February 10, 2004

Rolling blackouts on the coldest day of the year? Windmills on our relatively unspoiled kingdom peaks? Never-ending debate over the safety of the installation of new high-voltage transmission lines? Nuclear power ["Power Plays," January 21]?
We seem to be caught in the never-ending cycle of a power-distribution conundrum. ?
We want people to be provided with a constant source of cheap yet clean power? Seems to me we should be focusing on the weak links here. Want to do it cheaply and efficiently? Technology and outside-the-box thinking by way of a slowly spreading phenomenon: living off the grid. We struggle through catastrophe after catastrophe in dealing with centralized power generation when we should be devoting resources to allowing each independent building the ability to independently provide for the independent needs therein.
Why not let the Green Mountain Republic serve as a model to the rest of the wire-dependant world? Why not utilize the Burlington brain trust (UVM) in research and design of the capability to arrive at this far-off destination - real technology for real people right here at home. Isn't that why we subsidize the educational system?
If we can shoot to be back on the moon by 2030, we should sure as hell be able to figure out another way to light the bulbs and power the tubes by then. Where there's a will, there's a way, and right now we need those either in or aspiring to be in positions of leadership in this state to jump onboard and pilot this ship to the port of provision. Mr. Douglas? Mr. Clavelle? Mr. Shumlin? Mr. Pollina?
Wert Brenner

Electricity ["Power Plays," January 21] provides us with convenience and comfort, and is essential to any business pursuit. As more homes and businesses are built, more power is needed. However, we should not assume that current methods of generation and long-distance transmission best meet our economic and environmental needs. In the year 2004, we need to look to state-of-the-art technology and be forward-thinking in making decisions that affect our future economy and health. There is a viable alternative to Velco's proposed Northwest Reliability Project. This can be found in the pre-file testimonies of expert witnesses that are now before the Vermont Public Service Board.
Paul Chernick is an energy expert and load forecaster. He reports that Velco has exaggerated the electric load forecast "by using a load forecast that exceeds the most recent forecast for Vermont produced by NEPOL and the ISO." Doug Hoffer is an economic forecaster. In his testimony, he states that the least-cost alternative to provide for our power needs is local generation and distribution of power, conservation and energy efficiency. This combination, over the next nine years, would: create 462 jobs a year for Vermonters; generate $245,000 in income tax for the state from the above employment; offer customer savings of $684 million; generate $7.6 million in sales and excise taxes from the money residential customers would spend due to savings on their electricity bills.
It is the job of the PSB to decide whether Velco's proposed Northwest reliability project meets the criteria of V.S.A.. 50 section 248 and if so, issue a certificate of "Public Good." The proposed NRP would: increase our exposure to EMFs and thus possibly increase our risk of diseases associated with EMF (e.g., childhood leukemia); decrease property values along the power line; spoil our scenic views with bigger power lines; increase our electric rates.
The PSB decision will affect both the quality of life in small towns and the economy of the state. It will impact the lives of future generations. In the 21st century, decisions should be informed by realistic forecasts of the need for power, advantages for Vermont's economy, innovative technological solutions and sensible thinking.
Margaret Benn