Saint Albans Messenger; October 10/11, 2015
Vermont needs a competitive, winning energy policy. Every winning team has to recruit good players. But our “management” only wants “players” (wind, solar) who perform a quarter of the time, but take up our precious resources such as mountain tops and open fields all of the time. And there is no room for doing it wrong either. Ridgeline roads and massive concrete pads will remain for years to come, even after the renewable source has proven to be uneconomical without taxpayer subsidies. The sight of open fields converted to black solar panels does not bring out Vermont pride in our beautiful state.
The renewable industry insists on this landscape makeover because Vermont lacks other instate options. Yet Vermont Yankee, a compact, well-operated, zero-smog nuclear power plant, once made a third of our power. This same industry, and its friends in Montpelier, made it feel extremely unwelcome. They succeeded to get rid of their best energy player.
But it is too late to change that decision, no matter how ill-conceived it was. Vermont can, at a relatively low cost, contract for more nuclear power from New England power plants. Also, it can soon get reliable, low-cost power from Canada, through the new cables that will run beneath Lake Champlain and across Vermont. We should demand a good power contract as part of the “toll” for using our land and waters. Every nuclear and Canadian hydro kilowatt is cheaper, more 24/7 reliable, and less destructive than clearing farmland and mountaintops. These choices are better than covering Vermont with ugly, intrusive, expensive energy factories that require taxpayer subsidies. Montpelier should evaluate cost-effective solutions, not just politically correct ones.