Energy

Toby Talbot / AP

Green Mountain Power in recent years has installed wind turbines atop Vermont’s ridgelines and solar arrays in its fields. All fueling the delivery of clean, green, renewable power to conscientious Vermonters’ homes, right?

Turns out, that’s a matter of debate.

“If you were to ask Vermonters, ‘do they think that by buying GMP power from wind projects, they’re reducing their carbon footprint’ I’d venture to say a strong a majority of Vermonters would say, ‘of course that’s what we’re doing’,” says Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau. “The truth is, they’re not.”

Charlotte Albright / VPR

The town of Craftsbury expects to cover about a third of its municipal energy needs with a new solar tracker. The 20-kilowatt panel recently installed at the town garage was funded by a payment made to the town by Green Mountain Power, which placed 21 turbines atop nearby Lowell Mountain. The select board opposed that wind project.

Dave Cohen

Studies show that people are increasingly choosing bicycles as a healthier, greener alternative to their cars. But Vermont’s hills pose challenges that some people can’t handle. That might explain the burgeoning interest in electric-assist bicycles.

On a Brattleboro side street recently about a dozen e-bike riders met to exchange information and compares notes on their equipment. The gathering resembled one of those car meet-ups, where people open their hoods and inspect each other’s engines. But the closest thing to engines here were electric motors and rechargeable batteries.

State officials have named six members to a new panel that will oversee the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

The 19-member panel was created to help assure transparency, communication and citizen involvement as Vermont Yankee is dismantled. The nuclear plant is scheduled to stop operating in December.

Burlington Electric Department announced today that officials have recently discovered billing issues dating back as far as 2003 that led to the over-billing of two of the utility’s largest customers: The City of Burlington and the University of Vermont. Another issue officials discovered led to under-billing for the ECHO Center on the Lake Champlain waterfront. 

The billing issue at the city of Burlington, which went back to 2008, was discovered when the city’s bills for street lights went up despite a program to replace old street lights with energy efficient LED lights.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

The state of Vermont is equipping 12 public buildings, including prisons, with solar energy systems. Thursday Governor Shumlin and the leaders of several businesses held a news conference at the first solar array under construction, for the Northeast Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury.

The complex of low buildings surrounded by barbed wired fencing perches on a scenic knoll on Route 5 just south of town.

Angela Evancie / VPR

The Beacon 10 Stirling – black, with a glowing blue light, and about the size of a large chest freezer – emits a constant low hum. And this one, in the basement of the Essex Resort & Spa, converts natural gas into electricity, enough electricity to power an average-sized home.

It’s just one of the technological innovations on offer at NRG Energy, a national company that is about to use Vermont as a testing ground for its products and services.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ruled that spent nuclear fuel can be safely stored indefinitely at decommissioned nuclear power plants.

The rule stems from a 2012 appeals court ruling ordering the NRC to consider the chance that a long-promised, permanent nuclear waste repository might never be built. The court also ordered the agency to do further analysis of the risks of spent fuel pool leaks and fires.

Nina Keck / VPR

This summer Vermont ski resorts are investing millions to upgrade their snowmaking equipment, thanks in part to an innovative rebate offer from Efficiency Vermont. The snow gun exchange program is expected to help the state’s ski industry reduce carbon emissions and save $2 million a year in energy costs.

Killington is one of about 15 participating resorts. 

On a recent visit, the resort's snow making control center was quiet. But in a few months, foreman Steve Reynolds pointed to a bank of computer screens he said would be humming.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory / AP File Photo

For the past few weeks, the wood-fired McNeil Generating Station in Burlington has been using wood chips from Pinewood Manor in Essex Junction, a 7.4 mile drive away. But the wood from Pinewood Manor has been taking a longer route, traveling nearly 80 miles by truck and train before it can be burned at McNeil.

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