News Analysis

Subsidized fortunes, sketchy details plague Vermont plan for 90% renewable power

Addison County Sen. Chris Bray (left), an architect of much of Vermont’s 90% renewable power by 2050 legislation, looks none too happy trying to answer questions posed by the author at a legislative breakfast.

by Monique Thurston

Are the chickens finally coming home to roost for Vermont energy policy drivers – especially the politicans facing re-election in less than two weeks?

For more than a decade, renewable policies have been promulgated by a revolving door of lobbyists becoming renewable entrepreneurs, lobbyists becoming politicians, and some politicians voting for policies satisfying their ideological inclinations without apparent regard to the effects of these policies on Vermont’s citizens. 

Over the past 10 years in Vermont, regulating energy has become regulating Vermonters’ lives.

 In 2010 the former VPIRG Clean Energy Advocate (a/k/a renewable energy policy lobbyist) James Moore co-founded SunCommon after his organization pushed through legislation offering guaranteed, high-cost subsidies for solar power. On the strength of this VPIRG-generated government support, SunCommon quickly developed a large market, with James Moore in a few short years becoming a rich man, nearly all funded with captive public ratepayer dollars.

In 2011 the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan set a goal of 90% Renewable Energy by 2050 with the purpose of “leading by example” and to “increase community involvement by engaging Vermonters in energy choices” – with zero explanation to Vermonters of the financial and environmental benefits/costs those goals would have. (China has produced nearly all the solar panels installed in Vermont to date, with coal supplying the energy to manufacture the solar panels). The rate paid to solar panel farms developers was 10 times the wholesale cost or electricity at the time, guaranteed for 20 years. 

In June 2015, I attended the “Vermont’s Renewable Energy Goals’ lecture given by David Blittersdorf to the Addison County Democratic Committee. His slide presentation showed that Vermont would need 6000 MW of solar capacity and 3000 MW of wind capacity. I asked him how many miles of ridges would be needed to meet his wind power ambitions and if such capacity would in fact occupy the entire Green Mountains. His response was stunning. 3000 MW of wind would occupy 200 miles of Vermont’s mountain ridges.

Blittersdorf failed to provide any specific correlation to emission savings nor assessment of plans to counteract unreliability when the wind stopped blowing. 

In 2015 I attended the state’s Comprehensive Energy Plan workshop in Middlebury organized by Asa Hopkins, Department of Public Service Energy Policy Director under the Shumlin administration.

Hopkins first gave a slide presentation showing that Vermont would need to reach 90% renewable electricity generation by 2050. Without explaining the source of the new electricity, the enormous taxpayer and ratepayer costs, the ever-growing bureaucracies, and ever more intrusive controls over the choices of ordinary Vermonters to achieve the 90% goal, Hopkins proposed to the audience to write suggestions on how to achieve such goals on several easels placed around the auditorium. Each easel contained a statement that supported the ideas contained in the slide show. Green stickers were available for audience members to place on the easels to show their agreement.

I approached Hopkins and asked him the following three questions:

1) “What is the tonnage of CO2 emissions in Vermont annually?” He did not know “off the top of his head”;

2) “What is the tonnage of CO2 emissions in the world annually?” He did not know that either “off the top of his head”;

3) “What would be the percentage of reduction of the annual world emissions, if his plan would be implemented.” 

He moved away from me. I was truly shocked. Indeed, how can you recommend to an already low CO2-emissions, sparsely populated, mostly rural poor state such drastic recommendations without knowing the practical benefits for Vermonters or for the planet?

Two months after I questioned Asa Hopkins, he told Vermont Watchdog that global warming targets aren’t in the plan “because Vermont efforts won’t affect climate change.” And at a public forum to discuss the CEP, his boss, then DPS Commissioner Chris Recchia said when asked about what kind of impact Vermont’s renewable energy policy would have on global temperatures, “I disagree with the characterization that the reason we’re doing this is to try to improve global warming.”

Energy policies based on a supposed science with no empirical correlation are wrong policies. Didn’t Vermonters deserve to know what these plans would translate into and what sacrifices they would be required to make? 

 Was “doing your part to solve climate change” a valid reason or simply an infantilization of a public that wanted to trust its government? Who were the players behind this?

Certainly Senator Chris Bray was not comforting my skepticism when asked why he thought Vermont renewable energy policies would affect global warming when I spoke to him at a Breakfast Club in Vergennes in 2016.

After all those interactions I had now discovered the deceit thrown over Vermonters eyes, but that was only the beginning. The folly should have stopped there but did not. It took a much more sinister shape as the years passed. 

To be continued tomorrow in Vermont Daily Chronicle….

Categories: News Analysis

21 replies »

  1. Picking and choosing what studies (qui bono?), and using business men to determine subsidies and where they go is definitely putting the fox in charge.
    Kind of like the Public Service Board being created to bypass Act 250, and ‘keep the economy rolling’, reasoning…
    When you remove God and censor both information and opinions, you’ve got a monopoly.
    Vermonters have always been seen as dupes by big government.
    We just needed a few flatlanders to come in and tell us how to live, drive our cars, and how to heat our homes (cut down those trees that provide shade and wind protection by gar – then by an AC!!! qui bono GMP?), and that’s puts paid to the Hegelian dialectics that have more to do with ‘where does that pile of mammon’s get go?
    The devil is in charge, and his minions carry out his dystopia destroying Vermont for profit.
    Yeah… don’t do the research. Believe politicians and snake oil salesman.
    Put man’s plans over God’s plan.
    That’s the ticket.

  2. So, a proponent of the legislation said, “Vermont efforts won’t affect climate change.” So, the cost-benefit analysis for the average Vermonter – high cost v. zero benefit. Why is this happening? Vote against anyone who supports this nonsense.

  3. Stop cutting vegetation…….lower the population of a certain animal by half and return to nature!

  4. There is one VT legislator – high up in Democrat ranks – who works for SunCommon. What is his job and how much is earned? What have the votes been on climate and energy legislation? Are there other legislators who earn their living from “Green” enterprises? Who are they? What do they earn? How have they voted? Anyone curious?

  5. I have had the pleasure of meeting Monique while also finding myself in Montpelier attempting to understand how the lobbyist machine known as “Green” infiltrated many legislators which has resulted in a corrupt “planet saving” wealth generation machine on the backs of hard working, tax paying Vermonters (true Vermonters). Monique speaks facts here … pure and simple. The ballot box is our only hope to put an end to the con game that exists folks!!

  6. Why is the Hydro Quebec (HQ) option always ignored in this discussion? It’s virtually carbon free power. HQ power costs one third (6 cents per kwh) the going rate for wind and solar (18 to 21 cents per kwh). HQ has offered all the power Vermont needs. In fact, HQ already provides 30 percent of Vermont’s power.

    And yes, HQ is controlled by a foreign country (right next door) – that already owns Green Mountain Power and that just purchased the dozen or so hydro dams on the upper CT River from Great River Hydro.

    And while HQ is the fourth largest energy producer in the world, we don’t talk about it. Why?

    • Same reason as VY – it’s carbon free, affordable, plentiful power. I.E. COMPETITION. They can’t close it but they can oppose power lines and contracts – which they do.

  7. Perhaps the Climate (cult) Council caught wind of this (pun intended.) “A wind farm is being dismantled in western Germany to make way for an expansion of an open-pit lignite coal mine in a “paradoxical” situation highlighting the current prioritization of energy security over clean energy in Europe’s biggest economy.” The citizens in Europe are prepared to burn down the EU to stay warm. The Truth is the globalists are failing. Their long game schemes to manufacture crisis after crisis is crashing down upon their serpent heads. Hallelujah!

  8. “The rate paid to solar panel farms developers was 10 times the wholesale cost or electricity at the time, guaranteed for 20 years”. How convenient that 20 years is the typical useable life span of a solar panel.

  9. This author points to the baseline of corruption affecting climate policies in our state that render them highly suspect on several fronts. It’s not a Nimby thing to question whether a project will make a difference to reduce green house gasses; it’s common sense. Factor in rare earth minerals, damage to ecosystems, animals, habitat, the economic fall-out on Vermonters and it would be irresponsible not to question policies seemingly based on personal gain and political motivation.

  10. People appreciate the work it takes to expose corruption in government. They hide behind the fear of atmospheric carbon dioxide and its made-up damaging effect on the weather (actually it greens our planet through enhanced vegetation growth) Never stop uncovering these shysters, Monique. Once people understand their criminal intentions, they will face the music of disgust from an informed populace.