Scott supports renewable energy bill

VERGENNES — The governor of Vermont backs the notion of increasing the state’s commitment to energy produced from renewable sources, but he said at Monday’s legislative breakfast in Vergennes that he isn’t in favor of all kinds of renewable energy here.
One of the topics at the breakfast was S.51, the so-called “90-percent renewables by 2050” bill. Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, is chief architect of the bill, which would require the state to meet specific benchmarks on the road to meeting Vermont’s goal of satisfying 90 percent of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2050.
Gov. Phil Scott supports the “90 percent by 2050” goal, but said he does not want that strategy to include more large-scale wind turbines on the state’s ridgelines. He instead emphasized solar arrays and hydropower that he believes could be sourced in greater quantities from neighboring Quebec.
“We don’t need to destroy our ridgelines for renewable energy,” Scott said.
Rep. Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh, cautioned the state could face some financial consequences from boosting its renewable energy portfolio too quickly. Renewable energy can be more costly to produce and more expensive to purchase. Vermont, according to Van Wyck, currently has the fourth-highest electric rates in the nation. He said only Alaska, Hawaii and Connecticut have higher rates than Vermont’s.
“If you don’t balance this properly, you’re going to see increases,” Van Wyck said.
Some participants at Monday’s breakfast questioned the wisdom of building renewable energy projects on quality farmland. But Middlebury resident Tim Buskey noted farmers can usually bank on a greater financial return for a solar project than for the crops they could grow on the same space.
“When the country decides that food is more important, then we’ll see a reversal in that,” he said.
Scott praised the state’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and believes “Vermonters are doing their fair share and more” in addressing climate change.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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