Saint Albans Messenger; October 12, 2016
At the gubernatorial candidates forum sponsored by Rights and Democracy at Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church in Saint Albans this summer Sue Minter mentioned many times how she helped lead in the Hurricane Irene recovery effort. If you insist Ms. Minter, thank you. It should be noted however that Neale Lunderville, who served in the Douglas administration as Secretary of Transportation, was chosen by Governor Peter Shumlin to head up the Hurricane Irene recovery effort and you, Ms. Minter, joined the effort when it was in progress. Others that should receive a large thank you for the Irene recovery effort are the men and women of the Vermont National Guard who were the boots on the ground getting the work done.
And one very important aspect of this recovery effort that benefited you was the fact that environmental regulations were thrown out the window during this process. Excavators in river and stream beds removing gravel and stone quarries that had been dormant since Interstate 89 was completed were reactivated without the lengthy Act 250 review process. An access road was even built directly on to I89 south bound in Bethel. What the Town of Bolton wouldn’t give for access to I89!
You would function well under Vermont’s renewable energy guidelines which were intentionally placed under Section 248 jurisdiction by your fellow Democrats. Section 248 was originally designed to facilitate utilities in emergency situations by allowing them to run utility lines and make other accommodations without lengthy regulatory procedures. You will find that the word ‘mitigate’ is used a lot within the Section 248 process. Such as mitigating bear habitat at the Deerfield Wind project with a one million dollar payment to the State of Vermont by the developer.
I’m not a businessman but, I’ve heard the expression ‘you need to spend money to make money’. Is this what is going on behind the scenes in your campaign with the Super PAC money coming from the wind industry? When Theodore Roosevelt (a progressive) was governor of New York State he encountered the use of revenue from the corporate world in the form of campaign contributions to select candidates. This money came with a gentleman’s (lady’s) understanding that these candidates could be counted upon for important votes that benefited the corporation. Roosevelt labeled this threat “The Invisible Empire”. Is Big Wind participating in a pre-buy for Vermont’s mountain ridgelines in the event of your election?
The Federal wind production tax credit has been in place for more than two decades and it is set to continue until 2019. It is estimated by the Joint Committee on Taxation that this credit will cost taxpayers more than 20 billion dollars (B) over 10 years. Presently developers are subsidized by the government at 30% of the project’s cost. The developers are also given five years of accelerated depreciation on their renewable energy projects and this accelerated depreciation is available to successive buyers of these projects. There is a $10 fee on every UVM student’s tuition bill, every semester, for renewable energy (as if college tuition is not high enough!) And your campaign is promoting the carbon tax on our automobile fuel and home heating fuels. A large portion of the money generated is to be used, that’s right, to fund renewable energy projects.
How much money are we going to be forced to pay for electricity? And after all these subsides, it costs twice as much for wind generated electricity as electricity from traditional sources such as hydroelectric. Denmark has some of the highest electricity rates in Europe at 39.42 cents/kWh (2013) and 42% of their electricity comes from wind. Now our electric rates are going up about 1%. It doesn’t sound like much, but for an industry that makes tens of millions of dollars charging cents per kilowatt it is substantial.
All of the Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) for the industrial wind turbines in VT are sold out of state and as a result contribute nothing to our 90% renewable goal. We are told that this helps keep the cost down, but these REC’s will soon need to be retired within VT which means our rates will go up to cover the loss of the REC sales!
Ms. Minter I doubt your sincerity when you say you are for ”well sited” industrial wind because of how your fellow Democrats – Peter Shumlin, Shap Smith, Chris Bray and Tony Klein undermined legislation last session that tried to take a small step in that direction. Remember that fiasco that started out as S230, was vetoed by Governor Shumlin, and then converted to S260 and championed by Chris Bray and Tony Klein? It is now called Act 174 and it created even more liberal sound standards for the wind industry. The Public Service Board, which is overwhelmed and usually behind in resolving issues, is all over this Act 174 ensuring that your wind friends will have even more entitlement to continue their predatory tactics on Vermont’s residents and ridgelines.
Your party is not selling Vermont’s mountains – you’re giving them away!
Dustin Lang , Swanton