Green Mountain Power wants 100 percent renewable status in 11 years, despite costs

Green Mountain Power is doubling down on a green agenda for the foreseeable future, committing to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2025 and 100 percent renewable by 2030.

GMP’s initiative was announced during its Earth Day Every Day Fair in South Burlington. The company claims to have the most aggressive green energy policy for a utility of its size in the nation.

Green Mountain Power

Green Mountain Power serves more than 270,000 homes and businesses and they are targeting 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

“The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear, we have to act now, and take bold steps to cut carbon,” said Mary Powell, president and CEO of GMP. “The report issued in October of 2018 shows we have just 12 years to bend back the curve on carbon.

“Green Mountain Power is determined that through innovation, collaboration and grit, we can make remarkable strides and be the example of the change we want to see and deliver this energy future to benefit the customers we serve.”

The move occurs while a recent study by the free-market think tank the American Experiment indicates that shifts toward renewable energy cause energy costs to rise.

GMP’s current energy supply is 90 percent carbon-free and 60 percent renewable. It will achieve the new goals by “ramping up local distributed resources for generating and storing energy, ramping up purchases of carbon-free wind and hydro energy, all while making sure customers receive reliable, cost-effective service.”

The power company gets 75 percent of its power from within Vermont. More than 15,000 GMP customers and over 3,000 commercial and industrial customers use solar. The company has two solar storage installations at present, and three more in the works.

William Dodge is chair of the Essex Energy Committee where one of these new installations is to be built.

“Vermont’s 90 percent renewable by 2050 goal is difficult to achieve without residents in Essex and elsewhere really putting our shoulder to the wheel when it comes to how we drive, heat our homes, and use electricity,” he said. “But with GMP’s total commitment to carbon-neutral, clean electricity, Vermont is in a substantially better position to achieve its 90 by 2050 goal.”

Regarding the study by The American Experiment, which focused on Minnesota, lead author Isaac Orr told True North that the costs might be even greater for Vermont. For example, in Minnesota the proposal is to achieve just 50 percent renewable energy by 2050, and that would cost Minnesotans $80 billion over that time.

“Wind and solar will increase the cost of electricity dramatically in Minnesota, and I would imagine they would be even more expensive in Vermont, because you don’t get a lot of sun and the wind resource isn’t as good as Minnesota either,” he said.

Orr said “the capacity factor” for wind and solar is an issue. That term gauges how much energy is actually produced versus its potential output. Orr estimates it’s probably below 30 percent for Vermont.

“So it gets to this point where it becomes exponentially more expensive because the wind turbines are not producing constantly and you don’t know when that will happen, so you still have to have the gas power plant around,” he said.

He said proponents of wind and solar generally do a poor job representing the true economics.

“One of the things they say is we’ll save millions on fuel cost but they don’t talk about the billions that will be spent on turbines, panels, and the transmission lines needed in order to transport the energy to the consumers,” Orr said.

The GMP announcement does mention increasing purchases of hydropower. Orr said that’s a much smarter move than more wind and solar.

“The only countries and states that have ‘low carbon or green energy’ are ones that use nuclear power and hydroelectric power,” he said. “So for the Green New Deal folks to just basically write those two off as options says to me that they are not serious, that they are not the adults in the room.”

He noted that Vermont’s carbon output actually went up after Vermont Yankee — the state’s 600-megawatt nuclear plant — closed down years ago. This matter has become a thorn in the campaign platform of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Orr also picked on the new battery storage technologies, saying they are still a long way from making renewables competitive.

He said just to obtain 24 hours of energy capacity for Minnesota’s renewable output would cost more than $133 billion, equal to “the cost of running the entire electric grid for 31 years.”

He said he doesn’t think that’s much different from how it is in Vermont.

“I think a lot of people think that battery storage is this magical technology that suddenly cures what ails wind and solar in terms of intermittency, but I do not think that it will ever compete with other sources of carbon-free electricity such as nuclear in terms of costs,” Orr said.

He added it’s not just that there are more economical renewable forms of energy, but the most economical forms continue to be the non-renewable forms such as natural gas and clean-burning coal power.

“Clean burning coal is the single greatest return on investment in terms of energy for consumers at this time,” Orr said. ” … The cost of decarbonizing far outweigh the benefits of doing it.”

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

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/David Monniaux and Green Mountain Power
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9 thoughts on “Green Mountain Power wants 100 percent renewable status in 11 years, despite costs

  1. Just MSPHD — GMP really promoting batteries in the basement, hosted/paid for by the consumer to provide backup for…..GMP!!

  2. They all know that clean Nuclear is the way to go and it will solve a multitude of climate issues!
    By not doing it they get to control is with the higher cost and taxes. Time to take back our state or let the sheep have it and the rest of us will move out! Vermont will collapse under these ridiculous laws. Anyone notice how many people as well as celebrities have moved out of CA?
    Anyone can rant and rave about caring for the little guy and then secretly move out so as not to pay the tax.. such hypocrites.

  3. Table 1/Land area Acre/MW CF Generation at site Generation at site Nuclear
    MWh/acre/y MWh/acre/60y Times better
    Nuclear 0.5 0.90 15779 946728 1
    Solar, field-mounted 7 0.15 188 11271 84
    Wind, onshore 102 0.30 26 1547 612
    Wind, offshore 245 0.45 16 966 980
    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/land-and-sea-area-for-various-energy-sources

    Over 60 years

    A 1000 MW nuclear plant, on 500 acres, would generate 946,728 MWh/acre
    Turnkey capital cost $6 billion.

    A 1000 MW solar plant, 7000 acres, would generate 11,271 MWh/acre
    Turnkey capital cost 60/25 x 1000 x $2.5 million/MW = $6 billion

    Nuclear has much less CO2/kWh than solar

    New nuclear plants can be designed to be daily load curve-following, as France has been doing for several decades.
    New nuclear plants do not require the peaking, filling in services, but wind and solar DO REQUIRE THESE SERVICES.
    With nuclear, the 24/7/365 balancing service would continue to be by gas turbines, diesel generators, or batteries.

    GMP

    GMP buys H-Q electricity, at the Vermont border, for 5.549 c/kWh, under a recent contract.
    GMP buys at 5.549 c/kWh, per GMP spreadsheet titled “GMP Test Year Power Supply Costs filed as VPSB Docket No: Attachment D, Schedule 2, April 14, 2017”.
    NO SUBSIDIES REQUIRED
    H-Q is eager to sell more of its SURPLUS electricity to New England and New York.

    That is at least 50% less than ridgeline wind and large-scale field-mounted solar, which are heavily subsidized to make their electricity appear to be less costly than reality.

    GMP sells to me at 19 c/kWh, per rate schedule.
    Consumers pricing for electricity is highly political.
    That is implemented by rate setting, taxes, fees, surcharges, etc., mostly on household electric bills, as in Denmark and Germany, etc.
    The rate setting is influenced by protecting “RE policy objectives” (highly profitable for GMP), which include highly subsidized, expensive microgrids, islanding, batteries and net metered solar and heat pumps.

  4. ““The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear, we have to act now, and take bold steps to cut carbon,” said Mary Powell,”

    Sorry Marzie but that’s a out and out LIE as you well know. Just like the lie that “Your doing something” when your not going to be able to do squat in the over all aspect of “Controlling the climate”. The only
    control they really want is People control..

    This is however the only thing besides Nationalized Health Control that the left can run on as they are
    devoid of any problem solving in area’s that really need Problems solved.

  5. The powers that be keep giving us more compelling reasons to leave. NC, KY, and TN are looking better all the time.

  6. Why do they not just add more hydro from Quebec, period? They have the capacity and I believe GMP is owned by Quebec Hydro. Done deal , no phony subsidies increasing cost to all consumers, no sketchy supply issues, like when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. Besides, my panels have a degradation of 2% per year and a 16.97 % energy conversion rate, not to mention a 25 year life span. So when I need them most, on a fixed income they will be kaput. I won’t be able to keep up with the 4-5% annual rate increases, inflation, carbon taxes and such . My only hope is to die…put,put,put, kablooey!

    • GMP selling Canadian hydro
      Dollars go to Canada
      VT/US poorer
      Yeah, great economics– to save us all from that evile global warming (hoax)

  7. Green Mountain Power wants 100 percent renewable status in 11 years, despite costs !!
    now that’s a real progressive statement………..

    Let’s see we use to get low-cost power from Canada, we had a Nuclear Power in Vernon
    both where feasible options.

    Why waste the time and money GPM, the rest of your Socialist DemocRATs are stating the
    world will explode in 12 years…….. yeah !!

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