Vermont’s energy future: Who is listening to whom?

The Rutland Herald (Vermont) wrote in an editorial (“Energy answers,” August 6, 2011 [online for subscribers]):

“Findings from the state Department of Public Service confirm the conventional wisdom about the possibilities for the state’s energy future and point in the direction of common sense.

“The department is drawing up a much anticipated new energy plan that could provide direction for policy choices as the state confronts the many challenges related to energy and the environment.

“As part of the process of drawing up the plan, the department has collected comments from thousands of Vermonters in order to assess public opinion on energy issues.”

Nevertheless, the CEP (Comprehensive Energy Plan) Public Involvement Report (Vermont Department of Public Service, August 3, 2011) is not a “public opinion survey.”

According to this report (page 4):

“It is not an exhaustive record of public comments, nor is it a scientific survey of Vermonters. Rather, it captures general trends and suggestions to form a snapshot of public opinion across a variety of energy issues.

“It reflects the views of the comments received, but it is not necessarily representative of the views of all Vermonters or the Administration. Comments have not been edited for factual accuracy.

“Comments were received via email and the CEP website, as well as verbally at stakeholder meetings and public forums.”

In other words, advocates for or against particular energy options, not necessarily Vermonters, shared their views. Feasibilities, environmental impacts and true costs (including subsidies) have not been determined.

The Rutland Herald wrote: “For example, Vermonters like the idea of decentralized, small-scale, ‘distributed power generation’.” Some Vermonters do, though perhaps not if their properties turn out to be affected or taken by the generation facilities or the transmission lines connecting them to the Vermont grid.

A century ago, Vermont had decentralized, small-scale, distributed power generation. Everyone outside of those neighborhoods waited until electricity came to their neighborhoods. My already settled neighborhood, a mile from the 1909 Vernon hydro plant, waited until 1956 — 47 years.

Nowadays, every Vermonter’s work and leisure depend on electricity. Availability, reliability and affordability will be our demands, whatever the energy source.

Howard Fairman
Vernon, Vermont, USA

Vermont Uncommon Taters: plain, nutritious, organic, underground, local food for thought about Vermont.