Editor’s note: This is Part Two of a critique of Vermont’s government-renewable power industry complex written by Monique Thurston, a retired Addison County physician. She has been on the ground floor of opposition to wind power and the subsidized renewable power industry for over a decade. See Part One in yesterday’s Vermont Daily Chronicle.
Many Vermont lawmakers – including some now holding powerful positions on energy committees – have ignored the physical and financial suffering created by industrial wind turbines and their backers, the ratepayer-subsidized renewable power industry.
I was there. I saw it happen.
In March 2016, I testified before the Legislature in support of S230, letting towns and planning commissions limit nighttime wind turbine noise levels. Yet Governor Peter Shumlin vetoed the bill and then pushed through a more industry-friendly bill because he felt the reference to wind turbine sound levels could jeopardize new wind energy installations! He had no empathy for Vermonters suffering from turbine-induced sleep deprivation who had pleaded their cases to the House energy committee, chaired by Rep. Tony Klein (D-E. Montpelier and a former renewable energy lobbyist) and co-chaired by Kesha Ram (D-Burlington).
The debate over turbine noise gave me an unobstructed view of the power lobbyists like Paul Burns and Ben Walsh of VPIRG, Austin Davis of Renewable Energy Vermont (a Vermont energy development lobby organization), and Spanish wind energy developer Iberdrola’s lobbyist, Todd Bailey.
Among the legislators who actively opposed more protective noise limits was Senator Christopher Bray (D-Addison), Senate Natural Resources Committee Chair.
I was present when Senator Bray opposed Rep. Mike Hebert ‘s suggestion of an emergency rule of 35 nighttime decibels in the final bill at the very end of June 6 session. Ultimately, under the pressure from dedicated citizens, the legislature tasked the Public Service Board (now named the Public Utility Commission) with rulemaking to address turbine noise impacts on impacted residences. In 2017, the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules approved the rules governing wind sound proposed by the PSB that so many Vermonters, showing up daily to the State House in their green vests, so dearly fought for.
Immediately after those rules took effect, VPIRG wrote, “this rule will make it impossible for any large wind projects to be approved or built while in place.”
REV spokesman Austin Davis wrote: “These rules will certainly have a chilling effect on wind energy in Vermont …”
Lobbyists Paul Burns, Ben Walsh, Todd Bailey and DPS Deputy Commissioner Jon Copans fought throughout the entire S.260/S.230 legislative process to insure protection of Vermont residents living close to excessive wind turbine noise would NOT be included.
The pro-renewables development lobby and their supporters in the Legislature knew they had a serious problem: the goals must be required by law. If not, their obvious costs, new taxes, mandates, regulations, and adverse impact on the landscape (wind turbines and solar farms) would sour the public and stall the industry.
So they devised the despicable Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020. It requires Vermont reduce in-state greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. It actively encourages lawsuits from climate change alarmists if state agencies fail to comply. More disturbing, the GWSA egregiously created an unelected and heavily biased “Climate Council” charged with implementing the Climate Action Plan (CAP). Governor Scott vetoed the bill. But his veto was overridden by the Democratic /Progressive majority.
Under the GWSA, Vermonters are stuck in an ideological tyrannical nightmare.
The human impact of the CAP proposals remain unassessed. This year the callous indifference of the Super Majority Legislature became obvious with its imposition of such extreme measures as the Clean Heat Standard, a goal of 170,000 electric vehicles by 2030, a ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030 and a 100 % renewable electricity portfolio by 2030.
In April 15, 2022, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee discussion of the Clean Heat Standard showed the ignorance, deceit and/or callousness of Senator Bray and Senator Mark Mac Donald. It was baffling and downright outrageous:
Senator Bray: “Right, in essence you’re building into the price of fuel the cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.”
Knowing that a carbon tax would hurt Vermonters, they still passed it. Who are those legislators working for?
With the legal weight of the GWSA on their back, the PUC and the DPS function in a dark hole mired in energy illiteracy, born from the incessant desires of special interests. We know that the public will pay an enormous price – compounding the inflationary vortex Vermont is sucked into by world events and the Biden administration’s anti–fossil fuel agenda.
In the summer of 2022 the Department of Public Service asked, “How do Vermonters think the state’s electric sector should meet its climate goals?” My response is the obvious, that Vermont’s climate goals are unattainable, unfounded schemes promulgated by ideologically driven legislators and self-serving special interests and should be rescinded. Here’s what should happen:
- The next Legislature must rescind the GWSA.
- Energy should be competitively priced and allow Vermont to both survive and thrive without counting on federal monies based on absurd quantitative easing.
Vermont electricity in 2011 was 90% CO2 emission free thanks to Vermont Yankee and long-term Canadian Hydro Quebec contracts.
Conservation and efficiency, the low-hanging and not very sexy fruit of energy policies, often have positive returns on investment without subsidies. They help Vermonters save energy and money.
Cost, value and environmental benefits to taxpayers should govern state policies, not self-interest, corporate profiteering, public deceit and irrationality.
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