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New England Wanted To Use All Renewable Energy — Then It Got Cold


During a recent trip to Maine, my wife and I noticed the large number of wind turbines cluttering the peaks of the ridges around the otherwise scenic New England countryside, particularly in Vermont. There really are a lot of them, and that’s the result of an ongoing push to get the region onto renewable energy as much as possible. Vermont in particular has been hammering wind power as the path to cut carbon emissions and make the state truly green in nature. And they’ve achieved an admirable level of success, despite the fact that people living near the wind farms are being driven batty by all the noise and the state is being forced to enact additional restrictions on turbine operation.

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But for the most part, as I said, that was all well and good… at least as long as the weather was pleasant. Now, however, as I’m sure any of you living in the northeast are aware, there’s a blistering bubble of arctic air throwing the region into a deep freeze. Suddenly the power grid is experiencing strains which aren’t generally seen in more clement weather conditions. So how are they responding? Local Hartford, Vermont blogger Meredith Angwin has been keeping an eye on the grid and she’s seeing an alarming trend (or at least alarming to environmentalists). As the temperature dropped, wind energy production waned just as demand was rising. And the local power companies responded by… burning oil.