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A plan in name only

The Vermont Department of Public Service recently released its “Comprehensive Energy Plan.”

It’s a 600-page document guided by one overrarching, fanatical theme – to set Vermont on a path of 90 percent renewable energy by 2050.

That’s it. No cost analysis. No acknowledgement that the plan, if followed, will more than double everybody’s electric bills. No meaningful mention of the outrageously-subsidized, 400-foot wind towers necessary on every hill, or fields covered in prohibitively expensive solar panels. It also doesn’t mention that the plan, if pursued, will chase every single business out of the state and Vermont will be identified more for its brown outs than its green mountains.

Without an answer for these unwelcome facts, it ignores them.

A major premise of the plan is that “by any standard, importing fossil fuels [will] impose a large burden on the Vermont economy.” In prominent Vermont economist Art Woolf’s judgment that premise and the plan itself are deeply flawed. Shumlin’s planners hold that fossil fuel at any price is too much to pay; alternative fuel (except, of course, Vermont produced nuclear power) at any price is a good buy.

Further, the plan vehemently asserts that Vermont should produce its own power; importing power sources amounts to breaking the Vermont economy by sending all of that money out-of-state. Woolf discards that specious assumption by quoting Adam Smith’s comment on some self-evident (but certainly not to Shumlin and his planners), down-home common sense: It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy. The taylor does not attempt to make his own shoes, but buys them of the shoemaker. The shoemaker does not attempt to make his own clothes, but employs a taylor. The farmer attempts to make neither the one nor the other, but employs those different artificers. All of them find it for their interest to employ their whole industry in a way in which they have some advantage over their neighbours, and to purchase with a part of its produce, or what is the same thing, with the price of a part of it, whatever else they have occasion for.

The most significant conclusion that cries out from the Shumlin plan is that, no matter what it costs in money, huge utility bills, ruined ridges, and newly built stand-by fossil fuel electricity generation plants for when the wind doesn’t blow, getting to the 2050 goal of 90 percent renewable energy use in Vermont is worth any sacrifice, even if one of the sources of clean power is nuclear (purchased from New Hampshire, of course, certainly not from Vermont).

The plotline in this thing reads more like a Dr. Seuss tale than a serious plan. We were waiting for the the conclusion to say: “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”