Environment

AP/Toby Talbot

The operator of Vermont’s electric grid warns that customers will face higher and higher transmission costs unless some regional power line projects are scaled back or canceled.

The Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) says some costly projects could be avoided in New England as the growth of distributed, solar energy systems eases the strain on the grid.

VPR/John Dillon

Of all the issues surrounding large-scale wind projects, perhaps the most personal and difficult one to resolve is the impact of the sound produced by the turbines.

In Sheffield, a family says they have to move because the noise from nearby turbines has become unbearable.

The state paid for testing last winter that showed the project operates within limits. But the state says the study was flawed and that it’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions from the report.

Courtesy, NH Fish And Wildlife

Fish and game officials from two states  are gathering public opinion on a plan to stock the Moore Reservoir, between Waterford, Vermont and Littleton, New Hampshire,  with walleye. State biologists say the popular eating fish would thrive in the reservoir, which is fed by the Connecticut River.

Representatives of some of Vermont's best known businesses and state politicians are calling on the federal government to do more to combat climate change.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and other political leaders joined Wednesday with Vermont-based brands Burton Snowboards, Ben & Jerry's, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and other groups highlighting the impacts of climate change on Vermont businesses.

VPR/Claudia Marshall

Dozens of Charlotte residents are spending hours, voluntarily, pulling weeds out of a local wetland this summer.  It’s part of an organized effort to control an invasive species that threatens to choke the life right out of an otherwise vibrant ecosystem. 

On a beautiful, breezy evening and half a dozen people are paddling around in kayaks and canoes, pulling from the water a plant that looks like a bunch of little lily pads.

AP/Toby Talbot

Solar energy projects are blossoming across Vermont, spurred by a state law that allows customers to zero out their electric bill by sending power back to the grid.

But there’s some concern that the solar boom has a downside as it shifts some of a utility’s costs to other customers.

Vermont law allows “net metering.” That means a utility must credit a customer at least 20 cents for every kilowatt hour of renewable electricity they produce.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he's disappointed that the operator of the region's electric grid decided to scale back renewable energy production during peak energy demand caused by the recent heat wave.

In a letter to the president and CEO of ISO New England, Shumlin criticizes the grid operator's decision to increase output from coal and oil power plants while scaling back renewable energy production. He says the decision runs counter to the state of Vermont's policies, which are aimed at increasing production of clean, local, renewable energy, such as wind power.

AP/Toby Talbot

Last week, when electricity demand hit a near all time high in New England, the operator of the regional electric grid ordered the Lowell, Vt. wind project to cut its power output. 

The move baffles the utility and wind developers. They question why a renewable energy project was scaled back when polluting power plants everywhere in the region were told to run full blast.

As the heat wave peaked last Friday, electricity demand in New England soared to almost 28,000 megawatts as people cranked up their air conditioners and fans to keep cool.

Nancy Carey

Wed 7/24/13 Noon & 7PM When you find bird with a broken wing outside your living room window, who do you call? There are 16 people in this state licensed to rehabilitate wild animals. They take in animals of all kinds (except ungulates) and follow strict protocols to get them back into the wild safely.

We'll talk to Kim Royar from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and wildlife rehabilitators Nancy Carey and Craig Newman.

AP/Toby Talbot

After years of pressure by environmentalists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a plan that gets Vermont into compliance with the Clean Water Act.

The EPA says one issue remains unresolved. The agency says towns will have to pay to upgrade sewage plants even if state funds are not available.

briantf / Flickr

Mon 7/22/13 Noon & 7PM Gardeners are normally excited to get some rain and heat.  This summer has been a little different.  Horticulturist Charlie Nardozzi joins us to offer some advice on how to deal with this weather. We'll also address summer pests and planting for the fall. Send your gardening questions to vermontedition@vpr.net or leave your comments below.

With hot and humid weather expected to continue for another day or so, ISO New England has asked consumers to voluntarily conserve power during peak hours, especially the afternoon and early evening.

But the current heat wave has not put the strain on New England’s power grid as deeply as in past years.

Dorothy Schnure of Green Mountain Power says that past heat waves set new peaks of usage, and occasionally caused some generating units to go down.

About 25 people are walking the route of an oil pipeline in the Northeast Kingdom to raise awareness about potential plans to ship tar sands oil across the region.

The pipeline crosses 10 towns in northern Vermont. A pipeline executive said last winter the company is looking for new business, including using the line to ship tar sands oil east from Canada to Portland, Maine.

AP/Toby Talbot

State utility regulators are considering sanctions against Green Mountain Power for violating sound limits at its Lowell wind project last winter.

GMP says the problem was caused by snow build-up on the turbine blades. It says the violations were extremely limited and that monitoring now shows that it’s in full compliance.

Don Nelson and his wife Shirley live just below the Lowell ridgeline. He doesn’t have sound monitoring equipment at his farmhouse, but he describes a thunderous noise from the turbines one weekend in early November last year.

sectionhiker.com / Flickr

Thurs 07/11/13 Noon and 7PM  It’s late at night and you’re desperate to get to sleep, but there’s one solitary mosquito whining around your room. Mosquitoes are more than just an annoyance, though. They can carry deadly diseases, and it seems like there’s more of them every year.

We'll talk with state entomologist Alan Graham and infectious disease epidemiologist Erica Berl to learn more about mosquitoes, the diseases they carry, and how to get rid of them.

Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Basin Program

The last two months of heavy rains have pushed Lake Champlain to near flood stage, and aggravated the lake’s pollution problems.

The high water and increased pollution comes as federal and state officials are preparing a clean up plan for the lake.

The plan will likely include everything from new limits on sewage treatment plants to increased controls on storm water.

As if persistent rains haven't done enough to thwart outdoor recreation this year, state health officials say heavy runoff in recent weeks could turn rivers, ponds and lakes into breeding grounds for algae blooms and disease-causing pathogens.

Some of the wettest months on record have ensured an oversupply of nutrients in Lake Champlain and elsewhere, heightening the risk of blue-green algae blooms that sometimes contain toxins. Experts say the high waters of late could also translate into increased levels of E. coli, which can signal the presence of other unhealthy bacteria.

Hinesburg Joins Lawsuit Over Well Contamination

Jul 8, 2013

A drinking water well used by the town of Hinesburg is contaminated with low levels of the gasoline additive, MTBE.

Although the levels are below the threshold considered dangerous for drinking, town officials are eager to clean up the pollution problem. 

Hinesburg now plans to join a lawsuit against major oil companies to recover costs for the clean-up.

Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) was added to gasoline to boost octane performance and to make the fuel burn cleaner.

theclyde / Flickr

Mon July 8, 7pm and 12Noon We’ve probably all had that frustrating moment trying to set up the tent in the near dark. We’ll learn some tips and tricks to avoid camping disasters. What's your worst camping horror story? Email vermontedition@vpr.net or post your stories below.

We'll talk to Frank Spaulding and Sarah Clark, stars of the camping how-to videos on the State Parks Website.

AP/Toby Talbot

Biologists say moose herds across parts of northern New England are facing a new challenge with ticks because of recent warmer winters.

They believe the milder weather has helped increase the populations of a tick species that can cover large moose with an estimated 150,000 ticks, about half of which can grow to the size of a grape.

Vermont moose biologist Cedric Alexander says the ticks could be contributing to a decline in the reproduction rates and general health of the state's moose population, estimated now at about 3,000 animals.

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