 17
  19. 19. Comparing Vermont’s Wind Resourcewith a Typical Midwest State, or Offshore• It is instructive to compare Vermont’s wind resource directly to that of, say, Iowa, or with the wind resource of the coast of Maine (closer to home).• See following slides• The stark differences are due to the fact that Vermont’s commercial resource lies only on narrow, widely separated ridges. Note that this implies (incidentally) that there can be little or no flexibility in siting wind generation in Vermont, if a significant fraction of Vermont’s resource is to be developed.• If a significant amount of Vermont’s wind resource is not to be developed, then the contribution of Vermont’s wind resource to addressing climate change or other issues is utterly negligible. 18
  20. 20. Wind Resource ComparisonIn gigawatts (Note: This data is also from NREL, but this time with no obvious land exclusions, so thatthe estimates for Iowa and Vermont are somewhat higher than on the previous slide) Iowa 600 Gulf of Maine 150 Vermont 6  Iowa has more than 100x Vermonts wind resource  Gulf of Maine has 25x Vermonts wind resource  Even with no exclusions, Vermont possesses less than one half of one- thousandth ( 0.05%) of the onshore United States wind resource 19
  21. 21. Iowa vs. Vermont (approximately to scale) Iowas worst areas for wind potential exceed the potential of Vermonts best potential areas Iowas wind resources are widely dispersed Vermonts (rather poor) resources are concentrated on, and largely limited to, her high elevation ridgelines
  22. 22. Iowa Iowa is mainly laid out in a grid, right down to the cornfield level. Siting wind here is relatively easy, notwithstanding issues with noise, birds, bats, etc. Note that the latter might still severely impede wind development, even in Iowa, although Iowa already has more wind generation than will (can) ever be sited in Vermont. 21
  23. 23. Add it All Up: How much wind power could be obtained from onshore Eastern Wind Resources Overall?• Eastern US onshore wind resources, as estimated by NREL (unlisted states have little or no potential), in peak gigawatts (GW): – New York: 25.6 GW – Maine : 11.3 GW – Pennsylvania: 3.3 GW – Vermont: 2.9 GW – New Hampshire: 2.1 GW – Virginia: 1.8 GW – West Virginia: 1.9 GW – Maryland: 1.5 GW – MA: 1.0 GW• Total: 52 GW (50% of this in NY)• Equivalent to just 17.6 GW of conventional generation (at best – assuming a 34% capacity factor – actual factors are probably significantly less on average in the East)• US electricity consumption is equivalent to 450 GW (continuous)• It follows that Eastern wind would/could provide less than 4% of US electricity demand• Factoring in that electricity generation accounts for approximately 34% of US greenhouse gas emissions, it follows that eastern onshore wind generation would reduce US emissions by less than 2% even if completely developed, probably less the 1% if largely developed.• Vermont’s entire wind resource would reduce US emissions by less than 0.1% even if completely developed.
  24. 24. < 0.1% CO2 Reduction Potential < 2% CO2> 100% CO2 Reduction Potential Reduction Potential 23
  25. 25. Wind Resource Conclusions• Ridge line wind is simply not a major renewable energy source in the Eastern US.• Offshore wind MIGHT BE a significant if the environmental impacts of hundreds of thousands of turbines offshore proves to be acceptable (no such conclusion can be drawn at present).• Virtually all of the renewable energy in the Eastern US, if a transition to renewables ever occurs, will have to come from some combination of offshore wind, Midwest wind, solar, deep geothermal, or “ocean power”. All the rest (small hydro, biomass, ridge line wind, cow power etc), are essentially negligible, all some of these can assist with other problems, such as cow power’s ability to reduce methane and surface water pollution. 24
  26. 26. Wind Resource Consequences• These resource considerations alone of course do not imply that the more negligible sources, such small hydro, biomass, ridge line wind, etc, also aren’t worth developing. The answer to this question depends also on the merits of those particular sources. Some may very well be worth while, and can yield side benefits, such as already mentioned reductions in surface water and methane pollution in “cow power”.• But the small size of these small resources does mean that they will never contribute significantly to mitigating climate change or other major energy issues, and therefore that it cannot be argued that they are “essential” for these purposes. To invoke such a justification implies an overall dearth of renewable energy resources with serious potential to address these issues, which in turn would logically undermine the entire notion that a transition to renewables is even possible.• The claim that ridge line wind power is essential to addressing climate change and other issues is therefore manifestly false. Whether its still desirable or not is a different question that depends on the impacts it 25 incurs relative to the power it will provide.
  27. 27. Wind versus Solar• The solar energy resource in the Eastern US is hundreds of times larger than the commercial wind resource, even when the conversion efficiencies (~15%) of photovoltaics are taken into account.• Under realistic exclusions in Vermont, such as limiting solar collection to just a few percent of the open (non-forested areas) in Vermont, the “developable” solar resource is still at least several times larger than the wind resource.• More importantly, the solar resource is available throughout the Eastern United States. Solar is really the ONLY onshore renewable energy resource in the Eastern US of any real consequence, aside from deep geothermal, and there is little reason to believe that the latter will be cost effective in the near term.• Other aspects of solar generation are covered later in the presentation. 26
  28. 28. Impacts of Ridge Line Wind DevelopmentSome proponents of ridge line wind development resortto the blanket statement that “All sources have impacts”in their defense of wind.In fact, ridge line wind generation has much greaterimpacts overall than wind generation in open, flatareas, and much greater impacts of all kinds incomparison with (properly sited) solar generation.The following slides illustrate these points visually.Impacts include aesthetic, environmental, auditory, andeconomic.
  29. 29. On the same scale as the mountains themselves: (Size-accurate simulation from a proposed site in MA: Very apropos to Vermont) 29
  30. 30. (Size-accurate Simulation : Susie’s Peak in Clarendon, VT )
  31. 31. (Size Accurate Simulation: Poultney, VT) 31
  32. 32. Mars Hill, MaineThis photo shows how developers often portray their projects, if they portray ridge linewind projects at all. Note that this photo is taken from a long distance away, and from alow angle. This effectively hides the roads and clearings, for the most part, and createsthe impression that the turbines are nestled in among the trees. 32
  33. 33. Mars Hill, MaineThis aerial photo, taken during construction of the project, shows more accuratelythe nature of the disruption to the topography. Note the scale of the project: thoseare full size trees around the clearing. The disruption is very great, and permanent. 33
  34. 34. Mars Hill, MaineThis aerial photo, from Google Earth, shows the full extent of the disruption to themountaintop clearly. This mountaintop is now an industrial site.
  35. 35. Kibby Mountain, MaineNote the massive scale of the road beds here (those are full size trees along theroads, not bushes). 35
  36. 36. Kibby Mountain, Maine 36
  37. 37. Searsburg, VTThis is Vermont’s only operating wind project, constructed through what was a pristinenational forest ridge line. These turbines are small compared with the multi-megawattturbines being proposed today. 37
  38. 38. Tararua, New Zealand (clearing for a 3 MW Turbine) 38
  39. 39. Summary of Impacts• Industrial scale roads and clearings down the entirety of the ridges – Extensive blasting and bulldozing – Hundreds to thousands of truckloads of fill – Permanent, levelized, 500 foot diameter clearings• Strong visual impacts• Impacts to wildlife• Noise 39
  40. 40. This photo shows what it means tosite wind in Iowa, at least in termsof land impacts. The land impactsare generally much lower. 40
  41. 41. Side Note: On the Performance of Searsburg,and the Selling Off of its Renewable Credits• The average “capacity factor” of the Searsburg project over its 13 year lifetime has only been 22.4%, or about 2/3 of what is generally considered to be a good commercial wind power site.• Nonetheless, in 2010 the winds were a bit above average, enabling the facility to achieve a one-time annual capacity factor of about 27.8%. Green Mountain Power trumpeted this, and also proclaimed in a press release that "In its 13 years of continuous operation, the Searsburg facility has demonstrated that wind power works in Vermont”, and also that "Our success at Searsburg encouraged us to propose the Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell of up to 63 megawatts, which is now undergoing review by Vermonts regulators." The actual capacity factors of the project, however, suggest that the project is basically unsuccessful.• In the same press release, GMP stated that “At six cents per kilowatt-hour, GMP Searsburg wind has been a cost-effective way for us to provide our customers with renewable energy.“ Unfortunately, GMP omitted mentioning that they have been selling the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for this project out-of-state, meaning that their customers in Vermont have not been receiving renewable energy from this project in any meaningful sense. (GMP admitted they are selling the RECs for Searsburg in their testimony on the proposed Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell, VT, before the Public Service Board of Vermont). 41
  42. 42. Side Note: On the Performance of Searsburg,and the Selling Off of its Renewable Credits• Selling of the RECs out-of-state, while informing customers that they are receiving the renewable power in Vermont, is “double-counting”, and fundamentally undermines the meaning and integrity of the RECs. This is because it will likely result in less renewable energy development overall.• This practice also gives Vermonter’s a false impression of the cost of wind power relative to alternatives, and thereby undermines the development of alternatives to wind.• While this practice is occurring in Vermont, the state is also not enabling utilities to purchase the RECs associated with small, distributed renewable energy systems, thereby missing a sensible and cost effective way for utility customers to support the development of alternatives to wind generation in Vermont. 42
  43. 43. Powering Vermont with Wind Power?• It is true that providing much of Vermont’s power with wind power is possible. This is because Vermont is one of the few Eastern States with at least some significant wind power, and because Vermont’s load is so small in comparison to other states.• But even the impact of just meeting a significant fraction of Vermont’s load with wind would have very significant impacts to the state, and even with all this, the total contribution to reducing US greenhouse gas emissions would still basically be negligible.• The next few slides explore what would be required to produce certain percentages of Vermont’s electric power with utility scale wind. 43
  44. 44. What percentages are being proposed?• Proponents of wind development in Vermont often state that they are only pursuing producing a certain fraction of Vermont’s electricity with wind power, with figures ranging anywhere from about 10% up to 40%.• It should be noted that there are no statutory limits on how much will be or could be developed, and no proponent has the power to enforce a given limit anyway. 44
  45. 45. What would be required to provide just20% of Vermont’s Power with Wind• Vermont consumes about 6000 gigawatt-hours per year: Equivalent to slightly under 700 megawatts of conventional generation running 24/7.• Assume a capacity factor of 28% (the best year of the Searsburg project):• Megawatts of wind needed = .2*700/.28 = 500 MW• This implies about 8 projects of the Lowell Project size (Lowell is a 63 MW project)• Most projects would be somewhat smaller, so 10-12 would likely be needed• Conclusion: 10-12 entire “mountain systems” would be needed just to provide 20% of Vermont’s electricity, or well under 10% of Vermont’s total energy consumption. 45
  46. 46. What would be required to provide 100%of Vermont’s Power with Wind• 2500 MW of wind• This implies about 40 projects of the Lowell Project size• Most projects would be somewhat smaller, so about 50 would likely be needed• Conclusion: 50 entire “mountain systems” would be needed just to provide 100% of Vermont’s electricity.• The would require approximately 150 miles or ridge line: Equivalent to the length of Vermont.• Vermont’s entire electrical demand is equivalent to the output of a single large power plant: All of this wind generation would still be an essentially negligible contribution to reducing US greenhouse emissions overall. 46
  47. 47. Visual Impact of Turbines• Are Turbines “magnificent” as some claim? How do people really perceive these devices over the long term?• Will people perceive them as magnificent in locations that were formally considered to be extremely natural, unspoiled, scenic places?• What happens after the novelty wears off, or as people get used to seeing turbines in many places?• What happens if wind power becomes decidedly unpopular due to its impacts?• How will they be perceived specifically in the context of Vermont?• How much income will Vermont lose due to loss of its “unspoiled character”? 47
  48. 48. Vermont Brand Study• Commissioned by the Vermont State Department of Tourism• This study thoroughly surveyed the attitudes of nearly 1000 people who vacation in Vermont• Available at: http://www.vermontpartners.org/• As one component, the study investigated what images and what words that people who vacation in Vermont feel describe Vermont. It accomplished this by having people rank various sets of images and words in terms of how well they describe Vermont.• The next two slides show excerpts from the Branding Study. 48
  49. 49. 49 49
  50. 50. 50 50
  51. 51. Top Three words: “Unspoiled, Beautiful, Mountains”(note that “mountains” is first noun in the ranked list) 51
  52. 52. Vermont Brand Study• Conclusion: The Vermont Brand Study clearly suggests that people who vacation in Vermont deeply value the unspoiled character of the State (and the mountains in particular).• This is not a far-fetched suggestion.• A large fraction of Vermont’s economy, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, depends on income associated with vacationers and also second home owners. 52
  53. 53. Precautionary Principle• The precautionary principle states that in situations where there is a lack of consensus about whether a proposed activity has acceptable risks, the burden of proof should fall on those who propose the activity.• Proponents of utility scale wind in Vermont have provided little or no evidence that wind power development in the state will not have an extremely adverse impact on the State’s eco- tourism based economy, or its image in general of an unspoiled, natural place. 53
  54. 54. 54
  55. 55. 55
  56. 56. Impacts on Birds Vermont’s mountains are also home to many species of songbirds. “Breeding bird surveys have shown that the forests of Vermont and Northern New England are a globally important resource for birds throughout the hemisphere”  From: Audubon Vermont http://vt.audubon.org/conservationNews.html 56
  57. 57. Impacts on Birds Mountain ridges generate updrafts used by migrating raptors. (From: Bildstein 2006). 57
  58. 58. Impacts on Birds Claims to the effect that wind turbines have a negligible impact on birds generally look only at impacts to global populations, and do not consider local ecosystem impacts in general. They also do not address what may happen if hundreds to thousands of gigawatts of wind generation is developed. 58
  59. 59. Impacts to Bats An endangered species of bat does live in Vermont (Myotis Sodalis) Myotis Sodalis sounds are difficult to distinguish, so that impacts to this species are hard to quantify. 59
  60. 60. Impacts to Bats Recently, Vermonts Endangered Species Committee and Fish & Wildlife Department recommended to the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) that the little brown bat and northern long-eared bats be listed as endangered. http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20110 202/NEWS02/102020313/As-bats-die-off-Vermont- panel-seeks-endangered-status 60
  61. 61. Impacts to Bats Bats in general are under great stress in the Northeast, due to White Nose Syndrome. Bats can be killed when simply flying close to turbine blades from decompression effects. Some ridge line wind projects have been shown to have very large bat kill rates. The impact on bats of significant wind generation in Vermont could be very great, with correspondingly large impacts to Vermont’s ecosystems overall. 61
  62. 62. Impacts to Bats• How are bat mortality issues being handled in Vermont in wind project permitting?• Not well. The group “Vermonters for a Clean Environment “, states that “The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with wind developers of three other sites in Vermont in an attempt to reduce bat mortality, but these agreements are not sufficiently protective. The MOU that ANR signed with developers of the Lowell wind project is instructive. The MOU attempts to limit bat mortality by setting a minimum "cut in speed," or speed the turbine must spin before operations can begin, of 3-4 meters per second (mps). Under cross-examination in the PSBs technical hearings for Lowell, Adam Gravel of Stantec testified that the cut-in speed must be at least 5 mps to reduce bat fatalities. He also testified that bats highest vulnerability is between April 1st and October 15th of each year. Yet the Lowell MOU permits over half of the turbines to continue to operate with cut in speeds too low to prevent any bat mortality.” 62
  63. 63. Impacts to Bats• In a petition to list two bat species as endangered, the Center for Biological Diversity cited research that has found that "Bats are killed in significant numbers by utility-scale wind energy facilities, with the greatest number of fatalities occurring along forested ridge tops in the eastern United States (Kunz et al. 2007)." http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/bat_c risis_white-nose_syndrome/pdfs/petition- Myotisleibii-Myotisseptentrionalis.pdf 63
  64. 64. General Impacts to Wilderness, Wildlife Habitat Fragmentation  The Valleys and many other areas are already highly developed, fragmented. Are we now going to incur similar impacts to the mountain environments as well? Vermont is a working landscape, but most of the “work” taking place in the mountains does not dramatically degrade the mountains aesthetically or environmentally. Wind generation will. Environmental pressures on our mountain environments are increasing in general:  Climate Change  Invasive species  Development 64
  65. 65. Noise and Health Low-frequency noise, including “infrasonic” noise, from wind turbines may in fact be affecting the health of people in the near vicinity of turbines: Peer-reviewed research:  “Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines”  Hearing Research, Volume 268, Issues 1-2, 1 September 2010, Pages 12-21  Alec N. Salt, a, and Timothy E. Hullara  a Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, Box 8115, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA See summary at http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/windmill.html 65
  66. 66. ”The noise generated by wind turbines is ratherunusual, containing high levels (over 90 dB SPL) ofvery low frequency sound (infrasound). 66
  67. 67. Impacts of Solar Relative to Wind• The impacts of solar development are not comparable at all to wind development. Solar does not require clearing of forest, blasting, etc. In many cases solar can be roof-mounted. Even large “solar orchards” utilize existing fields, and are even compatible with some forms of agriculture. There are also numerous open areas that are well out of view and wholly appropriate for solar orchards. 67
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  70. 70. Solar Resource in Vermont?• Vermont has about 1.2 million acres of farmland, which constitutes about 20% of the state (see http://www.ers.usda.gov/statefacts/VT.HTM)• It’s reasonable to assume that about 1% of this, or about 12,000 acres, could be dedicated to solar energy collection. Much of this could be done on roofs, small systems in backyards, on car ports. Much of the rest could be done in out-of-the-way municipal sites (many such sites exist in Vermont). Only some would need to be sited in fields that might otherwise be used for agriculture, and some forms of agriculture are compatible with “solar orchards”.• But in any case, a collection area of 1% is solidly conservative number to assume for solar generation, to prevent the generation from having adverse impacts.• This is enough to power Vermont comfortably. 70
  71. 71. Solar Resource in Vermont? Specifically, taking into account that a 1 kilowatt PV produces about 3 kWh/day on average, and has a collector area of about 8 m2, it can be calculated that a total collection area of 11,000 acres would provide the equivalent of Vermont’s entire electricity consumption: Area needed = 6000 gigawatt-hours /(3 kWh/[kilowatt – day] x 365 days x [1 gigawatt-hour/106 kWh] x 1 kilowatt/8 m2 x 4047 m2/acre) = 10,831 acres This figure is conservative: Optimal PV systems today can already produce closer to 4 kWh/day on average per kilowatt, and future systems with higher efficiencies will likely produce upwards of 5 kWh/day or even higher. So the ultimate land area will likely be less. 71
  72. 72. Cost of Photovoltaics• The levelized cost of PV power is rapidly approaching “grid parity”, that is, the point at which PV power will equal typical retail electricity prices. PV costs need to reach $3-4/watt installed to reach grid parity in most places in the US. Current costs range from about $6/watt and up, depending on system type and capacity.• After grid parity is reached, PV will likely expand massively, bringing the cost down further through a combination of technological improvements, competition, and economies of scale.• The next two slides show two different summaries of PV cost trends. The first is from Immanual Sachs at MIT, and shows the trends for cost per kilowatt-hour. The second is from PV industry Paula Mints, and shows the price trend of modules. The “grid parity” projection shown here was created by the presenter using a “least squares” fit to the data. The data for “large buyers” is shown as this best reflects the trends of the underlying manufacturing costs, which are generally (but not necessarily always) somewhat less than the retail costs. 72
  73. 73. PV Cost TrendPV is on track to become fully competitive by 2015. 73
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  75. 75. Costs of Wind versus Solar• Wind power has huge hidden costs for transmission:• “A conservative goal for 5,500 megawatts of wind power and 3,000 megawatts of hydro power through 2030 would carry transmission costs of between $7 billion and $12 billion” – Gordon van Welie, president and chief executive officer of ISO New England Inc. – From “New England grid chief: Cooperate on wind power”, by David Sharp, Associated Press Writer, August 16, 2010.• These costs will increase the cost of these renewables very significantly.• Ridge line wind power is already a relatively expensive form of wind power, costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $.10/kWh.• It is therefore not clear that ridge line wind power has a strong cost advantage over solar, especially when the longer term cost trends are considered: Wind power will also not likely decrease much in cost, due to the intrinsic costs of steel, cement, copper, specialized magnets, etc, that wind technology requires. (In fact wind power has increased in cost in recent years – technological advances have on partially offset the rising costs of cement, steel, copper, and magnets).• Solar on the other hand has the potential to continue to decrease dramatically in cost as thin film technologies emerge, and as new breakthroughs lead to higher efficiencies.• The cost of utility scale wind power should also not be directly compared with solar. Solar effectively competes with retail power prices, and actually decreases the need for transmission lines. 75
  76. 76. Diversion of resources to wind• Imagine what the impact would be on distributed solar power development if the tens of billions of (ratepayer provided) funds presently contemplated for wind development in the Eastern US were devoted instead to solar.• In the long run, most of the renewable energy will have to come from solar or offshore wind anyway. So why not focus now on the sources that will really make a difference? 76
  77. 77. Division of Communities• Wind development has and is creating enormous divisiveness in communities throughout Vermont, and will likely continue to do so.• Is this really the social context in which renewable energy should be advanced?• Is not this divisiveness a potential threat to the development of renewable energy as a whole? 77
  78. 78. Solar vs. WindLocal vs. Centralized Decision MakingDistributed Solar Industrial Wind Can be sited in a much greater  Sizing options limited number of places  Requires a much larger investment, Very Scalable intrusion and minimum efficient Can be implemented at very local scale. Scale is key to project level economics  Household  Commercial implementation limited  Neighborhood to large scale, utility or state  Town sponsored projects Which is more in keeping with Vermonts tradition of civic decision making and stewardship? 78
  79. 79. The Trouble with Solar (Utility)The Benefits of Solar (Consumer)Wind Generation and Distribution Solar Generation and Distribution Wind requires industrial scale  Solar can be scaled down to the development household level Wind requires transmission into grid  Solar need not enter the grid and to the consumer  Direct use Utilities generate revenue through  Battery storage  Generation  Small to no opportunity for utility  Distribution generation or distribution revenue 79
  80. 80. Vermont Carbon Footprint (2008)Thousands of tons per year Gasoline/Diesel 672 Heating Oil 446 Propane 126 Natural Gas 105 Electricity ~50  Carbon impacts from gasoline and oil far outweigh the carbon impact of electricity.  Why are we focused so narrowly on electricity in Vermont? 80
  81. 81. Heating Fuels in VermontPercent Electricity Wood, Other 5 10  85% of Vermonts heating is based on fossil fuelsNaturalGas 12  Nearly equal in carbon Fuel output to transportation 59 Oil fuel usage 14Propane  Only 10% biomass based 81
  82. 82. An Optimal Plan for Reducing VermontsCarbon Footprint? 2010 – 2015 2015 Forward Internal combustion vehicles  Continue efficiency and  Higher efficiency Vehicles conservation  Mass transit  Expand Photovoltaic build out Weatherization Biomass and Geothermal Plan for, and begin, Photovoltaic transition 82
  83. 83. Vermont’s Existing RenewableEnergy Policies Strong Renewable Energy Targets for utilities No targets for homeowners or businesses Weak and inconsistent incentives for small-scale renewables: Official PSB/utility solar prices appear to be exaggerated, creating a false impression of levelized solar power costs. Solar Business Tax Credit has been in Crises Wind Permitting geared toward centralized PSB decision making – Communities have essentially no actual say, just “input” – Environmental Guidelines can be over-ruled 83
  84. 84. The End 84

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