When it comes time to doing the right thing on issues of major importance, Vermonters don’t just sit on their hands. From banning slavery to launching marriage equality and prohibiting fracking to building the nation’s first single payer health care program, Vermonters have never been afraid to lead.
Even in cases where Vermont cannot solve the problem on our own, our citizens have always been willing to do their part. When challenged to collect scrap metal for the war effort in 1942, Vermonters pitched in an average of 155 pounds for every man, woman and child in the state. That was highest in the nation and far ahead of the national average of 82 pounds per person.
Today we’re confronted with another critical challenge – our health, environment and future depend on our collective capacity to generate the energy we need in an affordable and sustainable way, while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Once again, Vermont has stepped up to the plate to lead. After many months of work and a tremendous amount of public input, the state adopted a plan calling for 90% of our energy needs (electricity, heating and transportation) to be met with renewable resources by 2050.
Renewable energy is not only good for our environment, it produces local jobs and benefits our economy as well. That’s why a huge majority of Vermonters support green energy production right here in the state. In fact, a public opinion survey released by WCAX TV in May of 2012 found that nearly 70% of Vermonters support wind development on ridgelines while just 17% opposed it.
And we’re not just talking about clean energy, we’re actually doing it. As of the end of 2012, Vermont-based renewable wind turbines now generate enough electricity to power more than 45,000 our homes.
VPIRG’s Plan for a Clean Energy Future
Imagine a Vermont that relies on safe, clean, affordable sources for virtually all of its electricity needs. Windfarms dot a handful of ridgelines, supplying power for tens of thousands of households and working family farms. Those farms and sustainable forestry supply fuel for efficient biomass energy that helps heat Vermont homes and businesses. And solar panels are a common and accepted feature of many rooftops, backyards and fields.
The state’s longterm energy plan calls for Vermont to satisfy 90 percent of its energy needs with renewable energy by the year 2050. VPIRG’s own research shows that by 2025, we could be getting almost all of the electricity we will need by improving our efficiency and ramping up in-state renewable energy production.
VPIRG supports a plan to generate at least 25 percent of Vermont’s electricity needs from in-state wind power by 2025. This would require an additional 380 MW of installed capacity, or 126 more 3MW turbines at 33% capacity factor in the state.
Climate change is happening now. We’re breaking our promise to keep the future safe for the next generation. We owe it to our kids and grandkids to face the facts—and get to work before it’s too late.
It’s happening fast. Breaking daily temperature records across the country and in VT, 2012 was the hottest year on record in the US. Half the arctic sea-ice melted in 2012, and scientists predict the arctic could be ice-free in as few as 3 years.
It’s happening here. Tropical Storm Irene is just one example in the trend of more frequent and more destructive rain and snowstorms. Vermonters today experience roughly twice the number of heavy rain or snowstorms than we did just 65 years ago. And, with the largest annual storms dumping 35% more precipitation, we can expect more of the local impacts we’re already seeing.
Unless we act, it’s going to get a lot worse. Right now, we’re on the path to raising the Earth’s average temperature by 6 degrees.
The avoidable costs of dirty, dangerous energy are just too high
Climate change isn’t the only reason to reject dirty and dangerous sources of energy. We have a chance to demonstrate to other states and to the federal government what it means to make truly responsible energy choices.
If we can generate the power we need for electricity, heat and transportation through sustainable, local power, then we’ll prove that it’s possible for our nation to turn away from the dirty, dangerous and expensive power we’re addicted to today.
- Just like Vermont Yankee, 75 percent of nuclear plants in the US have leaked cancer-causing tritium. 49 million Americans brush their teeth from water sourced within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant.
- Mountaintop removal has already leveled 500 mountains, decimating 1.2 million acres of forest in central and southern Appalachia alone.
- The BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010 dumped 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, contaminating thousands of miles of coastline, and could end up costing coastal communities $8.7 billion and close to 22,000 lost jobs.”
- Almost half of America wakes up every day breathing air containing dangerous levels of air pollution, like smog and soot.
- The cost of polluting power plants is too high, in both dollars and lives. The price tag? Roughly 12,000 emergency room visits, 9,700 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 heart attacks—total health impacts comes in at $100 billion per year.
Big Oil and Coal knows it can’t convince us that our dependence on dirty, expensive fossil fuels is good—that’s why they need to spend so much money on slick PR campaigns spreading doubt and denial. It’s the same thing Big Tobacco did, and it’s some of the same people paying for it. Getting locals to do their dirty work is just part of their big plan.
They want to manipulate us—to delay progress, and so they can keep rigging the system against new clean energy. Frustration, uncertainty, defeat—that’s what the Fossil Fuel industry is spending millions trying to make you feel.
We can’t afford to keep buying their lies, or the next generation of Vermonters will pay the price.
Wind is part of the solution
We have what it takes to make Vermont’s energy future safe, clean and affordable.
• New wind generation is the least expensive form of new, renewable energy we could build in VT today (less than half the price per watt than solar PV)
• Unlike fossil fuels, wind power produces no emissions; it does not contribute to global warming
• Energy from new wind projects will displace the energy we’re currently getting from fossil fuels, primarily natural gas-fired plants, which currently provide about 50% of New England’s power
• If all the projects currently sited in VT are built, we could lower carbon emissions by 376.8 million pounds every year.
…that’s equivalent to taking 35,607 cars off the road for a year!
One 3M wind turbine will produce the same amount of power as:
• 1,528 residential 5 kW solar installations
• 1,003 5.5 kW solar trackers
• 828 residential 10 kW wind turbines
• 62 community 100 kW wind turbines