$1.2 billion partial cost of transition to ‘Fortress Vermont’ 100% instate renewable energy

By Guy Page

For years, renewable electricity advocates have dreamed of powering Vermont with instate, renewable generation and power storage. Today, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee learned more about the likely costs of making that happen.

The figures are sobering: $1.2 billion over five years for just two of the many necessary changes.

Building a “Fortress Vermont” 100% instate renewable power-only system would cost more than $900 million in new back-up power storage costs alone, officials for Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) testified at the State House today about S.267, a renewable energy standard  bill.

Guy Page

Power storage is essential to any plan for 100% instate renewable power.

At present, much of Vermont’s electricity comes from natural gas and nuclear power, delivering power more-or-less on demand. So there’s not much need for electricity storage. But if Vermont transitions to “intermittent” solar and wind power, back-up electricity storage becomes crucially important. Depending on how much the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, intermittent power often supplies too much power or too little. The solution is to store unneeded power in batteries (or some other collector) and then dispatch it as needed.

But here’s the rub: grid-scale power storage is a new, developing, expensive technology — thus the estimated $900 million over five years.

That figure doesn’t include another $300 million lost when renewable power generation is “curtailed” — cut back — when supply exceeds demand on sunny, windy days. And on top of the $1.2 billion, ratepayers and/or taxpayers will need to foot the bill for grid improvements, extensive management of the power load, and the actual cost of producing more solar and wind power. At present, solar power is three to five times more expensive than the “market” power fueled mostly by natural gas and nuclear.

S.267 would require 100% total energy from renewable power by 2030. But utilities shouldn’t look north for more highly affordable Hydro Quebec hydro power. S.267 limits “big hydro” power to 33% of a utility’s total load. Twenty percent must be “distributed” power, meaning it is located, generated and distributed locally. Virtually all distributed power in Vermont is solar power. Nuclear power — although carbon-free — has long been specifically excluded as “renewable.”

Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex-Orleans) wondered why his two Northeast Kingdom counties are still being targeted for renewable power projects when the demand is on the west coast of  Vermont. “Developers are still proposing projects up there,” he said. “It makes my head explode. The whole idea of distributed energy was to build close to the consumers, so we didn’t have to build poles and wires.”

No action was taken on H.267 Friday.  It remains to be seen if the bill will progress further. If the Global Warming Solutions Act (H.688) becomes law, Vermont energy regulators might be required to aggressively pursue something like a 100% renewable power load. If so, Friday’s testimony gives Vermonters some idea of what H.688 could mean in real energy consumer dollars.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. The Vermont Daily Chronicle is a publication of True North Media.

Image courtesy of Public domain

14 thoughts on “$1.2 billion partial cost of transition to ‘Fortress Vermont’ 100% instate renewable energy

  1. FORTRESS VERMONT

    This covers the period of 2020 – 2025

    This FORTRESS scheme assumes, Vermont would become a PARTIAL electrical island.

    The folks running the FORTRESS would manage the variable, intermittent electricity of wind and solar systems, store some of the electricity for later use, and to avoid feeding too much into the VT grid during rare windy periods or rare sunny periods.

    In and out of battery storage has a loss of about 20%, on a HV to HV basis.
    In and out of LAES storage has a loss of about 30%, on a HV to HV basis.

    That means more wind/solar, more grid augmentation and extension, and more storage to offset the loss.

    Will FORTRESS managers be keeping connections to the NE grid, just in case

    This assumes the building of about 500 MW of wind turbines plus about 1000 MW of solar panels, at a cost of 500 x $2.5 million + 1000 x $3 million = $4.25 billion

    This assumes grid augmentation and expansion, at a cost of about $1.0 billion

    This assumes about $900 million of energy storage systems.

    This assumes about $300 million paid to owners of wind and solar systems for the electricity they could have produced, in case of curtailments.

    All this implies those doctrinaire folks talking to Senators, who have near-zero experience in the analysis and design of energy systems, are not connected to the real world.

    Europe has been dealing with exactly those problems for at least 15 years.

    Their mantra is INTERCONNECT, INTERCONNECT, INTERCONNECT, which Germany, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands,France, etc., did more than a decade ago.

    That is the OPPOSITE of what the FORTRESS folks are yearning for.

    No wonder my reaction was:

    VERMONT IS GOING TO HELL IN A HAND BASKET WITH FOOLISH ENERGY PROGRAMS

    Oh, I almost forgot,

    FORTRESS FOLKS ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT LOW-COST COMPETITION FROM HYDRO-QUEBEC.
    THE REASON HQ IS RESTRICTED TO 30% OF GENERATION.
    THAT WAY THEY GET TO PLAY WITH THE OTHER 70%

  2. FORTRESS VERMONT; a $1.2 billion PARTIAL cost of transition to ‘Fortress Vermont’ for 100% IN-STATE renewable energy generation
    http://www.truenorthreports.com/1-2-billion-partial-cost-of-transition-to-fortress-vermont-100-instate-renewable-energy

    FORTRESS VERMONT involves having battery and liquid air electricity storage systems to STORE the variable, intermittent, grid-disturbing, junk-electricity, of wind and solar, that is expensive/kWh, and requires high subsidies/kWh, and requires all that expensive storage/kWh, so the smoothed-out, junk-electricity can actually be fed into electric grids without excessively disturbing them.

    Absent storage, if the junk electricity would threaten to excessively disturb the grids, curtailment would be ordered by ISO-NE, the grid operator.
    Solar, if a major part of 100% in-state RE generation: The large quantities of stored electricity, generated during sunnier midday hours, would be available from about late-afternoon/early-evening to about midmorning the next day, while solar is asleep. Regarding storage, the overall daily in/out loss would be about 20% of feed in for battery systems, and about 30% for LAES systems.
    Wind, if a major part of 100% in-state RE generation: The large quantities of stored electricity would be available as needed, because the wind blows in a sporadic manner and is frequently entirely absent. Ergo, any variable/intermittent wind generation would need to be stored, whenever it happens to be available.
    Existing In-State Generation and Cost

    In 2018, Vermont in-state generation was 2,309,276 MWh, per US-EIA. That number is inflated, because it includes some hydro plants on the Connecticut River arbitrarily assigned to Vermont by US EIA.

    In 2018, the actual Vermont in-state generation was about 1,449,301 MWh, fed to grid basis, about 1.45/6.0 = 24.2% of total electricity fed to the Vermont grid, a.k.a. grid load. About 960,000 MWh existing prior to 2000, before any government energy programs.

    Hydro electricity, generated in Vermont, and used as an energy source by Vermont utilities, was 548,498 MWh in 2011*. See Note and page E.8 of E.18 of URL.

    * It is the latest number I was able to find, after looking all over the place on the internet.
    https://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/dps/files/documents/Utility%20Facts%202013.pdf

    Standard Offer estimated production, various technologies, mostly solar, 141,113 MWh, in 2020

    https://vermontstandardoffer.com/standard-offer/program-overview/
    https://vermontstandardoffer.com/ryegate/monthly-production/

    NOTE: I find it utterly amazing VT-DPS does not have list of all Vermont hydro plants, in operation, or not in operation, with capacities, MW, and year by year production, MWh. One person could get all the information within a few days, then set up a spreadsheet and post it on the VT-DPS website. This is what I would call efficiency.

    The Holy Grail of 100% In-State Generation and Cost

    After 2000, about 223,533 +263,315 + 2,298 = 489,146 MWh of in-state generation was expensively added, due to twenty years of dysfunctional government energy programs, that had the net effect of not reducing Vermont’s CO2.

    All that money spent over 20 years led to about 0.49/6.0 = 8.2% of NEW in-state generation by 2018 that Vermont utilities were mandated to buy at high prices!!! That percentage may be slightly higher in 2000.

    Wow, after all that jumping up and down for so little energy to “save the world”, etc.

    But the same career-bureaucrats and career-legislators are proposing to go from the 24.2% in 2018 to 100% in-state generation in 2050, mostly wind and solar, plus large-scale energy storage systems for resiliency to build FORTRESS VERMONT. Would that not cost many billions of dollars for rate payers and the Vermont economy?

    Generating at least 6.0 – 1.45 = 4.55 BILLION kWh/y of additional IN-STATE RE electricity, mostly wind and solar, would require capital costs for:

    – Large-scale electricity storage, plus large-scale grid augmentation, plus significant wind/solar generation capacity on ridge lines and open lands.

    – Additional large-scale electricity storage, plus large-scale grid augmentation, plus significant wind/solar generation capacity would be required for future ASHPs and EVs on ridge lines and open lands.

    – Future EVs and ASHPs, with sufficient capacity, for 100% space heating.

    – Upgrading the energy efficiency of the pre-dominantly, energy-hog, free-standing houses and other buildings.
    All that would cost tens of billions of dollars and have enormous environmental consequences in Vermont.

    All that would cost tens of billions of dollars and have enormous environmental consequences in Vermont.
    Getting much more hydro electricity from Canada would be soooo much more attractive for Vermonters. See Appendix.

    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-savings-of-air-source-heat-pumps-are-negative-in-vermont
    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-proper-basis-for-calculating-co2-of-electric-vehicles

    NOTE: Recently, career-bureaucrats and career-legislators were proposing to go from 10% (the existing mandated cap) to 20% in-state generation (the new mandated cap), mostly from wind and solar (plus large-scale energy storage systems for “resiliency”, plus grid expansion to connect all those systems), that UTILITIES WOULD BE MANDATED TO BUY AT HIGH PRICES. Would that not cost many billions of dollars for rate payers and the Vermont economy?

  3. VERMONT IS GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET REGARDING FOOLISH ENERGY SYSTEMS
    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket-regarding-foolish-energy

    $1.2 billion partial cost of transition to ‘Fortress Vermont’ 100% in-state renewable energy

    GERMANY

    Germany built a lot of solar and wind, plus strong connections to nearby grids.
    That way any excess or shortage of solar and wind is balanced by electricity flows to and from the German grid.
    Germany requires very little storage.
    Germany does not think of itself as FORTRESS GERMANY, because that would be considered idiotic, by the engineers who run the energy systems.

    DENMARK

    Denmark does exactly the same. It could never have as much wind as it has, if it were not for the strong connections to Norway, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany.

    VERMONT

    Why are Vermont career-bureaucrats and some career-legislators, with minimal technical training, advocating “FORTRESS VERMONT”?
    There are no good engineering reasons.
    Vermont could have strong connections to nearby grids as well.

    Liquid Air and Battery Energy Storage Systems: However, this is about building LAES and battery storage systems, MWh, in the Vermont northeast, aka, Northeast Kingdom, NEK, because future 600-ft tall wind turbine systems are “foreseen “to be located in that sparsely populated area, which has low electricity demand.

    The high electricity demand is in the west side of Vermont, i.e., Manchester, Burlington, Montpelier, Rutland, etc.

    It is no accident Highview Power, a UK company, eager to do more business in the US, has been talking with Vermont Electric Co-op about its LAES systems.

    The storage systems serve to reduce the disturbances that wind electricity would otherwise impose on the weak NEK grid.

    The Perchlik-managed Clean Energy Development Fund, CEDF, likely would provide up to 50% of any capital cost required to build an LAES system to make the “numbers” look better.

    NOTE: The CEDF used to be funded by Vermont Yankee and ARRA funds, but Shunlin, with help of career-bureaucrats and career-legislators, hounded Vermont Yankee out of business. VY used to produce 4.6 BILLION kWh/y of steady* electricity, that had no particulates, and near-zero CO2, at about 4.5 to 5 c/kWh. It was a major benefit for the Vermont economy.

    * Steady electricity, instead of the variable, intermittent, grid-disturbing, junk-electricity, of wind and solar, that is expensive/kWh, and requires high subsidies/kWh, and requires all that expensive storage/kWh, so the smoothed-out, junk-electricity can actually be fed into electric grids without excessively disturbing them. If excessively disturbed, curtailment of wind electricity would be required.

    With enough subsidies, even pigs can be made to fly!

    Vermont Shall be FORTRESS VERMONT: Career-legislators and career-bureaucrats have come up with a catchy slogan, FORTRESS VERMONT, to scare Vermonters, and make it easier to get to their wallets and bank accounts.

    No other state is aiming to be a “FORTRESS” regarding renewable energy
    Something is going on here.

    This is just a ploy to get a big pot of money extracted from tax payers, so the Perchlik-managed CEDF can distribute largesse throughout the state to favored folks, such as the politically well-connected RE companies.

    The tax payer funds will be used for subsidizing the building of excessively expensive energy systems that later turn out not to adequately reduce CO2 at a reasonable cost, as with 1) the grand stupidity of ASHPs in energy-hog houses, and 2) EVs replacing gasoline vehicles.

    Perchlik, a holdover from the infamous, corrupt Shumlin era, is on loan from the VT-Department of Public Service to help the Legislature write the FORTRESS VERMONT bill, with all the right goodies for the well-connected, such as Vermont Electric Co-op.

    Remember, these are the same career-bureaucrat, career-legislator folks who, some years ago, colluded to set up a subsidized program to have ASHPs in energy-hog houses, which turned out to be an expensive flop for almost all homeowners, but a bonanza for Efficiency Vermont “approved” installers.

    Remember, these are the same career-bureaucrat, career-legislator folks who, some years ago, colluded to set up a plethora of heavily subsidized energy programs that had the net effect of:

    – Lining the pockets of the politically well-connected
    – Imposing a lot of extra costs on the hard-working people, trying to make ends meet, in the near-zero, real-growth, left-leaning, Vermont economy.
    – NOT REDUCING CO2 from 1990 to 2020, despite investing about $5.4 billion in energy systems
    – See Appendix.

    Perchlik will use his bureaucratic expertise to “make things happen” regarding the GWSA and FORTRESS VERMONT.

    What a sham. It all stinks to high heaven.

  4. If it smells bad, it is bad.
    The offensive odor began manifesting itself at the time of the anti nuclear attacks on Vermont Yankee. I didn’t realize until years later what the motivation was. The main tool for garnering public support was fear, fear mongering through indoctrination. The most used idea was how the aging station could at any time experience a meltdown, killing thousands and contaminating property for hundreds of years. The public bought it and the only generator in VT that produced cheap, non CO2 energy (for half the state) with few interruptions was decommissioned. Why? To open a cleared path for solar and wind power and to create starter funds for them. The majority of the public was duped by activists, backed by the renewable energy industry, speculators, and bought politicos. These same carpetbaggers are behind the GWSA and TCI regulations. There is a ton of money to be made making VT an energy fortress but it won’t end up in any common Vermonters pocket. Instead they will milk the citizens purses and wallets. The so called incentives of TCI, paid back from carbon taxes on the citizens, companies, and farmers will be paltry. Distributions will be to investors coffers, employees, and for R&D and construction of energy storage units.
    Now the stench of this energy campaign has risen to an alarming level yet the majority of citizens ignore it. Will they awake in time to realize it’s not roses they smell?

    • Vermont specializes in making profits off the backs of tha average and poor Vermonters, we have a system of crony capitalism that is more incesstuous than Washington, D.C.

      We create poverty traps for thousands of people, which they can’t escape. it’s a first cousin to another form of government that Venezuala has adopted, it’s called socialism. The Vermont Democratic Party has been taken over by socialists, it’s why we have a high suicide rate, drug use, sex workers, pornogrphy epidemic, poverty, broken families and the lowest ethical grade in the nation.

      It is the reason why nothing is affordable in Vermont. God help us please.

  5. As a fella who spent his adult life in the operations of power plants and the grid, I know these ideas are stupid beyond words. What I really want to know why Vermont has the most stupid people money can buy in office? Frankly they should be locked up for our protection.

  6. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
    ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

  7. Hey Montpelier, have any ot you energy independent dreamers looked out a window from late October to early January? For those who didn’t, you can keep your sun tan lotion in a drawer because the sun ain’t shining. Not to worry they say because we’re going to spend trillions of our dollars to build long term storage capacity. One major problem, science hasn’t crossed that bridge yet. As a matter of fact, the concept is still on the drawing board. Hope springs eternal.

  8. This has been going on for too darn long.

    Clean, powerful, reliable, renewable, HYDRO.

    Preaching to the choir…. I know, but isn’t there somebody out there who can roll back the insanity.

    If you want solar….BUY SOLAR! With YOUR money. Then store & use that power from the Tesla Battery that YOU bought. It’s that simple. The high price of variable, intermittent solar shouldn’t be the problem for the rest of us. Ya put it on your roof and you figure out how to use what you make. They return on investment then becomes your problem instead of mine. I think people will still go for solar. I’d consider it. Meanwhile, the rest of the state can buy cheap, powerful, stable hydro at a third of the cost.

    Legislators…. step back from futzing around with solar and wind at MY expense. Seriously….. we’ve had it! Everything you come up with in your marble halls of wasteful spending comes at the expense of the common man! STOP!

  9. We blindly waged war against clean nuclear power ….. no one can deny.
    How we miss it now!

    Two nuclear power generators for Vermont, one north, one of which is a
    breeder reactor, which can re-energize ‘used” nuclear fuel rods

    We will end up doing it – why fight the inevitable ??!!??

  10. The sad reality is we already had a near-perfect electricity system, begun a century ago by the genius of Tesla and Edison. These legislators have the brains of gnats, compared to them.
    We already had renewable hydro systems, which stored energy and could be brought online as needed.
    These people are mentally deficient and evil, and need to be sent back to their caves. They just want to vandalize everything, like tagging the Mona Lisa. They are overgrown, juvenile delinquent punks. Send ’em back to juvy.
    Too bad too many people are too stupid to comprehend this reality.

  11. We need more nuclear power, it’s the real true green energy.
    Our legislators spent years vilifying VT Yankee, now that it’s shut down, we are looking at looney tunes ideas about wind mills & solar that just can’t be depended on especially when it snows and is cloudy with limited daylight and the craziness in Montpelier ignores numbers and logic.

  12. With estimated national reserves of clean burning natural gas of six hundred years, what pressure drives these people toward costly and intermittent 100% insane renewable energy? Even if it’s only three hundred years – think of what we derived our energy from three hundred years ago – do they think that human ingenuity, technological progress, won’t solve the problem in three hundred years? There’s also the threat of a possible long term cooling during which increased energy availability will be essential. The questionable ability of renewable energy systems to supply reliable power creates real tangible risks. As far as the 100% instate issue – may I assume that means that the renewable energy infrastructure will be constructed using Vermont renewable energy? Some of the power generating units don’t even generate in their predicted operational life as much power as is used to manufacture and deploy them. This is also a rapidly evolving technology; is it reasonable to buy into it on a massive scale when the units stand a good chance of being obsolete by the time they’re ready to go on line?

  13. Germany built a lot of solar and wind, plus strong connections to nearby grids.

    That way any excess or shortage of solar and wind is balanced by electricity flows to and from the German grid.

    Germany requires very little storage.

    Germany does not think of itself as FORTRESS GERMANY, because that would be considered idiotic, by the engineers who run the energy systems.

    Denmark does exactly the same. It could never have as much wind as it has, if it were not for the strong connections to Norway, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany.

    Why are Vermont bureaucrats and some befuddled legislators advocating “Fortress Vermont”?
    There are no good engineering reasons.

    No other state is aiming to be a “Fortress”

    Something is wrong here.

    Or is it just a ploy to get a big pot of money, so Perchlik’s Clean Energy Development Fund can distribute largesse throughout the state?

    Perchlik, a holdover from the infamous Shumlin era, is on loan from the VT-DPS to the Legislature, to use his bureaucratic expertise to “make things happen”.

    What a sham. It all stinks to high heaven.

    Guy follow the money!

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