On Thursday night hundreds of people packed into the Irasburg Town Hall to tell renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf they don’t want his industrial wind towers in their town. Out of 285 voters, 274 said “NO” to wind development in town.
Dr. Ron Holland, the town’s moderator, also presented a folder of petitions to the select board, signed by 481 voters, asking the select board to take a formal stand against wind development. Dr. Holland also spoke about a formal organization formed to challenge Blittersdorf’s plan – the Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance – and reasons for their opposition. Among them: the health effects of living near towers, the effect on property values, aesthetics, and their utter failure to reduce carbon emissions.
Blittersdorf didn’t attend the meeting but sent a strongly worded email that we translated to say – “I believe in renewable energy, I know what my property rights are, and I don’t care what Irasburg thinks.”
Blittersdorf has gotten filthy rich on renewable energy subsidies and mandates. In fact, he’s had a hand in writing many of the rules and laws that benefit his companies directly. Nobody in Vermont, that we know of, has gotten richer from gaming the rigged system than Blittersdorf. He knows how to cash in both as a developer and as a manufacturer of renewable energy systems.
He says he’s on a crusade to save the world. But anyone as involved in green energy as Blittersdorf is knows that the small benefit of wind energy can’t ever justify their overall inefficiency or heavily subsidized expense.
He knows wind projects are a bad fit for Vermont’s climate, make no sense economically, and yield zero impact on net carbon footprint.
He knows, because of well-known and understood transmission and infrastructure limitations, the New England grid operator has to limit the amount of power it can absorb from Vermont’s boutique projects.
He knows that taxpayers and ratepayers are getting fleeced at every turn of the turbine.
He knows that there aren’t “green jobs” associated with power generation.
He knows that after a quarter decade, and billions of tax subsidies through the wind Production Tax Credit, that wind farms aren’t competitive anywhere in the United States.
He knows that his developments are irreconcilable with the spirit, and the letter, of Act 250 land protections.
He knows wind tax credits (as one critic explained) “are nothing more than a cost imposed on all taxpayers in order to accommodate development of a politically well-connected, high-priced, low-value resource that cannot meet our electric capacity needs.”
He knows most of the state’s carbon footprint derives from vehicles and heating our homes in winter. As such, expensive and inefficient wind projects yield no meaningful effect on aggregate carbon emissions.
He knows wind energy is notoriously intermittent and unreliable, requiring fossil-fuel powered backup plants when the wind doesn’t blow.
He knows Shumlin’s grand plan that calls for Vermont’s energy use to come from 90 percent renewable sources by 2050 is not only unachievable, but the tax subsidies that it will require in the intervening failed effort to reach it will cost Vermont taxpayers an unforgivable and unsustainable fortune.
He knows wind is only a winner for developers – earning tax credits, naked subsidies, and guaranteed (fixed) consumption by ratepayers.
He knows wind projects distort energy markets and require such intensive energy to develop that nobody believes them to actually be “green.”
He knows, despite his invocation of property rights, that wind development is the ultimate zoning issue and has enormous impact on surrounding communities.
He knows that those communities are being torn apart by bad public policy, big government subsidies and a misguided pursuit of “green energy.”
Of course Blittersdorf knows all of this. What he might not know is that Northeast Kingdom residents won’t suffer fools. And they’ve gotten better over the years, and from hard experience, at protecting themselves from predatory developers.
Everyone now understands that this isn’t about the environment or global warming. It’s a naked money grab.
And we all stand with Irasburg in saying bureaucrats, investors and hotshot energy lobbyists shouldn’t have more say about what happens in our communities than the people actually living here.
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