Wind, solar manufacturers say state loses opportunity with vote

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(Host) Manufacturers of wind turbines and solar energy systems say the state has lost an economic development opportunity.

They were hopeful new tax credits and other measures would be enacted to boost the renewable energy industry.

But yesterday, a bill that included those incentives got caught up in a veto fight between the governor and the Legislature.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd has more.

(Sound of construction equipment)

(Sneyd) NRG is the world’s largest maker of wind measuring devices, which are used in wind turbines.

And the Hinesburg company is expanding. Last year David Blittersdorf created a new company, Earth Turbines, to build small-scale wind turbines for home owners.

(Blittersdorf) “Every day we’re loading a couple of truckloads of towers going out the door.”

(Sneyd) While contractors work to expand his company’s headquarters, he’s dreaming of building a small-scale wind tower in practically every American’s back yard.

But he says the government has to help with incentives to manufacturers and consumers to drive down the 22-thousand-dollar cost of a wind generator.

(Blittersdorf) “You need a very big incentive to get them to change their behavior. Because we’ve got this 100-plus year-old behavior that fossil fuels are the way you do things. We have to change the behavior and it requires a big incentive and then that incentive can drop down over time. But you have to start it big and then people move.”

(Sneyd) There were more than a dozen incentives in the energy bill vetoed by the governor, including an expansion of net-metering. Net metering allows a consumer to produce his own electricity and send any extra back out over the transmission network.

Jeff Wolf is the president of GroSolar in White River Junction.

The company makes solar energy systems and Wolf says those incentives would have encouraged more people to install them.

He also says it would have created jobs at his company.

(Wolf) “Vermont every day continues to fall behind. And it’s really a shame when the governor is willing to use taxpayer money to travel to China but isn’t willing to help the Vermont taxpayers with some economic development in the environmental sector.”

(Sneyd) For now companies like GroSolar say they’ll concentrate their efforts on states that are more supportive – Ohio, Delaware and New Jersey.

Meanwhile David Blittersdorf at NRG says he’s committed to building Earth Turbines even without the Vermont incentives.

He thinks the day will come when the demand is there. So the construction at NRG continues.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd in Hinesburg.

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