Campaign Countdown: Vermont's energy future

Published: Oct. 17, 2018 at 1:35 PM EDT
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Vermont's energy future is a key issue, and one that the candidates for governor are weighing in on.

In her previous gig as a utility executive, Democrat Christine Hallquist helped write a plan that she says the state should adopt. "It's called the Solar Pathways Plan. I would make that the comprehensive energy plan. That is my energy plan," Hallquist said.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott says his policy is focused on expanding solar and hydro from north of the border. "I believe that the future is more in solar, and again, hydro in some capacities. We also utilize biomass here in the state. So a combination of a lot of different efforts, specifically with Canada being a large provider of hydro," Scott said.

Both say wind isn't expanding in Vermont. Hallquist says wind power has to be used, but won't be generated in Vermont because it's cheaper elsewhere. "Now I'm not necessarily about putting wind on ridgelines because we can get that wind from the midwest at a significantly lower price than in Vermont," she said. She says Vermonters will choose wind if they want it. "We'll let Vermonters decide that. "I do -- that communities, all the communities within a viewshed should make the decision. I suspect that Vermonters aren't going to support additional wind turbines in Vermont."

Scott is more firmly opposed.

Reporter Neal Goswami: What is a non-starter for you in terms of renewable energy sources?

Gov. Phil Scott: Wind generation, large-scale wind generation on our ridgelines. It's something that I've opposed for the last few years."

Scott says power storage is the future. He wants to support companies like Vermont-based Dynapower that are working on it. "Some of the future is going to be dependent on new technology. When I talk about that I talk about large-scale energy storage, battery storage, so that renewables make sense," he said.

Adding more electric vehicles is also a priority for Scott. "Electric vehicles is what the future is. It's coming," he said.

While Scott says he firmly opposes a carbon tax, Hallquist isn't committing to it, or rejecting it. She does say it's the most effective way to mitigate carbon emissions. "The price on carbon deserves a deep dive. I certainly wouldn't take a position on it now. Any policy we need to put in place, we're gonna put it through that filter of how it impacts those people on the lowest economic ladder. We can't negatively impact people who are struggling today," she said.