October 21st, 2016

Pay for Who and for What?

Once again some legislators want us all to pay a carbon tax so Vermont can lead the way in carbon reduction. Missing from this rhetoric is the fact that Vermont once DID lead the way: when Vermont Yankee was operating, we had the lowest carbon emissions per capita for electricity production.

Then Vermont Yankee’s power contract expired in March 2012 and the plant closed in December 2014. Vermont went from enjoying a healthy, affordable, steady diet of low-cost, carbon-free power to a brownish admixture of nuclear, hydro, natural gas, coal and oil power, with a garnish of in-state renewable. Research shows that in-state renewable power has grown by just six percent of the total power load since March 2012. That six percent “solution” is really no solution at all climate-wise, because the renewable industry sells its renewable energy credits to out-of-state gas, coal and oil power producers so they can keep pouring smoke into the air and look more “green” than they actually are. If you think the Vermont renewable power industry is leading the way, ask yourself, “leading the way where? And for whom?”

Carbon taxes and RECS are just one struggling industry’s attempt to get state government to rescuethem from having a financially weak product by handing them their competition’s money. Real carbon reduction will come when New England energy planners prioritize existing high-volume, low-carbon generators like hydro and nuclear. Until then, we will just add tiny amounts of renewable power every year while burning more and more fossil fuels. This is not a problem solver for global warming or for fixing the out of control spending in Montpelier.

George Clain
Barre, VT

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