Well, that was bullshit.
I just went down to the Statehouse for a “press conference” called by anti-wind activists. Small problem: it wasn’t a press conference, it was a rally. The room was full of anti-wind folks, and there was no opportunity to ask questions — which is the very essence of a press conference. Instead, there were brief statements from a few people met with loud cheers and applause from the people on hand.
Now look, I understand that this isn’t the worst offense against truth. But it was a clear bait-and-switch — draw the media into a room full of advocates, give them some sound bites and a good photo-op with a sympathetic backdrop, and reap the free publicity that follows. But it’s dishonest, and unbecoming of a “grass-roots” movement.
The event was organized by professional concern troll Lukas Snelling, public-relations professional from Northampton, Massachusetts, and head of Energize Vermont — the “green” organization that staunchly opposes utility-scale wind development. EV had organized an anti-wind day in Montpelier today, offering free shuttle buses to people in the anti-wind hotbeds of the Rutland area and the Northeast Kingdom.
Dunno how many people took the buses; I saw about 60 people in the room, which wouldn’t be much of a turnout for a “growing” movement. In fact, it’d be disappointingly small.
I’ll be heading back shortly for another “press conference,” at which EV will unveil its version of a clean energy plan. Full details will come later. Plus, with any luck, a few questions and answers. But EV handed out a summary of its plan this morning, and here’s a brief overview.
The plan aims for 90% of our power to come from renewable sources by the year 2030. VPIRG’s previously released paper, “Repowering Vermont,” calls for 100% renewable electricity by the year 2032. Score one for VPIRG.
After the jump: More nuclear, more Hydro Quebec, less power.
EV’s plan relies on continued operation of Vermont Yankee or some other nuclear source (7% of our electricity), a substantial increase in power from Hydro Quebec (24% in VPIRG’s plan, 38% in EV’s) and from Vermont hydro (6% for VPIRG, 13% for EV). EV effectively freezes wind energy at current levels, while VPIRG sees it growing to 28% of our electric needs. (VPIRG says we could hit that target with only six new projects the size of Lowell or Sheffield. Surely we can find six sites in Vermont that aren’t overly impactful to people or wildlife?)
Now, here’s a biggie, if I’m understanding it correctly. EV foresees almost stable electricity demand: from 6,000GWHs (gigawatt hours) now, to 6,500 GWHs in 2030. That would seem to be at odds with the trend toward electric vehicles, which may result in a huge bump in power demand, even if you assume significant efficiency savings.
VPIRG’s plan includes two forecasts: One, based on “strong efficiency” measures, sees a modest reduction in overall power demand. So maybe EV has a point there. However, VPIRG also projects demand growth, in the absence of “strong efficiency,” to about 8,500GWHs by 2030.
And VPIRG’s plan meets that increase in power demand.
In short, EV’s plan provides about 30% less electricity than VPIRG’s. It relies much more heavily on Vermont and Quebec hydro; bear in mind that there’s a great deal of controversy over expansion of Hydro Quebec, and legitimate questions about how green it really is. And it assumes continued reliance on nuclear.
I hope to get some answers this afternoon, and if I’m wrong about any of this I’ll correct it. But at first glance, I like VPIRG’s plan a lot better than EV’s.