Daily Archives: March 20, 2016

Acceptable taint

The good people of Vernon have taken it in the shorts since the closing of Vermont Yankee. Actually, they’ve just begun to take it in the shorts. VTDigger’s Son of the South Mike Faher:

Vernon, like all of Windham County, still is in the early phases of grappling with the economic blow of Vermont Yankee’s shutdown. The workforce has been cut roughly in half since the plant stopped producing power Dec. 29, and more job losses are scheduled for 2016.

But, Faher reports, relief may be on the way — in the form of a proposed natural gas-fired power plant. Such a facility would take advantage of the robust electrical infrastructure that used to carry VY’s power far and wide. It wouldn’t provide as many jobs as the old nuke, but it would do much to soften the blow.

It’s all very tentative at this point. Such a plant would need a supply of natural gas, and right now it isn’t anywhere near a pipeline. However, there is a proposed pipeline that would run through northern Massachusetts a mere seven miles away from Vernon. Short spur pipeline northward, and voila — plenty of gas for a power plant.

I’m sure there will be plenty of opposition from the enviro community — FRACKED GAS, OMG OMG — although perhaps not as vociferous as in the case of the Vermont Gas Company pipeline through the Champlain Valley. But it brings to mind an interesting thought exercise: Is there an acceptable level of fracked-gas taint?

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More obstructionism from anti-renewable lawmakers

The Northeast Kingdom has become a hotbed of anti-renewable sentiment. They think they’re overburdened by the renewable buildout in their neck of the woods — although they seem to be just fine with Bill Stenger’s ambitious development plans, which would include a dramatic expansion of the Jay Peak resort with the concomitant loss of open space and wildlife habitat.

The Kingdom’s nominally Democratic Senators, Bobby Starr and John Rodgers, have proposed a bill that would effectively hamstring development of solar energy projects. They have a cover story, as they always do; this isn’t about energy, it’s about farming!

… the bill would apply Act 250 standards to renewable energy developments proposed for high-quality farmland.

Starr told finance committee members that he wants to balance the need for renewable energy with the need to conserve farmland, and he said the proposal could encourage solar development on more appropriate locations, such as rooftops.

Right. Rooftops. Vermont has so many of those.

There are a few problems with this bill. In no particular order:

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Your Daily Free Press, a shell of its former self

A bit of unintended irony in Friday’s Burlington Free Press. Page A13 featured a nice article about the awards given to the Freeploid by the Vermont Press Association.

Which, okay, whatever. The Free Press ought to take home a bunch of awards from the VPA. It is, by far, the biggest newspaper in the state. For the Freeploid, winning VPA awards is kind of like a 14-year-old faking his age and playing in Little League. Substantial built-in advantage.

But then, on page C3, there was a prime example of the Free Press’ diminished status. The page contained a column of Business Briefs, a series of items ripped straight from press releases and deployed to occupy space on a day when ad sales fall a bit short.

The first of the three started like this:

Walmart gives pay raises to 753 in Vermont

Walmart gave the largest single-day, privatesector [sic] pay increase ever on March 10 to more than 1.2 million Walmart and Sam’s Club employees in the United States, including 753 in Vermont. All employees hired before Jan. 1, 2016, will earn at least $9.60 an hour.

Well, isn’t that nice. How generous of an enterprise not known for its generosity.

But wait. Didn’t Vermont’s minimum wage just go up?

Why yes, in fact, it did. On January 1, the state minimum wage increased to… wait for it… $9.60 an hour.

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