The full evaluation is available here.
• This Coalition for Energy Solutions considered the engineering and costs of the alternative energy proposals made in the Report, Repowering Vermont, published by VPIRG/ VPIREF. This review is called the Evaluation,
• The Evaluation considers only the electricity sources proposed in the Report: Wind, Solar, Biomass, Hydro, and Market Purchases. Vermont Yankee is not evaluated and Vermont Yankee issues may be addressed in a separate document.
• We conclude that the sources proposed in the Report are possible to build, but the Report does not give costs. The Evaluation estimates $8.23 billion investment.
• The Report does not mention or discuss many environmental impacts and effects potentially requiring mitigation.
• Wind power maps show that only the central ridge of Vermont has enough wind for commercial operation of turbines. Many of these locations are remote from transmission lines. More turbines will be required than the Report estimates.
• Variability and intermittency of wind and solar power are significant technical hurdles which limit their addition to the New England grid.
• Cost (solar) and local opposition (wind) have already slowed deployment of these resources.
• It is unclear whether the wood-fired power supply proposed in the Report is possible. Forest health and the amount of wood that can be harvested on a sustainable basis remain open questions among foresters. The Legislature has chartered a Biomass Development Working Group (2009-2012) to answer questions about biomass use.
• Farm methane and landfill methane power should be used regardless of cost. They have a high value because they burn methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The VPIREF Report does not take credit for this. However, these methane power sources (as well as expansion of in-state hydro) will only supply small amounts of electricity.
• Many questions would need resolution before the proposals in the Report could be implemented. This will result in a longer schedule than estimated by VPIREF. Vermont will be forced to buy natural gas, coal, and nuclear power from the grid for many years while the new sources are built.
This Evaluation focuses on engineering feasibility and cost. Ultimately our political process must make choices about energy supply and these choices may include other factors (energy policy). We include some policy considerations in a brief Afterword to the Evaluation.