Douglas endorses renewable energy plan

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas has endorsed an initiative that aims to have the country get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources. But critics say the governor’s support is hollow, because he remains opposed to large-scale wind projects.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Governor Douglas is running for e-election and Scudder Parker, his Democratic opponent, has criticized him for a lack of leadership on energy issues.

Now Douglas says Vermont will become the fourteenth state to sign on to a proposal to meet more of the country’s energy needs with renewable energy sources.

(Douglas) “This national energy initiative is aimed at producing 25 percent of the energy consumed in the United States from renewable sources by 2025. In addition to helping us reach our energy goals, and being good for our farmers and foresters, this program can help us create jobs in our rural areas, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, inspire new renewable energy technologies and reduce global warming.”

(Dillon) The initiative was launched in 2004 by a coalition led by farmers and ranchers. The focus is on ethanol fuel production, along with biomass, solar and wind energy development.

Paul Burns is executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. He says the “25 by 25” initiative has broad support around the country.

(Burns) “But I think people are getting tired of politicians who say one thing and do another. This Douglas Administration has absolutely no plan to get 25 percent’s of Vermont’s energy from renewable resources by 2025. They have in fact opposed our most abundant clean energy resource which is wind power in this state.”

(Dillon) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scudder Parker also questioned the timing of the governor’s announcement.

(Parker) “This is the triumph of packaging over performance. This program has been around for two years. The governor has failed in his job as the leader of energy planning and policy development for the state. And now when I have been raising the issue of a sustainable, livable, affordable, environmentally sound, economically beneficial energy policy the governor and Mr. Dubie trot this program out.”

(Dillon) But Douglas says he’s proud of his record on energy issues.

(Douglas) “We have the cleanest, most renewable energy portfolios in the country. About half of our electricity is generated from renewable sources. There aren’t many states that can say that.”

(Dillon) About a third of the state’s energy supply comes from large hydro-electric projects in Quebec. Douglas also cited his support of methane gas projects for agriculture, and a program that supports renewable energy projects in schools.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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