The construction of large wind energy projects will be a key issue in this year’s gubernatorial race. That’s because Republican candidate Randy Brock supports a multi year moratorium on the construction of any new projects.
Franklin senator Randy Brock is not a big fan of the renewable energy policies of the Shumlin Administration.
Brock says he visited a large wind project in Sheffield last month. There are 16 wind turbines at the site that are now producing electricity. Brock says he didn’t like what he saw.
"I’m concerned by the large amount of land that has to be bulldozed and opened up in order to get these towers up to the top of the mountains," Brock said. "People don’t come to Vermont to look at wind towers with lights with noise and with all the associated issues that go along with them."
Brock is also concerned about the economics of these projects. He says they have large government subsidies and the state is required to pay higher than market rates for the power produced at these sites:
"I’m concerned about the economic viability of renewable technologies that aren’t going to reduce our carbon footprint, that aren’t going to result in the closing of any gas fired or oil fired power plants," Brock said. "Because those plants will still need to be in operation and perhaps even dirtier than they were before in order to provide back up for the intermittent power sources that are on and off depending upon the sun is shining or the wind is blowing," he said.
Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks this is an issue where Brock can gain some traction in his race against incumbent governor Peter Shumlin.
"If Brock were to make the argument that some of the energy policy that the Shumlin Administration is proposing is going to lead to higher rates for Vermonters across the board because it depends on heavily subsidized forms of renewable energy which would be priced above market or there’s uncertainty as to where the other sources will come from," Davis said. "I think if Brock were to make that kind of argument about energy he might be able to make some headway."
Brock says he was pleased that lawmakers at the end of the session rejected a Shumlin plan to require utilities to get 35 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2032.