S.51 – The “Let’s Destroy the Economy” Bill

by Rob Roper

The Senate Natural Resources Committee is currently debating S.51 – An act relating to renewable energy goals for Vermont’s total energy consumption. This bill would codify into law the State’s current “goal” of getting 90% of all our energy from renewable sources by 2050. Even Tony Klien, the former Chair of the House Energy & Natural Resources committee and a true zealot on this topic, admitted that this is a pie in the sky proposition with little real possibility of being met.

However, S.51 incorporates another impossible element into this equation: severe overall reduction of energy consumption. The bill would require that Vermont reduce its total energy consumption from 2015 levels by 15% in 2025 ad 33% in 2050. This requires the question, how do you expect to grow the overall economy while at the same time placing such draconian restrictions on energy consumption – renewable or otherwise?

If this bill become law, would it then become somehow illegal for an energy intensive businesses, such as a large manufacturing operations, to set up shop in Vermont if doing so would interfere with this objective? Or, is that a moot point given that any energy intensive business would have no interest whatsoever in coming into a State that forces it to purchase energy at rates that are multiple times what the market calls for?

The other implication is that if some new technology comes into existence over the next 33 years that allows for abundant, cheap, reliable environmentally friendly energy production – fusion, or something so far unimagined – Vermonters would be prohibited from utilizing it beyond levels 33% below 2015’s total energy consumption. This is insane as well as short sighted.

Kill this bill before it kills our economy.

S.51’s sponsors are Senators Chris Bray (D-Addison), Clair Ayer (D-Addison), Rebecca Balint (D-Windham), Brian Campion (D-Bennington), Ginny Lyons (D-Burlington), Dick McCormack (D-Windsor), and Chris Pearson (P-Burlington).

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Allen Godin February 4, 2017 at 1:00 am

This is how tyranny expresses itself when left unchecked by the power of the People. The constitution does not allow any of this, and yet the People allow it to happen due to partisanship and ignorance. (Not mutually exclusive.)

I’m a Vermont native, and I’m physically sick of what has happened to this State in my lifetime. I’ve seen a healthy Vermont shrivel and sicken under the control of outside interests. Businesses are barely large enough to employ half of the people that were at work when I was a child in the early 70s. Those people didn’t have to travel 100 miles a day to a job either, they could work in their own communities and felt as though they were a part of their community instead of being part of a cultural experiment.

Shared values were part of what Vermont had in common with America, but just as the last 8 years have divided this nation, the last 40 years have rotted Vermont to the core, and now they want to deny us our very lives. Who will be able to live in an environment at only 66% the energy levels of 2015? Don’t forget that that includes homes, automobiles, and every other form of energy use. Need to mow your lawn? expect to do it only 66% of the time you could have in 2015. Want to watch TV? Expect to do it for 66% of the hours you could in 2015.

Maybe the higher rate of people leaving the State will leave Vermont with a small culture of elites who can afford to spend 33% less time enjoying their quiet second homes in a State now devoid of most services, unless that is held at current or higher levels by taxes shouldered by a smaller indigenous population of working class people not capable of electing their own representatives in the legislature, or for Governor of Lieutenant Governor thanks to the current acts in the Vermont legislature.

02/03/2017 An end to free elections has been enacted by a tyrannical one sided legislature on this very day. There used to be a way the People could resolve issues like this to the People’s satisfaction, but those rights have been trampled like the right of parents to raise their children according to the dictates of their religion and common moral values. Those “common” values are now whatever any person decides for themselves and those they’d dictate for others . That is, as long as they are in control of the State Legislature and the popular point of view.

Look to your ancestors children of woe. The lights are going out in Vermont.

Reply

SHAZZAM February 4, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Most interesting, seeing how many names affixed to this bill represent counties with access to the new gas pipeline ….. jus’ say’n

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H. Brooke Paige February 6, 2017 at 3:24 am

Wait, this “do-able” we could just shut off the electricity, gas and oil to all public buildings (excluding local schoolhouses). Since solar cannot supply these buildings with sufficient power, the state can start buying candles for lighting and wood stoves for those rooms where essential services are being conducted while instructing the state workers to bundle-up before coming to work.. Further, the state could invest in road-rollers to replace the snowplows and the State Police could turn in their cruisers for horses, Vermont Mounties has a really nostalgic ring to it !

There you go, problem solved Buttercups!

Why wait for 2050, let’s go for it now !

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William Hays February 7, 2017 at 12:42 am

Hmmm. Why do I now live in Montana, instead of Vermont? Could $0.0685/kWh residential electricity here be a factor? Vermont has the highest res elect rate in the conterminious 48 states. What say, Snowflakes?

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Jeanne Norris February 7, 2017 at 7:08 am

Great comments above!! Well said Mr Roper!! I just wish people who were making the choices we all don’t want would be reading this!!

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Ivan St George February 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm

We seem to be of like mind on these posts and the frustration is evident.
We need to turn this frustration into action by organizing and communicating through
local forums like front porch forum in your community.
You would be surprised at how many leftists camp out there and exert alot of influence on our neighbors.
Sharp concise posts send these people into a tizzy and open the door for fellow
citizens to not feel alone which in turn causes more posts.
I started In December with the EAI energy mandate video and it lit up the discussion boards and garnered many many kudos

Reply

Willem Post February 10, 2017 at 12:47 am

Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, states a goal of “90% RE of All Primary Energy by 2050”, from mostly home-grown renewables; electrical energy is about 35%* of all primary energy, No nation in the world, except Denmark, has such an extreme goal; Denmark is a special case, because of its proximity to Norway’s hydro plants to balance its wind energy.

* In 2011, the electricity supplied to Vermont utilities was 6119.1 GWh, or 20.88 TBtu. That electricity required about 50.8 TBtu of primary energy, for an average conversion factor of 20.88/50.8 = 0.41, per DPS 2013 Utility Facts Report. Vermont 2010 total primary energy was 147.6 TBtu, thus electricity was 50.8/147.6 = 34.4% of total primary energy.

It is much easier, and much less costly, for Vermont utilities to achieve an RPS goal of “90% RE for their electricity supply”, than it is for Vermonters to achieve the goal of “90% RE of All Primary Energy by 2050”.

The utilities merely would have contracts to buy RE from in-state and out-of-state producers, and pass any costs onto rate payers, per PSB approval.

Vermonters would have to make investments of about $33 BILLION during the 2017 – 2050 period, as estimated by the Energy Action Network. See below.

In the real world, almost all political entities have much lower RE goals for primary energy than Vermont.

Relatively few political entities have high RE goals for electrical energy. See below.
https://publicservice.vermont.gov/publications-resources/publications/energy_plan

“The Department of Public Service, DPS, in conjunction with other State agencies designated by the Governor, shall prepare a State Comprehensive Energy Plan covering at least a 20-year period”, per Vermont statute $202b. DPS, et al, arbitrarily selected the goal of “90% RE of All Energy by 2050”; a number pulled out of a hat without feasibility and cost analysis.

The DPS Rationale for 90% Goal: Recchia, head of DPS, stated during a public information hearing: “It does not matter what Vermont does, because it would not make any difference regarding climate change and global warming”. He is right. That goal should be reduced to a more affordable 50%, with the rest by means of increased energy efficiency, and increased purchases of hydro energy from Hydro-Quebec.

– Increased energy efficiency would be much better for Vermont, as it would decrease CO2, plus it would decrease the energy bills for already-struggling households and businesses.
– Increased purchases of steady, low-cost (about 6 – 7 c/kWh), low-CO2 emitting (least of all renewables), hydro energy from Hydro Quebec.

Both measures would be the lowest-cost and quickest way to reduce CO2, and would have minimal impact on the environment. They would be much better for Vermont, instead of additional, subsidized wind turbine systems on pristine ridgelines and solar systems in fertile meadows, which produce energy, that is:

– Variable; intermittent; grid disturbing; health damaging; property value-lowering; environment-damaging; social-discord-creating.
– Expensive at 3 – 5 times NE wholesale prices of 5 c/kWh.

NO Legal Requirement: There is no legal requirement for the 90% number, or any number. Thus far, after waiting for years, Vermonters have not received any rational explanation of why that goal was selected. That goal is greatly in excess of what other New England states have as their goals. See URL and below table.

Senator Bray introduced S.51, titled “Consolidated Clean Energy Planning and Economic Opportunity Act” This bill proposes: to establish a statutory goal, i.e., a MANDATE, that, by 2050, 90 percent of Vermont’s total energy consumption be from renewable energy. It also proposes to establish additional supporting goals and to require State plans that affect energy to recommend measures to achieve these goals.

This bill would be used by bureaucrats to coerce Vermonters to spend billion of dollars on various measures that would cause their energy consumption to decrease, but the cost of the remaining energy would be much higher (at least double of present costs), no matter what fancy studies VPIRG comes up with to “prove” otherwise*.

*VPIRG, financed by RE proponents of “90% RE of All Primary Energy by 2050” and the carbon tax, commissioned a study by REMI, a consultant, which provided VPIRG, legislators, et al, with a report with pretty photographs, a rosy pro-carbon tax rationale, and various talking points, to bamboozle voters regarding the merits of the carbon tax.

https://www.energyindependentvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/REMI_Final.pdf
https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2018/Docs/BILLS/S-0051/S-0051 As Introduced.pdfhttps://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/30/005/00202b

Huge Capital Requirements: According the Vermont Energy Action Network, EAN, implementing the CEP would require capital investments of at least $33.3 billion during the 2017 – 2050 period, or about $1.0 billion/year, not counting interest and finance charges, and replacements and refurbishments, due to wear and tear, during that period. See below URL Page 6 of annual report. That burden is far in excess of what the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy could afford.

Vermont is a relatively poor state with a stagnant population, but with a growing population of elderly people, and with state budget deficits year after year. The last thing Vermont households and businesses need is higher energy prices to make the Vermont economy even less competitive.

Reducing the 90% Goal: The arbitrary 90% goal should be reduced to about 30 – 40%, which still is a formidable task. That would be a more in line with other NE states. There would be no need for a regressive carbon tax.

https://eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/EAN-2015-Annual-Report-Low-Res-Final.pdf
https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/rps_summit_nov_2013.pdf

Renewable Portfolio Standards: RPS standards require utilities to have a percentage of their electricity supply from renewable sources. Two states, Hawaii and Vermont require much higher percentages than any other state in the US.

Hawaii is much closer to the equator, has steady trade winds and much sunshine, and has the highest electric rates in the US, unlike Vermont. The Hawaii goal is reasonable, but the Vermont goal is pure rah-rah and hutzpah, and economically unwise. See URLs and table.

– Hawaii requires: 30% RE by 2020, 40% by 2030, 70% by 2040, and 100% by 2045.
– Vermont requires: 55% RE by 2017, and 75% by 2032.

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=21852
https://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program/detail/1141

State RPS Goal, % Year Goal, % Year Goal, % Year
CT 27.0 2020
RI 14.5 2019 38.5 2035
ME 40.0 2017
NH 24.8 2025
MA* 15.0 2020
VT 55.0 2017 75.0 2032
HI 30.0 2020 40.0 2030 100 2045
*MA percent to increase by 1%/y after 2020

https://www.ncsl.org/research/energy/renewable-portfolio-standards.aspx
https://www.ncsl.org/research/energy/renewable-portfolio-standards.aspx#ma

Vermont utilities could satisfy the 75% requirement within a few years (well before 2032) by buying more hydro energy from Hydro-Quebec. It would require no subsidies and near-zero capital costs, because private corporations would design, build, own and operate the high voltage transmission lines from Quebec to Vermont. However, GMP, 77% of the Vermont market, is refusing to so.

Reply

Willem Post February 12, 2017 at 2:40 am

Bob Roper,

My above comment had some tables, but they became garbled.
Is there so way to repost so they are not garbled?

Reply

Charles Kafka July 28, 2017 at 7:33 am

the people behind this bill should hire a few legitimate engineers
to say how this will be accomplished, with the idea the technology will be improving,
and any deviation from this plan, will be because a better solution has become available.

Reply

Clayton January 29, 2018 at 4:51 pm

I concur with Mr. Godin’s comments, one of many more reasons as a native generational Vermonter I am moving to NH. Let’s see how long the liberal elites and trust fund babies can run the State when everyone with common sense moves out of the State. Thanks for driving a once self reliant independent minded state into a Big Brother Socialist welfare State.

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