By Rob Roper
PART 2 – Some cautionary advice for Vermonters
Patrick Moore, one of the original founders of Greenpeace, has been following the energy policies embraced by Vermont, and has some cautionary advice for the Green Mountain State.
Regarding the biggest question in the room, Vermont Yankee, Moore sees the best outcome as one in which the nuclear plant keeps
operating. “A judge is going to make a decision,” he said. “The best all round for everybody would be if he decided it should keep operating. That would be face-saving for the people who say they’re against it…. They can say, well, I tried.”
“But,” Moore argues, those opposed to Vermont Yankee are “wrong from an environmental point of view, and they are certainly wrong from a ratepayer point of view…. Everybody’s focused on wind and solar, the two most expensive, unreliable technologies there are on the renewable side. I mean, I’m in favor or renewable energy, but it needs to be cost effective, and it needs to be available when you want it.”
Other drawbacks of wind and solar include massive geographic footprints – the amount of landscape that needs to be sacrificed to produce the power — for wind and solar projects. For exampke, Moore says, “Solar panels have a very low power density, which means you need a huge array of them in order to get much of anything out of them… at a price that is going to be at least five times as much as you would pay for hydro or nuclear. Why would anyone in their right mind do that, I do not understand.”
Unfortunately, according to Moore, the energy solutions that have the best chances of succeeding in Vermont are not as politically popular, victims of what he calls “pop-environmentalism. “There’s a lot of people now in the environmental movement now saying we don’t want biomass energy anymore. At least it’s continuous [base load power], and Vermont has a massive base of forests here that could be utilized to some extent, and reforested, of course.” Even so, Moore points out that nuclear and hydro power are the only large scale electricity technologies that can realistically take the place fossil fuels on a massive scale.
“Vermont is on a path that will lead to a few people getting rich from renewable energy because they’re being given it on a plate with a twenty year guarantee of so many cents a kilowatt hour.” This is the same path that has led to severe economic problems in Europe today. “In Germany they’re paying 50 to 70 cents a kilowatt hour. It’s the same in Spain and France…. They’ve been pouring all these billions of Euros down a rat hole to get almost no electricity at and exorbitant price.”
Moore looks to what’s really happening in Germany now that the government there has committed to eliminating it’s nuclear power industry by 2022. “Now they’ve shut down eight of their nuclear plants, instantly becoming an electricity importer, whereas before they were a minor electricity exporter. They’re importing three billion euros worth of electricity from France every year, and pretending they don’t like nuclear energy. At the same time, they’ve decided to phase out their remaining nine nuclear power plants by 2022.”
“Officially,” Moore points out, “they say they’re going to replace that with wind and solar. This is actually technically impossible to replace what is approximately 20 gigawatts of baseload, 24/7 power – you simply can’t replace that with wind and solar. So what they’re really doing is using the wind and solar as window dressing for a massive buildup of new fossil fuel plants…. So, they have a policy to reduce their CO2 emissions in Germany by 40% by 2020 – it’s going to increase by 40% if anything.”
“I think Vermont needs to take a really hard look at what it’s proposing here and whether or not it’s going to be good. And,” warns Moore, “it’s not. If Vermont Yankee gets shut down, the carbon footprint of Vermont will certainly go up because you’ve got to get base load power from somewhere… In addition, the rates will go up because if you push for wind and solar as the renewables of your choice, they just plain cost a lot more — there’s no way out of that — and they have to be backed up by some source of reliable power that you’re going to have to build.”
“So, in the end, a few people get rich, and everybody pays more for their electricity, and it stifles the growth of the economy, and it will cause people to leave Vermont and go where the electricity is more reasonable.”
Read Part 1 of this interview, Pop Environmentalism vs. Science, HERE.