In the world of electric transmission it's called "curtailment." At Sheffield and Lowell Mountain, it's meant that even on the windiest of days the regional power grid operator, ISO New England, pulled the plug on power production because there was just too much available from other sources. Newer, non-baseload sources like Lowell got yanked first.
"We're concerned and we think ISO New England needs to do a better job at integrating these renewables," said Chris Recchia, the commissioner of the Vt. Department of Public Service.
After more than a year of operation, Sheffield has operated at about 23 percent of its planned 32 percent capacity; part of that shortfall is caused by curtailment. Green Mountain Power officials-- operators of Lowell Mountain-- say it's too early to gauge efficiency.
"The entire plant went online at the end of last year. And with any new plant there are lots of things you still need to do, a lot of maintenance, startup maintenance, we had some sound testing. So, we've been doing well with that. It's not at the same capacity as we expect to get next winter," said Dotty Schnure, the spokeswoman for GMP.
GMP plans to install a $10 million device to help ease the transmission issues. But even that won't completely solve the problem. State officials say it's disappointing to see so much wind capacity left on the table.
"I would like to see the priority given to the distributed renewables first and to adjust things like gas and oil, and to not have those running when they don't need to be," Recchia said.
Along with the region's shortcomings in infrastructure, like 60-year-old power lines, transmission planners say the realities of the power market don't always jibe with renewables.
"So it isn't that it wasn't foreseen, it was based on the information you know and can try to and foresee, but it's an extremely dynamic environment-- Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut-- those states are seeing an explosion in renewable energy, smaller-scale renewable energy," said Kerrick Johnson of VELCO.
The developer of the Seneca Mountain wind proposal in the Northeast Kingdom this week said they are scaling back from 35 turbines to around 20, primarily because of overcapacity concerns.
"We cannot carry any more large wind capacity on those lines," Johnson said. "Everybody knows this. Seneca has publicly made aware that they're aware of this. In the end it all boils down to how much money are you willing to spend to ensure system reliability to accommodate your project."
Washington Electric Co-op purchases power from Sheffield. Co-op officials say technology and infrastructure should not be considered limitations, and that Europe provides a good example of how to successfully incorporate renewables.
"So that you can take the wind when the wind is blowing, take the solar when the sun is shining and have your backup sources fill in as they do now," said Avram Patt of the Washington Electric Co-op.
Some say until the curtailment problem is addressed, the prospect of future big renewable projects will, in a way, be self-limiting.
Beyond wind, the Public Service commissioner says issues of blending new power sources into the grid, including the fast-growing popularity of solar net-metering, will need to be addressed.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:52 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:52:17 GMT
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults. Stowe Police responded to 262 Cady Hill Road at 4:38 p.m. and discovered deceased individuals. The Stowe PoliceMore >>
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:49 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:49:04 GMT
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year. What this means, is thatMore >>
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:53:47 GMT
Teamwork between a Montgomery farmer and a corporal with the Franklin Country sheriff's department may have saved a life when they pulled off a daring rescue. A woman became trapped in her truck tryingMore >>
It was a lifesaving rescue in the nick of time. A Franklin County sheriff's deputy put his life on the line to save a woman trapped in a truck with floodwaters raging around her. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:00:55 GMT
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin (D-Vermont), VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath. ShumlinMore >>
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin, VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:02 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:02:05 GMT
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York. The governor made the declaration Tuesday night. It covers six counties in northeastern of New York, including two inMore >>
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:21 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:21:46 GMT
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire. Michael Hayward, 42, of Sunapee, disappeared two months ago. His car was found near the Quechee Gorge. PoliceMore >>
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:14:24 GMT
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. First responders say when they arrived at 42 Smith Street, the house was completely engulfed in flames. CityMore >>
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. Police say the blaze was sparked by a child playing with a lighter.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:07:50 GMT
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they got numerous calls about a young child walking down a road alone. They found the child about a mile from her home. She was brought back to the residence, but the NewMore >>
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they found a young child alone about a mile from her home.More >>