Candidates for lieutenant governor express reservations about large-scale green energy

Four candidates for lieutenant governor on Wednesday participated in a forum focused on Vermont’s climate policy, and while all voiced support for green energy, some had reservations about the role of Big Wind.

The event was hosted by activist organization Rights and Democracy and facilitated over Zoom.

While expressing reservations about large wind and solar installations, all the candidates said they were strongly committed to Vermont’s recent efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Vermont Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Former Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman

The candidates who appeared together in a Zoom call were former lieutenant governor and Progressive David Zuckerman, executive director of Vermont Council on World Affairs Patricia Preston, former Democrat state lawmaker Catherine “Kitty” Toll, and state Rep. Charlie Kimbell, D-Woodstock.

Zuckerman, who served as Vermont’s lieutenant governor from 2017 to 2021, argued that the state needs to spend more money on combatting climate change.

“All of the things that other folks have mentioned in terms of expanding transit, expanding electric vehicles and charging stations, it’s going to take money,” he said.

Zuckerman spoke of his vision to see smaller housing units focused in community centers, where residents can make more use of public transportation.

“Development patterns are critical,” he said. “Our investments need to be in affordable small housing in town and village centers because that will enable public transportation to be more efficient.”

He added that energy policy should take into account a variety of social-justice concerns.

“How we produce our energy, and where, is directly impactful on the BIPOC communities. So, speaking out in support of renewable energy throughout Vermont versus our energy policy impact onto BIPOC communities in southern New England is something that I’ve been very vocal about,” Zuckerman said.

Zuckerman also said wind energy “is productive and extremely beneficial to balance solar; we get more wind at night and solar during the day.”

Preston, during her segment of the forum, said climate change is an urgent “threat” that lawmakers must address as a priority.

“Vermont is at a crossroads — climate change is the most serious threat humanity has faced. It is a threat to our way of life in Vermont and everything that we hold near and dear,” she said. “We have to address the climate crisis now.”

Preston emphasized that public engagement would be a key to getting buy-in on new wind and solar development in the state.

“Particularly when it comes to making progress on wind and solar development, we will accomplish the goal if we are able to bring communities together and really look at and discuss this critical work,” she said. “We have to make sure that all voices are being heard in this process, and as we move forward on expanding renewable energy, communities impacted by this expansion will be part of this expansion.”

Kimbell, while expressing support for urgent climate policymaking, said he has reservations about large scale industrial wind turbines.

“It’s the permitting process of the new wind projects in which we have neighbors pitted against neighbors,” he said. “… I’ll be honest: I need to learn more about it. I’m not going to just toe the line and tell you that I have the answers.”

Industrial-scale wind power has been controversial in Vermont. Even some environmental groups have pointed to mountain top destruction, noise violations, and destruction of wildlife habitat as reasons to oppose industrial-scale wind power.

Catherine Toll

Catherine “Kitty” Toll

Kitty Toll, who represented the Caledonia-Washington district between 2009 and 2021, and served as former chair of the House Appropriations Committee, emphasized the need for more solar power.

“Solar power is a very important piece of this entire puzzle,” she said. “And there needs to be more accessibility to all Vermonters. And the government has to get involved and … has to lead people away from the use of fossil fuels.”

However, she admitted that her past constituents complained about construction of large industrial wind turbines, and that she would be mindful of that going forward.

The Zoom meeting, being an online platform, allows for streaming live viewer comments. David Blittersdorf, the CEO of AllEarth Renewables and a developer of large scale wind power in Vermont, weighed in with his own perspective on the topic.

“Time to fix the PUC and DPS with new legislated direction. … Phil Scott has killed windpower in VT. Half of our future energy needs to come from in-state wind,” he wrote.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Public domain, Vermont Office of the Lieutenant Governor and Catherine Toll
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13 thoughts on “Candidates for lieutenant governor express reservations about large-scale green energy

  1. Both solar and wind are losers due to low reliability of output. Each require 100% fully capable stand-by energy that is dependable, such as natural gags or other hydro-carbon fuel.
    Battery storage of excess wind or solar generated electric power require massive systems and are very short lived back-up. The technology is really not ready for prime time.

    And again, there is no climate crisis, and CO2 is not driving Earth’s warming so the anti-carbon fervor is misdirected.

  2. Fortunately, voters have a choice with Joe Benning running for Lt. Gov. He understands as well as anyone why industrial wind is wrong for Vermont. Who knows, maybe it will be a deciding factor in the November election.

  3. WOW, the candidates for Lt Gov express concerns with large scale wind and solar……WOW again, they are finally, finally catching up with the towns and residents of Vermont who have been expressing profound concerns about the massive negatives of big wind and solar for many years…….Concerns from the people that have been ignored by the politicians in Montpelier.

    Are these candidates finally hearing from sources other the renewable energy industry after all these years? Or is this merely campaign talk to get elected before jumping back in the monied renewable energy industry?

    It’s time to repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act plus all related climate change mandates and bury them in the junk yard of Vermont legislative blunders.

  4. Vermont is run by idiots. First all the Libs insist on hating all fossil fuels and mandate “Green” energy…..and along this shining-feel-good-path ….they:

    shut down the cleanest large fuel source, Vt Yankee.
    They insist on solar, but they hate solar because to do it in scale makes pristine fields and hills turn into a solar panel waste dump. BAD for tourism! .Sun does not always shine in VT.
    They inist on hydro power on one hand…but on the other hate hydro because is harms fish habitat and the regulators & enviro review to build one make it nearly impossible financially.
    VT is not ideal for solar and only the rich can really afford it.
    They insist on Green wind power towers, but then hate then because it is unsightly and it kills birds. Then, the wind might not blow.
    Coventry landill produces PLENTY of renewable energy via Green methane capture….but they hate Coventry and fight like hell to halt any expansion. It is the ONLY dump in VT left!
    Liberals fight any new pipelines for affordable, plentiful and clean natural gas.
    They love WOODSTOVES…but the smoke pollutes the air, doesn’t it?

    What is it a liberal can’t see of what they say, versius what they do. They are all pie-in-the-sky-unicorns-and -rainbows :),

  5. I do not know alot about 3 candidates though I have thoughts for all. first Zuckerman the guy who car-pooled with others to mountpeculiar and all charged us, the taxpayer mileage…..does anyone remember that? dishonest is as dishonest does…..end story there.
    Water can also be a source of power (see what ORPC is doing) so Thank you Steve Merrill for bringing that up
    To me it seems the whole of gov is set on this agenda and refusing to look at the here and now, or alternative to…and I believe its money driven….the amount of change Vermont can make on the earth is miniscule …so please lets take the time to research all methods, and make a plan instead of cramming down joe/jill/other public (ie; where your paychecks come from) throats………
    This state of mine…….VErmont is completely wacked in my humble opinion

  6. I want all the wind and solar believers to spend year, a full year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with electricity only when the wind blows or the sun shines. then they can tell us how it works. — I want to know what they do at the peak times when they have no power or the dead of winter when they have no power. That is the reality they all ignore.

  7. Zuckerman,

    Here is some food for thought

    The Full Cost of Wind Electricity

    The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind system, owned by Dominion Energy turnkey cost was about $57 million for 15 MW of wind turbines. The $57 million is for the wind turbines, and to bring the power ashore.
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2022/05/20/what-is-the-full-cost/

    Here is a summary of some cost items:

    1) The capital cost of transmission upgrades, which is socialized.
    2) The increase in operating, maintenance, wear and tear, and fuel costs imposed on OTHER generating plants, usually CCGTS, to counteract the variable wind output, 24/7/365
    3) The operation and maintenance costs of the offshore wind turbine system, which are at least 3 times the cost of a similar onshore wind system
    4) The cost of standby/reserve generation, staffed, fueled, ready to operate, in case the wind is insufficient
    5) The annual cost of federal and state grants, subsidies, accelerated depreciation, deductions of loan interest costs, etc.
    6) The annual cost of the owner’s return on his investment, at about 9%/y
    7) The annual cost of amortizing any bank loans at about 6%/y

    The above would be close to the full cost of energy, FCOE, of offshore wind.

    In the real world, a lot of these costs are not separately identified and quantified, and much of the costs are SHIFTED to ratepayers, taxpayers and government debts, which makes offshore wind LOOK a lot less costly per kWh, than in reality

    There is massive misinformation, aided and abetted by Wall Street and the Media, to make wind and solar appear less costly than in reality, to reinforce the widespread delusion we can have wind, solar and batteries at less cost than fossil fuels.

  8. When every elected official complies with every one of their ECO decrees that all citizens must move into a smaller energy efficient home, use electricity for all domestic fuel requirements, use public transit, drive an EV, etc, etc then I will take them seriously. NOT until!

  9. It is truly frightening to hear Catherine Toll a formerly elected representative make a statement like:

    “Solar power is a very important piece of this entire puzzle,” she said. “And there needs to be more accessibility to all Vermonters. And the government has to get involved and … has to lead people away from the use of fossil fuels.”

    So Catherine, exactly why is solar power a “very important piece” when at this latitude there is a lack of usable solar energy during a large portion of the year, to say nothing about the night time. That incredible lack of understanding would cause an extreme and very costly overbuilding of supply. There is at this time and in the foreseeable future, no “magic battery” to store any renewable energy when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind is calm. Note that other places, notably Germany, have gone down this rabbit hole and are now suffering the effects.

    Also, I would not even want to comment on your non-sequitur “And there needs to be more accessibility to all Vermonters.” as to further insult your intelligence.

    Please spare us the rhetoric, you are a candidate for the poster child of the failure of education in Vermont.

    Back to school, please.

    • Yirgach,

      Those Dem/Prog folks are just blathering nonsense that appeals to THEIR supporters.

      Solar electricity is something that happens around midday

      You would need an enormous battery capacity to even out the midday bulge for the entire day, plus additional capacity to cover 5 to 7 day solar lulls, plus additional capacity to cover seasonal variations

  10. And why would anyone listen to or entertain anything Zuckerman has to say, he needs
    to climb back under the rock he slithered from………..

    Hey Zuckerman how are your electric tractors working, to save the state, Oh that’s what
    I thought, just another progressive hypocrite, he’s always been a joke.

  11. Funny thing–Just last month ESI Energy, subsidiary of energy giant NextEra, was fined $35 Million NOT for killing about 150 Bald Eagles with their windmills in 8 states but for failing to get the PERMITS to do so or “paying restitution or compensatory mitigation” stated the US-DOJ in it’s lawsuit against the company. The American Bird Conservancy says some 3 BILLION birds have been killed by windmills since 2019 alone by some 68,000 “mills” in the USA. When I interviewed Vt. Elec. Co-Op’s Hallquist at their Lowell site, then under construction, I asked if they would allow monitors to do a bird/bat body count and never got an answer. Now I think I know why. And Zuckerman says they are “productive & extremely beneficial”? Not to the birds I guess. Search “cities with failed electric buses” and see what comes up. These folks want to take MORE money, that’s decreasing in it’s value daily (Thanks to Biden’s killing fossil fuels on day one), from OUR pockets to build charging stations and more for rich yuppies that can AFFORD these low-range, barely heated in winter, unsuited for hills & cold weather, garage-burning down electric vehicles that need NEW batteries (toxic w/fees for disposal) every four years? Sure! Hybrids with small engines powering generators to the wheels seems to make a LOT more sense that TOTAL electric and there’s NO mention of fuel efficiency from CONVENTIONAL gas powered cars in the last 20 years on the road now? Compared to the gas engines of the last century & coupled w/cat-converters we’ve come a LONG way. Whatever happened to “Hydrogen” happy boosters? Remember them? They only emitted water vapor! Why no mention of Hydro-Power anymore? Our state warns us to “limit fish consumption” due to mercury so why not re-build old dams and construct new ones? ASK these folks the HARD questions, how MANY birds are killed by Big Wind and WHO, if ANYONE, counts their bodies? How about HYDRO? What’s it going to cost to change/dispose of auto batteries?

  12. Zuckerman,

    How does that work during cloudy, nearly windless hours, often 5 to 7 days, of which Vermont and NE has many such periods?

    Wind and solar do not compliment each other, because solar is a primarily midday event, per ISO-NE real-time NE production data.

    Talking otherwise is pixie dust

    You should be advocating very low, energy-use buildings that are arranged for passive solar gain.

    Such buildings would use only 1/3 the annual energy of standard Vermont buildings

    I should stop, because I am wasting my time.
    You will not listen anyway

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