Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vermont's environmental left turns on a "renewable energy" project

This morning Vermont Public Radio reported on the Lowell Mountain wind project.  The developer,  Green Mountain Power, wants to move the permitting process along faster because it needs to build the four hundred foot towers before federal subsidies run out at the end of 2012.  Surprise!  Wind power is not feasible without massive taxpayer subsidies.  But Vermont officials have made it clear they are not going to move quickly.  For years, Vermont's environmental community  has pushed "renewable energy" like wind and solar.  Now that a large wind farm is being developed, Vermont Natural Resources Council, all too predictably, has "concerns" about the environmental impact of the project.  The leftist environmental community does not really want green energy like nuclear and wind power.  It wants us all to reduce energy use---a goal that if achieved would result in massive regulation of "everything we our personal and private lives", as Governor Shumlin has proclaimed.   So, with the assistance of the State's bureaucracy, VNRC is going to slow down the process.  GMP is no longer the environmental darling developing a politically correct project;  it will be forced to go through the process like other supplicants to Vermont's environmental bureaucracy.  The VPR story also revealed the Agency of Natural Resource's attitude towards development it does not favor:  "Don't rush us. We don't care about the economics of your project.  We will go at our own pace, with no regard for your needs."  ANR  bureaucrats, who receive their paychecks every other week without fail, reveal their disdain for those who risk their capital to build developments that would create private sector jobs.  Environmental concerns can be resolved by a bureaucracy which helps applicants meet environmental permit requirements.  Not Vermont's ANR.  Their  imperious attitude towards applicants has been a feature of the agency for decades.  The pace of permitting is slow because the bureaucracy  is slow.  Other states have figured out how to process environmental permits that meet environmental concerns far faster than Vermont.  In New Hampshire, major projects are permitted in 30 days, and New Hampshire is hardly an environmental wasteland. In Vermont, the same project would take years.   So GMP has learned that its favored project is no longer favored, and like other developers, it will likely lose massive amounts of money trying to chase a Vermont environmental permit before it loses its shirt when wind power is no longer subsidized.   It may be amusing to watch environmentalists betray a renewable energy project after pushing the renewable energy agenda for years, but the not so amusing fact is that Vermont  taxpayers and ratepayers will ultimately pay for this debacle.

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