TNR Video Series: ‘Travels With Charlie – Vermont Politics in Real Life’ (Episode 6)

In the sixth episode of “Travels With Charlie – Vermont Politics in Real Life,” host Charlie Papillo talks solar energy with Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell and Rutland Mayor Dave Allaire.

As Charlie and his guests lounge beside the grand solar panels of Green Mountain Power’s Renewable Education Center in Rutland Town, the conversation winds from solar siting conflicts and decommissioning to battery storage and the challenge of becoming 90 percent renewable by 2050.

12 thoughts on “TNR Video Series: ‘Travels With Charlie – Vermont Politics in Real Life’ (Episode 6)

  1. This is such a great forum for people to speak, share their knowledge. Unlike some “news” sites where everything is “moderated” or just plain deleted…..there are smart people in Vermont, very many of them know what is going on. Many times the comments get into more detail than the story.

    Thank you for providing this state wide format, it’s invaluable and will become more valuable when still more content is deleted globally with regard to any conservative thought.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Want a reality check? Look at ISO-NE’s real time data which recently has shown about 70% natural gas and 20% nuclear in the mix with 5 or 6% renewables, the majority of which is biomass and refuse. Right now mid-day on a sunny summer day renewables are producing 6% of which 3% is wind and 15% is solar. Refuse and biomass are each producing about 40% of the 6% total renewables.

    If it was me (as originally planned but I guess Mary declined to be paired with me) I would have asked Mary Powell to be specific about how GMP plans to provide 100% renewable power earlier than 2050 given that the high value wind and solar RECs are sold out of state, and batteries cannot provide the necessary back-up power when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining and there is very little hydro in the mix.

  3. Perhaps the next Travels with Charlie episode on this subject will also address the potential problem in the Carbon Credit market as a result of its regulated monopoly setting, in which there is an ‘allowed rate of return’ on the utility’s investments and operating costs. While the set rate of return ensures that utilities are able to raise sufficient capital to make improvements to their infrastructure and provide reliable service to all customers, it is also an incentive for the utility to make unnecessary investments in order to increase their rate base and therefore, their profits. The Utilities also have limited incentive to keep expenses in check if those costs are simply passed through to customers.

    The value of Carbon Credits is also based on the cost of doing business. It is, therefore, more worthwhile to GMP to invest in solar farms with much higher KWH costs because it increases both its ‘allowed rate of return’ and the ‘value’ of its Carbon Credit offsets.

    I would appreciate hearing Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell’s take on this aspect of GMP’s business model and how GMP controls the potential abuse of these disincentives.

  4. I wish Charlie had broached the subject of ‘green power’ costs… that Solar power is three times more expensive per kwh, for example, than importing Hydro-Quebec power from Canada. It would also have been instructive to have discussed the fact that the same Canadian investors who own GMP also own Hydro-Quebec. Hopefully, we’ll see another ‘episode’ on the subject.

    • Isn’t it all owned by Gazprom, (spelling), which is owned by Russia? I’m sure some readers must know. I have no idea how and why our state would sell Green Mountain Power to a foreign country, even Canada…..It’s our power grid for God’s sake.

      But then many people would sell their mother out for ham sandwich….

      That whole transaction was very, very disturbing.

      • Not Gazprom. GMP is owned by the same company that owns Vermont Gas Systems, Gaz Metro which rebranded itself as Energir, based in Montreal. Complex ownership structure, currently under review at the PUC for the potential increase in ownership by Enbridge, major fossil fuel pipeline company. Look for the case called Noverco, there have been lots of filings that go into details.

        Many of New England’s/Northeast utilities are not owned by American companies. Central Maine Power, NYSEG and United Illuminated (Ct.) are owned by Spanish Iberdrola/Avangrid. National Grid of the UK bought out numerous utilities in Mass., NY and New England states. Eversource, a US company previously known as Northeast Utilities, is another major regional utility owner, created through the merger of utilities in Ct., Mass. and NH, among others. If Energir decided to sell GMP, it would likely be bought out by one of those other large utilities.

        The better question is why a necessary public service enables so much profit, with executive salaries in the millions of dollars. The regional transmission organization, ISO-NE, has an ever-increasing budget

      • No – you may be thinking of Gaz Métro, a Canadian firm that is one of the Canadian principals with some controlling GMP interest. As you can see, there are several major shareholders.

        “Gouvernement du Québec (no official name in English) owns Green Mountain Power via its $176.2 billion (December 31, 2012) Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (Québec Deposit and Investment Fund, which has no official name in English).”

        “Gouvernement du Québec also wholly owns Hydro-Québec.”

        • P.S. I don’t care who owns GMP. I just want the cheapest power I can get. You can’t blame GMP or its Canadian owners for taking advantage of Vermont’s antiquated and over-simplified utility regulations. Its the Public Service Board, Public Service Department and their cronies in the Vermont legislature who let this happen.

  5. I want to do this right!

    How many solar panels will I need on my lawn to charge my electric car overnight?

    When we were on a save electric recently, the electric co. said if I turned off some lights and delayed the wash, that I could plug in to recharge my electric car ???

  6. Some great people there…..wonderful to see women running such great corporations.

    Geothermal for home heats, allow modest green transportation to be imported and you’ve solved a huge portion of the puzzle. Would have been great to hear the plan the GMP is currently on for power production.

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