Flemming: Big solar tries to fleece Vermonters (again)

By David Flemming

Vermont has reached solar saturation, creating the possibility that parts of our electric grid could malfunction and leave thousands without power for days. But some large renewable energy companies are trying to lobby our government for yet more solar.

Nearly 50 percent of Vermont’s 150 electrical power substations are at risk of “transmission ground fault overvoltage” (TGFOV) if more solar is added. As developers and homeowners use net metering to supply more solar electricity generation to our grid, the load (demand for electricity) has stayed constant with our stagnant population. This means that if homeowners add solar panels to the grid, something as common as a tree falling on a power line could send a surge of destruction back toward substation transformers.

Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

Flemming: “Vermont has, quite literally, more solar generated electricity than we know what to do with.”

In February, Green Mountain Power (GMP) filed with Vermont’s regulatory authority, the Public Utility Commission, to charge $75 per kilowatt for new solar projects. Since the average residential solar project is around 6 kilowatts, the average developer/homeowner would be charged $450.

A renewable energy trade group, Renewable Energy Vermont, was able to negotiate with GMP to decrease that $450 size-dependent fee to a $37 flat fee which would be used to fund the grid upgrades. Now, a 92 percent fee reduction does seem a little drastic. Did Green Mountain Power suddenly figure out how to make the grid upgrades at a tenth of the initial cost?

Still, some renewable energy magnates weren’t satisfied with this amazingly generous reduction in fees. David Blittersdorf’s solar company, All Earth Renewables, lambasted the $37 fee for still being too high: the “distribution grid of today and tomorrow must be available (read: “free to developers”) if a more electrified renewable-powered society is going to make a difference in addressing climate change.” To that point, the grid upgrades “should be borne by ratepayers — the collective beneficiaries of Vermont’s renewable energy laws and policies.”

Raise your hand if you’ve felt like a “collective beneficiary” of top-10-in-the-nation electric rates. Blittersdorf has used his political connections to grow a fledgling business dependent on subsidies into a $20 million annual revenue behemoth. Renewable companies don’t need more tax dollars. They’ve already gotten millions from Vermont.

It’s time to see if they can survive, weaned off the government teat. We’ve given them a two-decade head start. Companies that depend on taxpayers to do business don’t deserve Vermont’s corporate welfare. It’s time they learn how difficult it can be to run a business in Vermont without government assistance. If they can’t manage with that, they will never be able to manage on their own.

An electric grid that wasn’t designed with net metering in mind limits how much solar Vermont can absorb. Vermont has, quite literally, more solar generated electricity than we know what to do with. A blatant cash grab on the part of renewable companies is the only reason Vermont would invest in more solar. But it’s not a very good reason.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Stausifr and Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

9 thoughts on “Flemming: Big solar tries to fleece Vermonters (again)

  1. If solar system owners were required to put in batteries to smooth their electricity output, before feeding into distribution or high voltage grids, all these problems would not exist, and there would be no duck curves, because the batteries would absorb any excess electricity during midday, and give it up during peak hours in late afternoon/early evening to help reduce the GMP peak load on the NE grid.

    That would be the logical solution.

    Solar would become a really useful contributor, like the traditional sources, and not just be a disturber.

  2. Solar has a terrible habit of getting high at midday (when demand is low,) and then passing out in late afternoon/early evening (when demand is high), not to reappear for work until late in the next morning, somewhat like a habitual drunk sobering up.

    The drunk does not like to work much during rainy, overcast or snowy weather, and his work output jumps up and down with variable cloudiness. And that drunk-like behavior is heavily subsidized!!

    Such a drunk is much loved by good-doers using other people’s money. He, an occasional “worker”, enjoys various generous government programs to bribe him to show up at all, such as upfront cash grants, upfront tax credits, low-cost loans, feed-in tariffs, production tax credits, and loan interest and asset depreciation write-offs to avoid paying taxes. What more could he ask for?

    What kind of worker is that? There is nothing reliable or productive (“on demand”) about him!!
    He does not deserve to be coddled.
    No wonder he behaving like a spoiled brat, i.e., disturbing the peace on the grid.
    And the parents (the owners), whose children are disturbing the peace on the grid, complain they, after all these years, finally have to pay someone (GMP) to foolproof the grid against such unruly brats to maintain the peace on the grid.
    Those parents would rather have others (ratepayers) do the paying, as usual.

    Innocent bystanders (other ratepayers) have to foot the bill to clean up the mess, i.e., put more money in Blittersdorf’s pockets, who already is a big time multi-millionaire? Totally insane!!

    That is what happens when a bunch of rosy-eyed bureaucrat idiots meddle in the electric power sector.
    The same types meddle in the VT health sector and education sector, and we all know how expensive they have become.
    When will all this nonsense end?

    And Bernie, with three houses, and a $70,000 car, and flying on private planes spewing CO2, and not liking a wall to protect our southern border, and having his own tax exempt foundation, and promising more and more goodies to everyone to raise his poll numbers, is campaigning for even more US-style socialism to benefit his foundation, a la Clintons!!

  3. Thank you David Fleming for this most important research. All news to me when I have been a vigourous opponent of huge wholesale solar.

    Blittersdorf has done FAR more harm to Vt, than any good that solar might have been for specific locations and needs.

  4. The overload problem with solarcan be quickly and simply solved by requiring Act 250 compliance. Gone. Unfortunately, the feel good folks in Montpelier will never do it..

  5. Solar has a terrible habit of getting high at midday when demand is low, and then it passes out in late afternoon/early evening when demand is high, not to reappear for work until late in the next morning, somewhat like an habitual drunk.

    What kind of electricity is that?
    There is nothing “on demand” about that!!
    No wonder it is disturbing the grid

    And that drunk-like behavior is heavily subsidized!!
    And the owners, who are disturbing the peace on the grid, complain they, after all these years, finally have to pay someone, GMP, to maintain order.
    They would rather have the ratepayers do the paying, as usual

    Innocent bystanders, other ratepayers, have to foot the bill to clean up the mess, i.e., put more money in Blittersdorf’s pockets, who already is a big time multi-millionaire. Totally insane!!

    That is what happens when a bunch of bureaucrat idiots try to meddle in the electric power sector.

    The same type idiots are running the VT health sector and education sector, and we all know how expensive that has become.

    When will all this nonsense end?

    And Bernie is campaigning for even more socialism!!

    • “When will all this nonsense end?”

      Maybe after repeated brown outs during the “hot’s” of summer when the Chittenden co.
      elites have no AC and the media tells the truth about who’s to blame..Just maybe
      they’ll vote different.

  6. the greed is amazing, give my 37 dollars ! Sadly ALL is “profits” were subsidized by the Vermont tax payer and the federal tax payer, he should be a bit more grateful, he’d be penniless without them.

    Cronyism is entrenched with in Vermont, it’s a first cousin to socialism.

  7. More subsidies provided by other rate-payers to solar owners via GMP … besides the over-priced credits for each kilowatt-hour they produce. Actually they are rather regressive subsidies — favoring the rich.

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