VPIRG Backs Off Criticism of Gov. Shumlin's Energy Plan | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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VPIRG Backs Off Criticism of Gov. Shumlin's Energy Plan


The Vermont Public Interest Research Group today had some harsh words for Gov. Peter Shumlin's new comprehensive energy plan, but then quickly took them back.

Earlier today, VPIRG clean energy advocate Ben Walsh fired off an email titled "Really? This is what we waited for?" The email criticized Shumlin's plan for being less aggressive in the development of renewable energy than his predecessor — Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.


"After more than six months of anticipation and hard work put forth by Vermonters all across the state, the Shumlin administration’s comprehensive energy plan was released last week. Parts of the plan are visionary but we need action, not just vision. Shockingly, the plan promotes slower clean energy adoption than we saw happen under the Douglas administration*," noted Walsh.

At the bottom of the email, Walsh adds this explanation after the asterisk:

"*Really. Since 2005, Vermont utilities have signed up for 13 percent of their electricity to come from new renewable projects by 2013. That is 1.6 percent new per year. The Shumlin plan is only calling for 1.1 percent new renewable electricity per year. :-("

I bet it was the emoticon that really peeved Team Shumlin. Whatever happened, less than four hours later Walsh's boss — James Moore — issued an apology under the email subject line, "Correction: too harsh, good plan."

Aww, must be the gov's office took VPIRG out to the proverbial woodshed, a woodshed chock full of biofuels. Or, maybe the governor threatened to boycott VPIRG's Mardi Gras float in next year's Magic Hat Mardi Gras parade (see picture). Actually, Shumlin chief of staff Bill Lofy says the gov's office did reach out to VPIRG to complain but VPIRG was already in the process of issuing a new statement.

That statement by Moore reads: "Earlier today we sent you an email about the Governor’s new energy plan. We missed the mark with the email. So I want to be very clear. We are thrilled to have a comprehensive energy plan that shows real vision for where this state can and should go to create a clean energy legacy for our kids, reduce our dependence on oil and put Vermonters to work. It has been a long time since we had a real energy plan for the state, any plan.

"There are parts of the plan that we feel are weak, like the renewable energy requirements," Moore goes on. "We hope those parts of the plan will be improved as it is refined."

Moore told Seven Days it was an internal communications snafu that led to the "too harsh" email.

With energy advocates like that, global warming might have a chance after all.