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A different side of Bernie

March 4, 2013

<http://vtdigger.org/2013/02/15/maroni-a-different-side-of-bernie/>

by Opinion | February 15, 2013

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Carol Maroni of Craftsbury.

As a supporter of Bernie Sanders I am floored by his lack of knowledge on the realities of ridgeline wind. In his interview on VPR’s “Vermont Edition,” Sanders states, “We have got to move as rapidly as we can to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel into energy efficiency and into sustainable energies, including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass. But not excluding wind!”

Bernie doesn’t seem to understand that wind (and solar) are intermittent renewable resources that do not replace fossil fuels. Battery storage capability yet to be developed is needed before intermittent energy can be integrated into the transmission system in a way that allows for it to replace fossil fuels. Currently grid instability issues caused by the energy production at Sheffield and Lowell are resulting in significant restrictions in the energy allowed on the grid from those projects. This is not a new problem for industrial wind but has been well documented in other areas of the country like the Pacific Northwest, where turbines have been curtailed to the point of shutdown due to the grid instability issues.

Bernie also believes that a moratorium on wind would send the wrong signal regarding Vermont’s commitment to renewable energy and would be a step backward on climate change action. Is Bernie not acquainted with Vermont’s fundamentally flawed SPEED Program?

Essentially we’re increasing our Vermont carbon footprint by destroying intact ecosystems building wind projects in Vermont so our neighboring states won’t have to. Is Bernie blind to the benefits of  Vermont’s intact ecosystems in combating global warming?

This program allows Vermont utilities to sell renewable energy credits to out-of-state programs rather than retiring them in Vermont. In doing so, wind power in Vermont cannot legally be called green. On the contrary the green renewable energy credits (RECs) in Vermont have become a commodity in itself as our neighboring New England states buy Vermont RECs to avoid fines for not meeting their own state renewable energy goals. Essentially we’re increasing our Vermont carbon footprint by destroying intact ecosystems building wind projects in Vermont so our neighboring states won’t have to. Is Bernie blind to the benefits of Vermont’s intact ecosystems in combating global warming?

While Bernie rags on the big fossil fuel companies, he ignores the fact that industrial wind represents big business as well. Incentivized by large federal production tax credits, large corporations build  industrial scale wind projects to gain the benefit of huge tax incentives and depreciation schedules that make these wind projects profitable even without producing any power. Making business decisions to benefit corporate stockholders is what big business does in a free enterprise. What is missing here is the checks and balances that should come from the legislative process. Unfortunately in Vermont and in Washington we have legislators just pushing the agenda forward with all speed and no controls … wanting to appear green and needlessly contributing to the degradation of our environment, adding to the underlying cause of global warming, and leaving us environmentally, economically and aesthetically poorer.

But what is most concerning to me is that Bernie’s comment on this issue has shown me a different side of Bernie. That is, his total disregard for well-documented facts; his digging his heels in and using his influence to blindly push this agenda forward; and his inability to consider the benefits of taking a reasonable pause to allow time to learn the truth. This leads me to ask: Is this the way Bernie approaches all the decisions he makes in Washington?

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