The day GWSA stood for ‘God wants solar arrays’

By Guy Page

On Thursday, the Vermont House of Representatives approved H.688, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), by a seemingly veto-proof margin of 105-37.

If it becomes law, GWSA would require a 21-member Climate Cabinet to act aggressively to reduce carbon emissions. If it fails to meet target goals, GWSA gives lawyers the right to sue the state and the courts the right to order the state to comply.

Under GWSA, it’s conceivable that without further legislative action Vermont would “have to” adopt a carbon tax and spend over a billion dollars to rework the state’s electricity grid in favor of widespread solar power. Both of those proposals are on the legislative table right now but are being criticized as just too costly. Environmental lawyers skilled in wielding the new power of GWSA could force the State to ignore that objection.

Guy Page

And that, apparently, is just fine with the Almighty — according to a pastor who addressed the Legislature as yesterday’s session opened.

Most daily sessions of the House open with a brief devotion in the form of a sermonette or prayer. They are delivered by people of all faiths (including no faith) and there’s just one rule: don’t get political. If asked like the Rabbi Hillel to sum up the policy while standing on one foot, a state House clerk would answer, “never, ever talk about pending legislation.”

And yet that’s just what the Rev. Carl Van Osdall, First Presbyterian Church, in Barre, did. He warmed to his subject by reminding lawmakers (several times) that in the Genesis story, God created humankind on the sixth day to “take responsibility for” the natural world. (The text actually says “take dominion of,” but, well, whatever.) He then reminded them that this Legislature often must vote on protecting nature. And then, in case anyone had failed to connect the dots, he reminded them, “and today, you are voting on the Global Warming Solutions Act.”

Hint, hint.

Last year, Rev. Rosaire Bisson was banned from doing Senate devotions after he quoted from the Declaration of Independence and other august documents about the right to life. He never used the word “abortion” — but that one veiled reference to a hot button was apparently one too many for some senators. Rev. Bisson was firmly and immediately disinvited, for the year at least.

And now another reverend has put his foot in it. His legislative recommendation did not go unnoticed. House administrators say the devotion content crossed the line, reminders will be shared, preventive action will be taken.

The transgressing devotion followed a day-long renewable revival by the Interfaith Power & Light organization, an environmental group comprised of Vermont people of faith. It held a press conference (in conjunction with Vermont Public Interest Research Group, a/k/a VPIRG), distributed a press release to every lawmaker (“We won’t save what we don’t love”), had dozens of people wandering the State House hallways wearing climate change lapel pins, and asked friendly lawmakers to introduce them from the Floor  to the rest of the House – all of the tried-and-true citizen advocacy techniques.

But standing in the House pulpit and confidently expressing divine support for the GWSA and the Transportation and Climate Initiative carbon tax? That’s taking grassroots advocacy to a whole, new level.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

4 thoughts on “The day GWSA stood for ‘God wants solar arrays’

  1. “It makes more sense for the state to increase its renewable energy capacity than merely to buy more green energy from out of state, said Ben Edgerly Walsh, director of the climate and energy program at the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.
    “If you look at the economic impacts and the resilience benefits of this kind of investment, it clearly is good for the state as a whole,” Edgerly Walsh said, To ensure the state doesn’t become overly reliant on out-of-state energy sources, the bill includes what is effectively a cap at 33 percent for electricity purchased from Hydro-Quebec.”

    This is pure BLARNEY.
    Walsh of VPIRG is spouting nonsense.
    He has been drinking the Kool-Aid provided by his RE friends.
    He is a stooge for the wind, solar and storage interests that finance his organization.
    Resilience benefits?
    In-state generation and storage is clearly of benefit to the RE folks
    Walsh will say anything to keep their bribes.
    The 33% limit on HQ hydro has nothing to do with “BECOMING OVERLY RELIANT”, but it has everything to do with keeping HQ out and making room for the local RE folks.


    NE should have much more of clean (no particulates, etc.), near-zero-CO2 hydro electricity from Canada, which is eager to sell to us at a low c/kWh. GMP is buying about 1.2 million MWh/y of HQ electricity at about 5.7 c/kWh, under a recent 20-y contract.

    However, greedy, subsidy-seeking, renewable energy entities in Vermont, working in cahoots with legislators and career bureaucrats, have been keeping it out for years.

    They want electricity production, mostly heavily subsidized, wind and solar, done the home-grown, expensive way.
    That electricity is made to LOOK less expensive by subsidies and cost shifting, but if subsidies and cost shifting are included, it would be very expensive. See Appendix.

    A standard 1000 MW transmission line from Quebec to the Vermont border, about $1.5 billion, mostly paid for by Canada, could provide about 4.5 billion kWh/y of very clean, near-zero CO2/kWh, no particulate pollution/kWh, STEADY, 98% hydro-electricity, from Hydro Quebec, for about 6.0 – 6.5 c/kWh, under a 20-y power purchase contract.

    The price would be adjusted based on at NE grid wholesale prices, which have been about 5 c/kWh starting in 2009, 11 years. It is the far beyond rational for Vermont to not buy more H-Q electricity.

    Canada would build, and pay for, the transmission line to the Vermont border.

  2. “But the bill’s call to double – from 10 percent to 20 percent – the amount of renewable energy that utilities would have to purchase from new Vermont sources like solar seemed to be a bridge too far for some senators.”

    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, career-bureaucrats and career-legislators are proposing to go from 10% (the existing mandated cap) to 20% in-state generation (the new mandated cap), mostly wind and solar, plus large-scale energy storage 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?

    – 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.

    See table 8 and Appendix

    Table 8/VT In-state generation, fed to grid basis
    Energy Source
    Hydro, see Appendix
    Non-net-metered, larger systems; mostly solar and wind
    Net-metering, smaller systems; mostly solar, per GMP
    Ryegate, wood-chip-fired, per US-EIA
    McNeil, wood-chip-fired, per US-EIA
    Middlebury College, wood-chip-fired, per US-EIA

  3. Follow the money – this is a real pail of snakes. Those least able to afford this tax boondoggle will be made to suffer while the unelected fat cats rake in the dough.

  4. As representatives of the citizens of Vermont, house members and state senators have a fiduciary responsibility to defend us from legal and financial harm. I am required to do this as a selectboard member representing the citizenry in my town. The state reps that voted for this intend to do both legal and financial harm to Vermonters. They have no business representing anyone.

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