by Peter Freyne
Gov. Jim Douglas was in great form for his weekly presser at 11 a.m. this fine morning. Had his successor as state treasurer [and perhaps as governor?], Democrat Jeb Spaulding with him for the "dog & pony" opening. About how we better all start figuring out how to plan to pay for our "Baby Boom Generation" retirement.
Buy lottery tickets.
The "mainstream" press will have that one.
Yours truly went for the political jugular and the Guv's absence from the Tree-Hugger Wind Power Crowd's big conference at the Sheraton put on by Renewable Energy Vermont.
Q. A big crowd at the Sheraton and you’re usually at those conferences. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Does your absence from the picture tell an accurate picture that the Governor of Vermont is perhaps the leading opponent of wind energy development in the state?
DOUGLAS: I think the director of that organization indicated that he hadn’t invited me.
Q. But the fact they wouldn’t even think to invite you? How distant? What another world you’re in when it comes to the energy picture, whereas wind-energy seems to be growing in popularity. But you are the No. 1 opponent of wind power, are you not?
DOUGLAS: I was disappointed that I wasn’t invited, frankly. They invite me in election years to appear with the candidate they’ve already anointed, so I was disappointed and certainly would be pleased to participate. It’s too bad that it was politicized.
But frankly, other than wind, I think that we’re really on the same page. I’ve been a strong supporter of methane, of bio-diesel, of the grants through our Clean Energy Fund, of small-scale hydro, of the renewable and clean sources of power we have for base load generation of electricity for our state. The pellet and switchgrass development and hydrogen fuel-cell research that’s underway. I’m a strong supporter of alternative energy, and with the one exception of industrializing our ridge lines, I agree with them.
What a guy!
Q. So primarily it’s an aesthetic issue with you, Governor?
DOUGLAS: Well, largely. It’s a matter of weighing the benefit versus the cost. I’ve told you this before, you know, people come up to me and say, 'Put up wind turbines, so we can close Vermont Yankee.’
And they really think we could generate an equivalent amount of electricity from wind turbines as we get from the nuclear power plant and, of course, it isn’t even close.
If it were, maybe we’d be having a different discussion, but to get maybe 6 percent of our electricity from the maximum number of towers that have been proposed, I really think the clear-cutting, the impact on wildlife, the aesthetic impact really doesn’t justify it.
Q. But you’ve seen the polling data or the survey data. Is this the first issue of the ‘08 campaign right here?
DOUGLAS: Well, Stewart, I can’t answer that...I don’t make my decisions based on polls and never will. I’ll tell you how I feel about something. But I respect the process. The Public Service Board has made a decision [on Sheffield] and I certainly respect that.