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Concord Campaign for Quality Governance

Good process!

Raising questions has brought forward – finally – some good process: in this case, exchanges among those with different 'takes' on the situation and with different information. This dialog is the of essence – the 'good' process that can take us, together, to the informed, shared view we all need.

With enough good dialog, by next year we should be well ready for the basic decisions.

Re — "Remarks concerning Article 64 - Prepared by Brian Crounse"

From this side of the exchange, here below are comments Brian has spurred with his "Remarks." Responses are keyed to Brian's paragraph numbers, in his 'Key Points.'

[Brian's piece, though kindly made available and so commented here, is not yet linkable. Perhaps; stay tuned. Until then, perhaps you may intuit some of the original positions, from the context of the response.]

Paragraph numbered 1

First comment re #1, re "If Article 64 does not pass, ... there is no possibility of pursuing a large-scale solar energy project": This fundamentally is not true, certainly in my experience and that of many others. Concord has a long tradition of Warrant Articles that are brought back to later Town Meetings for consideration at the later time. This paragraph 1 seems to have the tenor of 'hurry up, we have to do this now' - without a basis in reality. Of course that does not serve any of our purposes.

Second comment re #1. As covered on the Home page: to argue for a vote when the basic vetting has not yet been done is tantamount to "planning a trip, but trying to buy the airline ticket before the destination has been picked!" We can, and must, do better.

Paragraph numbered 2

The question here with potential impact appears to be regarding the Investment Tax Credit. The logic of calculation, on a page herein re 'If we wait a year,' shows we may actually do better waiting a year. The future trajectory for solar R&D, and so ongoing cost decline, is of the essence – when we consider the solar option.

Is there evidence that a supply constraint will actually make material impact, when solar's whole problem has been to bring down costs?

Interest rates are indeed a consideration. Is the effect material, beside the other – in some cases order-of-magnitude – effects?

Paragraph numbered 3

As noted, no worthwhile project is dead because a poorly-conceived vote puts it onto next year's calendar.

In my experience any 'expert,' who is not interested to stay and work beyond the initial flurry, is not an 'expert' one wants to imagine trusting ...

Paragraph numbered 4

There seems to be a basic difference in view, perhaps a misunderstanding.

EROI is economics, but without the problems of using money for the metric. As such, it offers the (in)valuable means to compare options without the obscuring effects of subsidies and the like. Yes, there are other considerations, such as the unsightliness of wind towers, for wind, and land perhaps taken out of agricultural or wooded use, for solar. But a measure that gets, fundamentally, at resource-use-and-return is a tool to treasure. EROI is where a vetting of the options begins, I believe.

Now, we then set on the task of getting accurate EROI. That is what a good next year can bring.

Paragraph numbered 5

Sub-para 1

As covered in a prior exchange: The issue is the absolute level from which solar costs 'begin.' When they are relatively high, as now, the 'experience curve' can bring them down only so far. Again: the focus – for solar – is future research / cost trajectories. That is what we need good work on.

Sub-para 2

Yes – of course – if we choose solar, we take advantage of the subsidies. But we have not done the work to determine whether, before subsidies, choosing them is the good decision for Concord!

Sub-para 3


How do we get at value? Certainly, we must be concrete and careful with the logic.

So, for the example given: We use solar, hoping to bring down our peak. And then it happens the sun is not shining so well on our peak day (despite probabilites). We have bet $10 million on one day, and 'the clouds' are not with us.

Do we think that is justification, for $10 million?

Yes, there may be other good reaon(s) for solar. But this one is unlikely.

The substation.

The sole difference is the timing for the substation upgrade. Capacity will be increased; the only question is 'when.' Hence, the cost difference is just the time-discounted difference between debt service a little later and debt service a little earlier. Likely, that is – relative to the other cost considerations – not a material amount.

Transmission costs and Maine hamburgers.

I believe that transmission cost is bundled into the Maine wind farm quote. And that price is about 20 percent better than the very best estimate for solar in Concord. That – a price which is 20 percent favorable to wind – is the decison we have before us – now.

So if that Maine hamburger travels by [no cost] teleportation, I guess there may be a market for it in Concord!

Solar as a peaking technology.

This suggestion seems to be an important insight and contribution. Thanks, Brian.

Now our task is to sort out, and plan forward, just how we intend to handle base load and hence, also, peaking requirements. When we have put in that work, we will be able to judge whether solar - as a 'peaker' - is our good choice.

Hopefully, we will dedicate ourselves to this work, with sufficient time commited to make it effective.