The wind energy folks in Vermont continue their mystifying pursuit of ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
KSE Partners, a Vermont lobbyist group, last month registered an advocacy group titled Wind Works VT; its intent being to campaign on behalf of industrial wind power and to counter the mounting arguments against it.
But the lobbyist group declined to identify the financial backers of the advocacy group, thus creating suspicion where none need exist, which makes arguing for more power to be generated by wind more difficult.
The lobbying group is employed by Iberdrola Renewables, a huge Spanish company specializing in wind turbines. The company has several wind projects proposed for Vermont, including a 15-turbine project near Searsburg and another 28-turbine project in Grafton and Windham.
But KSE would not say whether Iberdrola was a financial backer of the advocacy group.
By declining to say whether the Spanish company is a contributor most people will then assume it is, and by keeping it secret people also begin to assign less than pure motives to the advocacy group’s efforts. That does harm to all wind power advocates.
This isn’t their first error in judgment. Earlier this year Burlington attorney Ritchie Berger, who represents renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf, surreptitiously urged a criminal investigation of wind power critic Annette Smith, suggesting she was practicing law without a license.
It was the classic example of the well-heeled attacking pedestrian Vermonters. People were outraged; the complaint blew up in Mr. Blittersdorf ’s face. The attorney general’s office dropped the case, and Ms. Smith’s stock soared.
The rebuke was a bit of a shock to Mr. Blittersdorf who has enjoyed a privileged relationship with Gov. Peter Shumlin. It was Mr. Blittersdorf who mounted a vigorous campaign on Mr. Shumlin’s behalf when he first sought office six years ago – the subject being Mr. Shumlin’s push to close Vermont Yankee [which, obviously, worked to Mr. Blittersdorf ’s financial interests.] No governor has been more pronounced in support of renewable energy than Mr. Shumlin; but that’s about to come to a close. The unsettling question for the Blittersdorfs of Vermont is who follows – Sue Minter or Phil Scott – and which would provide the most support to their interests.
It’s interesting that the advocacy group is being formed just as the general election campaign ramps up.
Will its advocacy be part of the general election narrative?
Would anyone be surprised if it were?
No. There is a lot of money at stake and those with the money have a tendency to be protective and to do all that’s possible to make more.
But there are smart ways to buttress a cause and there are the notso- smart. Hiding the names of those who are financing the advocacy group is one of the not-so-smart choices. Sneaking behind the scenes to discredit opponents, is another of the not-so-smart moves.
Both are also marks of the supremely arrogant.
That’s the mistake in all this. Ms. Smith’s opposition notwithstanding, there is a solid case in favor of the need to develop wind power. The challenge is figuring out where, and on what scale.
What the more forceful of the wind power advocates are doing [including Mr. Blittersdorf] is rejecting the right of Vermonters to have a voice in the process. They are making it appear as if they should be able to put up wind turbines anywhere they would like and as many as they would like, belittling all those who have contrary views.
That’s not the way to advocate on behalf of one’s cause. This is, once again, an example of arrogance clouding what should be their better judgment. And, boom! There goes another toe.