Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sheffield Monsters

I was driving back to the office from Orleans Superior Court the other day, and as I was driving out of Barton up the long hill toward Wheelock and Sheffield,  I drew in my breath, startled.  Ahead of me, where the Sheffield hills were usually a summer green wilderness, monsters had appeared.  They looked like they were lumbering over the hills dwarfing by ten times the spruces, cedars and white pine,  their half a football field long arms ready to swoop up the cars traveling south up Sheffield Heights.   The Sheffield wind towers, over 400 feet tall, gave me the creeps.

Worse yet, these "renewable energy" ogres are  so inefficient that they  must be subsidized heavily by the taxpayers and ratepayers.  Wind farms cannot generate electricity at a profit on their own; so the long suffering taxpayers must cough up money for this latest political fad  Why?  Because it is politically popular to be in favor of "renewable energy", and wind energy not so incidentally helps politicians'  lobbyist friends to get some easy money from Uncle Sam and the State of Vermont instead of doing the hard work of making a profit by providing a product or service at a competitive price that the public wants and needs.  Its a win-win for politicians and a lose-lose for taxpayers and ratepayers.

Recently  VPR broadcast one of its nearly daily press releases from our Congressional delegation  touting their support for eliminating ethanol subsidies.  Ethanol used to be the latest "renewable energy" fad; and Senator Leahy, who recently bragged about eliminating tax subsidies for ethanol voted for those same subsidies  in years past.  VPR of course, did not note that hypocrisy.  Ethanol has been subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of  six billion dollars a year; with the demand for ethanol raising prices for corn up 17% in 2011 alone.

Vermont's ACT 250, which is supposed to regulate development, fails when politically powerful interests support projects like wind power.  In Hardwick, the building of a cell tower 180 feet tall has been blocked for a decade under the pretense that it violates Criterion 8 of the Act which requires the project not to "have an undue adverse effect on the scenic or natural beauty of the area ...[or] aesthetics..."  Vermont courts have interpreted that requirement to mean that the project should be "in harmony with its surroundings".

Monster wind towers on Sheffield Heights are not in harmony with their surroundings.  But never mind. Powerful politicians and powerful lobbyists trump taxpayers, rate payers,  and small town residents every time.

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