New Energy Bill

This in from Seven Days:

John and Kay Antos don’t live off the grid, but thanks to the solar panels soaking up rays outside the couple’s hilltop home in Starksboro, their electric bills are negligible.

The Antoses are among the more than 1300 Vermonters enrolled in the state’s net-metering program, an experiment launched in 1999 that lets farmers, homeowners and businesses generate their own power using small, grid-connected solar, wind or biomass systems.

A few muddy steps from the Antoses’ red clapboard farmhouse is a 20-cell solar tracker that supplies the power for their hot-water heater, lights, electric stove and other appliances.

On cloudy days, when the panels don’t generate enough energy to power the house, the Antoses supplement with electricity from the local utility, Vermont Electric Cooperative, just like most of their neighbors. But on bright, sunny days, the panels produce more than enough power for their home. That’s when the electric meter spins backward.

The excess power, which is measured in kilowatt hours, goes back into the regional power grid and is applied as a credit to the Antoses’ future electric bills. As part of a power-sharing agreement — called “group net metering” — those energy credits are split between the Antoses and their daughter and son-in-law, who live “25 minutes by snowshoe” up the hill.

“It’s awfully green,” observes John Antos, a retired schoolteacher with a gravelly voice.

Last week, the Vermont House passed an energy bill designed to make it more attractive for Vermonters to produce their own power using net metering. If the legislation, H.56, becomes law, net-metered ratepayers like the Antoses would get even more value for the power their solar systems produce, further lowering their already minuscule electric bills.

The energy bill was a big news story last week, but not because of anything to do with net metering. Rather, the legislation provoked fierce fighting — and an intervention by Gov. Peter Shumlin — over a proposed 55¢ monthly surcharge on electricity customers to fund the state’s Clean Energy Development Fund. The idea was shelved after Shumlin promised lawmakers he’d come up with “a better idea.”

Full Article

Vermont National Guard Goes Solar

Photo courtesy FreeFoto.com, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Speaking of solar, WPTZ reported this morning that the Vermont Air Guard base in South Burlington breaks ground Monday on an $8.5 million project that starts with “a solar electrical generating plant, a fixed-ground array and a roof mounted application which will generate 1,650 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.”

The project should reduce the Air Guard’s annual emissions by 25 tons of carbon dioxide.

Solar Farming

solar_farm.jpg

This morning, while driving into work, I caught this fantastic article on VPR, about a Ferrisburgh solar farm that’s about to come online, with the potential to generate up to a megawatt of power. The developers are hoping that this is the first start to a larger movement:

If you’ve driven North on Route 7 through the town of Ferrisburgh lately, you’ve probably noticed it.
As you crest the hill, a huge solar installation has taken shape. And some have commented that it’s shaped like the state of Vermont, although that’s not what planners intended.
The Ferrisburgh Solar Farm is the largest installation of its kind in the state, providing 1 megawatt of power, creating enough power for 170 homes. The project includes 3,800 panels covering 10 acres of land.

Click here for the interview.

This is really well worth listening to – the developers, Brian Waxler and Ernie Pomerleau, seem to understand that there needs to be changes in the nation’s energy policy, and as they say it, they’d rather have jobs coming to the US, and using supplimental power to help ease the demand for energy in the country.

You can take a look at the Solar Farm’s website, with more detailed information about the project, over at http://www.ferrisburghsolarfarm.com. What’s also cool? You can take a look at it’s current power levels here.

Geek Things for March 29th

  • Green Drinks, 6–8PM, Lake Lobby, Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center, Burlington. Free. (Environmentalism)
  • ‘Solar for Architects’. RSVP for free pizza and beverages. 12–1PM, Vermont Green Offices, Burlington. Free. (Solar)
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive: Colchester, 12–5:30PM, St. Michael’s College, Colchester. Free. (Blood Drive)
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive: Newport, 12:30–5:30PM, North Country Union High School, Newport. Free. (Blood Drive)
  • Creative Tuesdays, 3–5PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Kids)
  • Open Computer Time, 3–4:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Science & Stories, 11AM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Kids)
  • Brown Bag Lunch History Talk – The life of Joseph Hoag, a Quaker who moved to Vermont in the 1790s. 12PM, Sheldon Museum, Middlebury. $2. (History)
  • ‘Our Future: With or Without Vermont Yankee’, 7pm, Common Ground Café, Harwood Union High School, South Duxbury. Free. (Energy)
  • Boardgame Night, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • HeroClix!, 7:30pm – 11:00pm, Game Lounge, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • “Neurobiology of Methyl-mercury,” 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Living and Learning Commons, room 315, UVM Campus, Burlington. (Science)
  • “SIENA Models for Network and Behavior Dynamics: Innovative Designs and Analyses to Examine Selection and Influence Processes,” 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., John Dewey Hall 100, UVM Campus, Burlington. (Science)
  • Solar Energy and our Electricity Future, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Billings Library, North Lounge B300, UVM Campus, Burlington. (Energy)

Geek Things for March 24th

  • American Red Cross Blood Drive, 12–5PM, Johnson State College, Johnson. Free. (Blood Drive)
  • Chess Club, 7PM, Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington. $2-3. (Chess)
  • Mud Season Book Sale. Proceeds support library programs and services. 9AM–5PM, Brownell Library, Essex Junction. Free. (Books)
  • ‘Pawsitive Pup’, 6–7:30PM, Hunger Mountain Co-op, Montpelier. Donations accepted. (Pets)
  • Green Mountain Film Festival. Visit greenmountainfilmfestival.org. 12–10PM, Various locations, Montpelier. Various prices. (Films)
  • Open Computer Time, 3–4:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Computers)
  • Charles A. Dana Category 1 2011 Lecture Series – “Merchant Princess and Irish Abolitionist: The Story of Isabel Jennings.” 12:15-1, Multipurpose Room, Kreitzberg Library, Norwich University, Northfield. Free. (Talk)
  • Lani Guinier – “Diversity, Opportunity and the Shifting Meritocracy in Higher Education.” 7–8PM, Ira Allen Chapel, UVM, Burlington. Free. (Talk)
  • Warmachine / Hordes, 5pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games Gamespace, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Living with Coal, and Fighting Back, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Waterman Building 413, UVM, Burlington. (Energy)
  • Gideon Rose Lecture, author of ‘How Wars End’, 12:15 – 1:30pm, Robert A Jones ’59 Conference Room, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Talk)

 

Geek Things for March 4th

  • American Red Cross Blood Drive, 12–5:30PM, Congregational Church, Bradford. Free. (Blood Drive)
  • Book & Bake Sale, 9AM–12PM, Grace United Methodist Church, Essex Junction. Free. (Books)
  • ‘Name That Movie!’, 5–6PM, The CineClub, Savoy Theater, Montpelier. $2.50. (Movies)
  • Shabana Basij-Rasikh – “Afghan Women Working for Change.” 10:30am, Farrell Room, St. Edmund’s Hall, St. Michael’s College, Colchester. Free. (Talk)
  • ‘GasLand’, 7PM, Catamount Arts Center, St. Johnsbury. $4-7. (Energy)
  • ‘Draw Comics!’, 3–4:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Kids)
  • Science & Stories – Moose, 11AM, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington. Regular admission, $8.50-10.50; free for kids 2 and under. (Kids)
  • Bruce A. Gibbard, M.D. Memorial Lectureship Program – “What Happened to Our Shared Understanding of Mental Health?” / “Clinical Implications of Assessing Overall Mental Health: Treatment of Paranoid Patients as a Case in Point.”, 10:15AM / 1PM, Davis Auditorium, Medical Education Center Pavilion, Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington. Free. (Health, Talk)
  • ‘Communities and Justice: Inequality and Innovation in America’s Justice System’, 12:30–2PM, Middlebury College, Middlebury. Free. (Talk)
  • ‘Death With Dignity: From Oregon to Vermont’, 6:30PM, Memorial Building, Hardwick. Free. (Talk)
  • Dr. Diane Zuniga – “Medical Interventions Used to Treat Childhood Disorders”. Preregister. 9AM–12PM, Alumni Conference Room, Angell College Center, SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh. Free. (Talk)
  • FNM – Friday Night Magic – Type 2 / Standard – $8 Entry Fee, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Intercon K, Mar 4 – 6 2011, Westin Waltham-Boston (Conventions)
  • Friday Night Magic — Constructed, 6pm – 10pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Member and Invited Guest Star Party (weather permitting), Call Jack St. Louis 802-658-0184 (H), 802-656-1287 or Paul Walker 802-388-4220 (H), 802-861-8640 (W), GMO (Green Mountian Observatory), Observatory Road, Hinesburg. (Astronomy)

Geek Things for March 2nd


  • Small Agricultural Business Workshop, 7:15PM, Hazen Union High School, Hardwick. $15 per class. (Agriculture)
  • Renewable Energy Workshop, 6–7PM, Hunger Mountain Co-op, Montpelier. Free. (Energy)
  • ‘Smart About Solar’, 7–8:30PM, Library, Charlotte Central School, Charlotte. Free. (Solar)
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive, 12–5:30PM, Shelburne Town Hall, Shelburne. Free. (Vampires)
  • Chittenden County Philatelic Club, 6:15PM, GE Healthcare Building, South Burlington. Free. (Stamps)
  • Milton Historical Society Meeting, 6PM, Milton Historical Society, Milton. Free. (History)
  • ‘Tech Savvy’, 6–8PM, Bradford Public Library, Bradford. Free. (Skype)
  • ‘Restless’, 7PM, Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover. $5-7. (Films)
  • High School Book Group, 5–6PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Middle School Book Group, 4–5PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Teens)
  • Annelise Orleck – “Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire & its lasting impact on workplace safety laws”, 7PM, Rutland Free Library, Rutland. Free. (Talk)
  • ‘Communities and Justice: Inequality and Innovation in America’s Justice System’, 7PM, Middlebury College, Middlebury. Free. (Talk)
  • ‘Death With Dignity: From Oregon to Vermont’, 6:30PM, St. Albans Historical Museum, St. Albans. Free. (Talk))
  • Dr. François Clemmons – “If You Don’t Want Your Slave to Speak Freely, You Should Forbid Him to Sing!”, 7PM, First United Methodist Church, Burlington. Free. (Talk)
  • Dr. Mary Childers – “A memoirist discusses her broken childhood in Welfare Brat”, 7PM, Ilsley Public Library, Middlebury. Free. (Talk)
  • Paul Searls – Two Vermonts: Geography and Identity, 1865-1910, 7PM, St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, St. Johnsbury. Free. (Talk)
  • Vermont Law Symposium – “China’s Environmental Governance: Global Challenges and Comparative Solutions,” 9:30AM, Vermont Law School, South Royalton. Free. (Talk)
  • Writers’ Group, 7–9PM, Johnson Public Library, Johnson. Free. (Writing)
  • Magic Booster Draft – $12, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Global and Regional Studies Brown Bag Lecture, 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. — Old Mill John Dewey Lounge 325, UVM, Burlington. (Talk)
  • Physics Department Colloquium – “A Luttinger Liquid Core Inside Helium-4 Filled Nanopores “, 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Davis Student Center, The Mildred Livak Room, UVM, Burlington. (Physics)
  • The Writer’s Workshop fiction reading – Bonnie Jo Campbell, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Old Mill John Dewey Lounge 325, UVM, Burlington. (Writing)
  • Naruto, 4:30pm – 8:00pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Wednesday Night Board gaming at Triple Play, 6:00pm – 10:30pm, Triple Play, Lebanon, New Hampshire. (Gaming)
  • D&D Encounter, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, The Gamers Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Atwater Blood Drive 2010 -2011, 11am – 4pm, McCullough Social Space, Atwater Commons, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Vampires)
  • “Liberals and Immigration: A Philosophical Perspective”, 4:30 – 6pm, Franklin Environmental Center 103, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Talk)
  • Seuss Stories!, 10:00 PM, Barnes and Noble, South Burlington. (Kids)
  • Psychology Lunch program: Student presentations, 12pm, Webb 107, Norwich University, Northfield. (Talk)

 

Bright Future

Adam Wahl, equipment operator with Winooski Public Works department, helped institute an LED light swap out in the parking garage downtown. The energy savings since the switch have been significant.

This in from the Burlington Free Press:

Light Future: Vermont towns turning to LED lights

LED lights, those darlings of environmentalists and the budget conscious, are hitting the streets.

The light-emitting diodes, which can use as much as 70 percent less energy as traditional lights, have been turning up regularly in car headlights, traffic signals, aviation lights and increasingly in home interior lighting.

Now they’re taking over street lighting in Vermont.

Waterbury is installing several dozen along Main and Stowe streets. They’re in Winooski’s city parking garage. A few have gone up in Burlington, and the city is toying with the idea of making LED streetlights far more widespread. Colchester has a Town Meeting Day ballot item that, if approved, would mean LED streetlights along all town roads.

Environmentalists love LED lights. They use so much less energy than traditional bulbs that their increased use could delay or even eliminate the need to build more electrical power plants, environmental experts and activists say. Many such plants spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which scientists agree would hasten and worsen global warming.

Budget cutters embrace LED, too. The more than five dozen LED street lights are expected to save Waterbury about $3,000 year, said Waterbury Community Planner Steve Lotspeich. Colchester, too, would see savings from the LED lights and take advantage of a grant to pay for the cost of installing the new lights, said Colchester Public Works Director Bryan Osborne.

Full article here

I personally like this idea, a lot. It’s a great example of where shifting and investing in the short term can yield some incredible long-term savings. It looks like there’s a number of towns that will see not only a savings in price, but in the energy that they expend, easing the pressure on power sources, something that’ll be very important once Vermont Yankee is out of the picture.

Magic Hat: Powerful Beer!

This in from Seven Days:

For Eric Fitch, beer isn’t just about drinking; it’s about energy. Specifically, the energy that can be produced from a brewery’s spent grain and yeast. Harnessing that power had eluded renewable energy experts until Fitch, founder and CEO of Massaschusetts-based PurposeEnergy, Inc., figured it out.

Since July, Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington has hosted Fitch’s technological innovation, the nation’s first digester for byproducts of beer fermentation. PurposeEnergy’s patented anaerobic digester takes the leftover grain that would otherwise be discarded and breaks it down into methane. That methane can be used to power the brewery’s boiler and other systems that run on natural gas.

For years, farms have used agricultural digesters to create energy from waste. Fitch, an MIT-trained engineer who has experience with numerous startups, figured the process would work for beer waste, too.

Full Article

I like this idea, and I think that it’s a great example of where Vermont businesses have a good thing going for them. Vermont frugality meets modern environmentalism to come up with cost-saving methods that are reasonably easily avaliable to businesses, and using what they have to continually improve.

Geek Things for January 19th

  • Small Agricultural Business Workshop, 7:15PM, Hazen Union High School, Hardwick. $15 per class. (Agriculture)
  • ‘Financing Renewable-Energy and Energy-Efficiency Projects’, 7–9PM, Ilsley Public Library, Middlebury. Free. (Energy, Talk)
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive: Burlington, 12–6PM, UVM Waterman Building, Burlington. Free. (Vampires)
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive: White River Junction, 12–5PM, American Legion, White River Junction. Free. (Vampires)
  • Intro to Genealogy Research Online, 6:30–8PM, Bradford Public Library, Bradford. Free. (Geneology)
  • Scrabble Club, 1–3PM, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, Williston. Free. (Scrabble)
  • MountainTop Film Festival, 5–10PM, Big Picture Theater & Café, Waitsfield. $6-8. (Films)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Keynote – “Growing the Global Heart: Race, Power and Building a Youth-Driven Climate-Justice Movement,”, 4:30PM, McCullough Social Space, Middlebury College, Middlebury. Free. (Talk)
  • Fairfax Playgroup, 10–11AM, Bellows Free Academy – Fairfax, Fairfax. Free. (Kids)
  • High School Book Group, 5–6PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Kids)
  • Highgate Story Hour, 10–11AM, Highgate Public Library, Highgate Center. Free. (Kids)
  • Lego Club, 3–4PM, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, Williston. Free, Preregister. (Kids)
  • Middle School Book Group, 4–5PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Kids)
  • ‘Borders, Boundaries and Bullies’ Lecture Series, “Living on the Edge: The Quebéc-Vermont Border.”, 6:30–8:30PM, Burlington College, Burlington. Free. (Talk)
  • Lamoille County Osher Lecture Series “Changes in Media and Technology in Vermont During My Last 40 Years.” by Marselis Parsons, 1:30PM, Town & Country Resort, Stowe. $5. (Talk)
  • “Who Hoots for You?”, 6:30PM, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, Williston. Free. (Owls)
  • ‘Sea Room’, 7:30PM, Off Center for the Dramatic Arts, Burlington. $7-20. (Theater)
  • ‘The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe’, 7:30PM, Briggs Opera House, White River Junction. $5-58. (Theater)
  • Book Discussion – Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe, 7:30PM, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. Free. (Books)
  • Deborah Krasner, Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat, 3:30PM, Barnes & Noble, South Burlington. Free. (Sustainability)
  • Magic Booster Draft – $12, 6pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington (Gaming)
  • Winter Blitz 2011 Arcade Games, 7-11PM, Davis Student Center, UVM, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Naruto, 4:30pm – 8:00pm, The Gamer’s Grotto, Bennington (Gaming)
  • Wednesday Night Board gaming at Triple Play, 6:00pm – 10:30pm, Lebanon, New Hampshire (Gaming)
  • D&D Encounter, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, The Gamers Grotto, Bennington. (Gaming)
  • Getting to Know NOOK, 6:00 PM, Barnes and Noble, Burlington. (eReaders)
  • Weekly Storytime, 11:00 AM, Barnes and Noble, Burlington. (Kids)