Campbell delays S.30 vote until Tuesday, citing Wolfe’s threat, desire for full Senate vote

Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell

Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell. VTD/Alan Panebaker

Updated at 10:08 a.m. on March 21, 2013.

Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windham, said that the Vermont Senate is delaying a floor vote on the contentious energy regulation bill S.30 until next Tuesday.

The reasoning behind his decision, he said, is twofold: He wants all senators to be able to vote, and he feels personally compelled to vote on the bill because of an email from an influential renewable energy businessman and member of the Democratic Party, which was made public by VTDigger earlier this week.

“Quite honestly, because of that letter being put in Digger … if I don’t vote on this thing, it looks like I actually paid attention to this threat that was put forward,” he said. “I just won’t do that. That’s everything that’s wrong about the system.”

The letter Campbell referenced was sent by Jeffery Wolfe, who founded the large-scale solar company groSolar and sits on the national advisory board for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In that email, Wolfe wrote: “John, I’ve supported you for a lot of races. But if you support this bill, not only does that support end, but I will help recruit and support opposition to you in the next election, and will put my money where my mouth is.”

Sitting in the Senate’s most powerful office, Campbell told VTDigger that because of Wolfe’s comments he feels “it’s imperative” that he votes on the bill.

This week, Campbell is presiding over the the Senate for Lt. Gov. Phil Scott who is away, which means Campbell can’t vote on the bill unless there is a tie.

Campbell said he supports the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, which passed the bill out to the Senate floor.

Therefore, he supports the legislation.

“And that may cost me my seat,” he said. “It very well may cost me my seat, and I’m willing to do that. The fact of the matter is: I don’t like bullies … I really feel if I’ve got to get up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror, I’ve got to make decisions that I think are best for Vermont and our future.”

Campbell said that he supports renewable energy “100 percent,” but he wants to ensure that new projects are sited in a manner that is not destructive to Vermont’s environment.

“Any time you get off of oil, you are doing something good,”he said. “But in our rush to do that, are we forsaking other really important things about this state? And I think that question needs to be asked.”

Although Campbell hasn’t yet identified any donations from Wolfe, he said he would return any funds that he has received.

“I’m reviewing my campaign finances to see just how much he’s given to me because I will be sending his checks back,” Campbell said.

“I always tell people if you make a contribution, please understand you are not buying access to me because you’ll have access anyways. And you are not buying my vote,” he added.

Clarification: John Campbell’s office said the Senate President Pro Tempore misspoke on Wednesday. Sen. Dick Sears will not be attending meetings for the remainder of the week; he will be busy on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, and Campbell rearranged the floor schedule for Sears next week, not this week. 

Andrew Stein

Comments

  1. Rolf Mueller :

    Oh, the contradictions.
    Campbell says:
    “I always tell people if you make a contribution, please understand you are not buying access to me because you’ll have access anyways. And you are not buying my vote”

    Then why does he say:
    “I’m reviewing my campaign finances to see just how much he’s (Wolfe) given to me because I will be sending his checks back”

  2. Julie Hansen :

    I appreciate the response. I think I understand what Mr.Mueller means about a contradiction. Why would he have to send the money back if his vote were not for sale in the first place? Or did I miss something?

    Either way, I like the response. Thank you, Mr. President Pro Tem.

  3. Patrick Cashman :

    If you look at followthemoney.org which aggregates campaign finance reports, it doesn’t appear Mr. Campbell received any money from Mr. Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe and his spouse, however, do appear to be large supporters of Governor Shumlin. Which from my perspective may be a factor in why Mr. Wolfe would prefer these matters be decided wholly by a board chosen by the governor without the requirement to work with effected towns.

    In the end however Mr. Wolfe’s message is clear: He pays good money for politicians and expects them to perform when tasked.

    • Patrick,
      Exactly right, and it has been going on for about 10 years. It is strictly done to build RE businesses that are unsuitable for Vermonters. See my above comment.

    • Rob Macgregor :

      Yeah, except that Governor Shumlin hasn’t appointed anyone to the PSB during his term as governor. All 3 members have been on board for many years, and Chairman Voltz was appointed by Gov. Douglas, who opposed utility scale wind.

      • John Greenberg :

        And re-appointed by Peter Shumlin.

  4. Regardless Mr. Wolfe’s motivations I find the following a perfectly fine statement: “John, I’ve supported you for a lot of races. But if you support this bill, not only does that support end, but I will help recruit and support opposition to you in the next election, and will put my money where my mouth is.”

    I have made the same basic statement a number of times. Someone vying for political office always needs three things from us: time, money and vote. Why shouldn’t I be able to tell an officeholder who is doing something I totally disagree with (such as nothing about the firearms situation) that I will NOT provide them with any of the big three and WILL even send those big three to another officeholder wannabe?

    I’m fine with Wolfe’s statement as reflected in the above story.

    • Don Peabody :

      Which is why it would be good to take private money out of political campaigns.

      • But 100% public financing will never happen.

        These contributing folks LIKE the system, because it pays for them, and THEY call the shots.

    • Kathy Leonard :

      Rama I understand what you say but would you choose to do so in a published opinion piece? Given the division industrial wind is causing Vermont, Jeff Wolff’s choice of going public with this simply threw gas on the fire. Industrial wind is dividing neighbors, communities, environmentalists and preservationists around this planet. Going into an uncertain climatic future, THIS is the biggest shame.

      Coming from Wolff, the letter appears to spread the poisoned well of opinion on industrial wind into that of solar, which saddens me because it was a Solar Home Tour at Jeff’s home that prompted us to put 2k on our shed roof six years ago. I don’t recognize Vermont as Vermont much these days. A kindergarden teacher would say “time out” but adults, being as we are, can’t see the wisdom of that.

      • Kathy, I wear my politics on my sleeve – yes, I would say this in public. I’ve stated it before in both verbal and written communications.

        If I see a politician doing something I view as really, really bad (such Welch still lying about ACORN and his willingness to join his radical right wing buddies in congress in an assault on a group who’s only crime was to openly advocate for the politically disempowered), and I hope to get others to act on that information … why wouldn’t I make it a public statement?

        Don Peabody is correct in that this shows the dark underside of private money in politics, but that is the way it is right now. I would much prefer we had a “big two” (time and vote).

    • Cecile Johnston :

      Funny, I read that same statement as a sort of temper tantrum that amounted to, “I’ll just go buy my own politician.”

    • Patrick Cashman :

      Rama,
      Interesting point. If money equals speech, then of course we should be free to direct our green speech to whomever we choose best represents our interests. However I would argue there is the matter of intent. Do you invest in certain politicians because they represent the views most agreeable to your own view, or are you investing with some expectation of quid pro quo? Mr. Wolfe appears to believe in the latter. Not saying it’s illegal, merely unseemly. And disturbing as someone so willing to petulantly display his dissatisfaction with the services provided in return for his cash can be expected to have been pretty clear to those politicians he was investing in that he expected a return at the time of that investment.
      On another note, let’s be clear; since Mr. Wolfe doesn’t appear to have invested any money in Mr. Campbell this would appear to be less of a message to Mr. Campbell and more a message to those politicians he invested so very heavily in. Such as our Governor. “Deliver, or the money train will let you off at the very next stop”.

  5. Tony Lolli :

    Kudos. That’s one in a row. Who’s next?

  6. Richard Sears :

    Correction,
    I am not out the rest of the week. I have meetings with members of Quebec Assembly next Tuesday and Wednesday and will not be here next Wednesday.

    • Andrew Stein :

      Thanks, Dick.

      The President Pro Tempore’s office said he misspoke yesterday. I wrote a clarification.

      Best,
      Andrew

  7. Bill Shouldice :

    I have been working in the Vermont State house for forty years,
    and have never seen anything like these Public threats that both Sen.
    Campbell and Doyle received. This is not the Vermont way and only corrupts the public advocacy process. The Vermont Legislature has had a long history of accepting input from the public and from advocates,
    They do not have staff and need that input and knowledge to make good decisions but these threats make me think that we no longer respect the process or the people who represent us. This is a shame because Vermont s process is one of the purest in the Nation.

  8. DO THE RIGHT THING:

    “Campbell said he supports the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, which passed the bill out to the Senate floor.

    “Therefore, he supports the legislation.

    “’And that may cost me my seat,’ he said. ‘It very well may cost me my seat, and I’m willing to do that. The fact of the matter is: I don’t like bullies … I really feel if I’ve got to get up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror, I’ve got to make decisions that I think are best for Vermont and our future.’”

    “Campbell said that he supports renewable energy ‘100 percent,’ but he wants to ensure that new projects are sited in a manner that is not destructive to Vermont’s environment.”

    Thank you, Senator. And thank you, Vermont Digger, for providing a way to fight back against bullies. Their threats seem to have backfired, big time.

    Ellin Anderson
    Brownington

  9. Julie Hansen :

    Rama, it is one thing if an average citizen who perhaps gives $50.00 toward a candidate’s camp says he won’t support a campaign. It is quite another when the person making the threat has a great deal of money to throw into the mix. We have known this goes on in Washington, D.C. with oil, pharmaceuticals, and health insurance companies, but we have been hopeful that our state would not fall into that abyss.

    • Julie,
      These RE folks are VERY determined to get at the overly-generous RE subsidies (they paid for a tunnel to the vault and do not want the vault moved), are claiming all sorts of energy systems nonsense to befuddle/mislead the public, because their RE businesses could not exist without the subsidies; to them it is life or death situation.

  10. John,
    “Quite honestly, because of that letter being put in Digger … if I don’t vote on this thing, it looks like I actually paid attention to this threat that was put forward,” he said. “I just won’t do that. That’s everything that’s wrong about the system.”

    Some RE snakes are ganging up on you, but I know you to be a straight shooter with a good aim. I”ll do what I can.

    Wolfe’s threats are nothing short of outrageous (words like Gestapo, Mafia, Putsch come to mind), reveals RE tactics at its worst, may be OK in a banana republic, but not Vermont.

    I wonder about all the threatening telephone calls and emails going on behind the scene, before the letter became public. It may just be the tip of the RE shenanigans iceberg.

    I have said from day-one, subsidy-financed, expensive RE that produces expensive junk energy is not for Vermont; the SPEED program is about to balloon in annual cost, because of a mal-guided push by some RE folks to advance their RE business interests.

    Vermont would be much better off concentrating on EE. EE is the low-hanging fruit, has not scratched the surface, is by far the best approach, because it provides the quickest and biggest “bang for the buck”, and

    – it is invisible
    – it does not make noise
    – it does not destroy pristine ridge lines/upset mountain water runoffs
    – it would reduce CO2, NOx, SOx and particulates more effectively than renewables
    – it would not require expensive, highly-visible build-outs of transmission systems
    – it would slow electric rate increases
    – it would slow fuel cost increases
    – it would not lower property values
    – it would not harm people’s health
    – it would slow depletion of fuel resources
    – it would create 3 times the jobs and reduce 3-5 times the Btus and CO2 per invested dollar than renewables
    – all the technologies are fully developed
    – it would end the subsidizing of renewables tax-shelters benefitting mostly for the top 1% at the expense of the other 99%
    – it would be more democratic/equitable
    – it would do all this without public resistance and controversy.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/46652/reducing-energy-use-houses
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61774/wind-energy-expensive
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/64492/wind-energy-reduces-co2-emissions-few-percent
    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/71771/energy-efficiency-first-renewables-later

  11. Willem, its because of the common sense, undeniable and honest list of facts you present above that the opponents of S.30 are forced to rely on snake oil sales pitches such as: “We have to send a message….”.

    Keep up the good work.

  12. John Greenberg :

    Could someone please clarify who made Jeff Wolfe’s letter public? Did Jeff Wolfe do so by publishing it as an op-ed in VT Digger? Or did John Campbell make it public?

    • Andrew Stein :

      John,

      Jeff Wolfe gave VTDigger permission to publish the letter. It was reportedly circulating on Facebook and sent to VTDigger. John Campbell did not make the letter public.

      Best,
      Andrew

      • John Greenberg :

        Thanks. I suspected that, but became curious when several commenters here and elsewhere thanked John Campbell for making it public.

  13. Rob Macgregor :

    I made the unfortunate mistake of voting for Peter Galbraith during his first campaign for Senate, and when he proposed his bit of silly anti-wind legislation during the last session, I wrote him and told him that as a result of his ill considered stance on utility scale wind, that I would not be voting for him again. The only difference is that I was smart enough not to contribute anything to his campaign in the first place.

    As I said in a comment posted to one of the earlier stories about this mountain from a molehill, there certainly is an awful lot of “pot calling kettle black” here, as if no wind opponent has ever attempted some similar arm twisting in an attempt to get an elected official to vote against something favoring wind development. Politics as usual. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yawn….. get over it.

    • Carl Werth :

      Politics as usual = two wrongs make a right?

  14. David Zuckerman :

    As a legislator, I can say that I do not like threatening tactics regardless of who makes them, allies, or opponents to the position of the day.

    I have received plenty of emails about a variety of issues from people who say “if you vote for X, I will remember and will work to get you unelected next time”. I have to say…that is not the most effective argument that I receive. Typically facts and information are more helpful in determining the final way that I will cast my vote.

    I have also asked people who agree with me on an issue to be sure to use factual information and respectful dialogue when trying to convince others of their position.

    As legislators this type of communication comes our way. We have to have thick skins and know that there are times when our friends will disagree with us on an issue. But I have found that if we can discuss difficult issues in a respectful way, then even when we disagree with a friend on an issue that is important to them, they will respect that who they elected or worked for is about their ability to listen, adjust and be thoughtful as much as it is about agreeing 100% of the time.

    I have recently been emailing to people who are pleased that I will be voting against S.30, to say that while we are on the same side, it is important to recognize that the supporters of S.30 are not without merit. There are issues of soil erosion, and there are issues with water quality impacts. Some questions are whether those impacts are greater or lesser than the impacts from the stronger storms generated by climate change? Will these turbines along with other measures that we should take to reduce carbon emissions work toward mitigating those storms?

    These issues are very close and personal to people on all sides of the equation. I have many close friends from past issues around forestry management, ACT 250, and other environmental issues call me to ask me to vote for the bill. They are not NIMBY’s, they are not Neanderthals, many are lifelong environmentalists with a different take on the value of these turbines. At the same token, the folks who are advocating defeat of the bill are very concerned as well, and have a variety of points to be made as well. It is not a cut a dry issue where one side is 100% right.

    There have been folks using bullying terminology on each side of this. But for the vast vast majority of communications that I have received (from both sides), they have been respectful and thoughtful.

    I hope that no vote will be determined by any one “threat”. And I do not think that it will be. I respect that Sen. Campbell was upset with the letter. But I also think it is important to note that many thought that he was supportive of this bill since long before he got that letter. It was also the intent of the legislative body to allow for the vote to occur on a day when every Senator could participate, including Sens. Campbell and Sears…again, long before that letter arrived.

    So we should be careful not to blow the impacts of such a letter out of proportion.

    • David, I can’t help noticing that the word “respectful” appears a total of three times in your post.

      I also recall that when one of the major landowners hosting wind installations appeared before the citizens of a small town he had targeted for another one of these monstrosities, he requested beforehand that they maintain a “polite and respectful” dialogue. Something like that. This from an individual who was coming to town to make their children sick, kill wildlife, render their real estate worthless, etc.

      In each instance, what, exactly, is one supposed to respect? The degree of honesty involved? Such as: Do those in favor of centralized, state control — not much different, in principle, from Josef Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture, which had tragic results — prefer to call themselves “Democrats” rather than “Communists,” thus gleaning a big more legitimacy, and respect? (This approach seems to have worked for Barak Obama.)

      You wrote: “It is not a cut a dry issue where one side is 100% right.”

      It’s actually “cut and dried,” not “cut a dry.”

      Did you confuse it with “cop a feel,” or “cut a fart”?

      With all due respect,

      Ellin Anderson
      Brownington

      • Ellin,
        The word is euphemisms, i.e., NOT calling a spade a spade.

        You will find in GMP, etc., press releases words like hosting, celebrating, ecstatic, wonderful, community wind, etc., regarding building ridge line IWT systems. Do those PR folk really think we are ALL idiots.

        The PR people want to create a pseudo-feel-good reality exuding goodness and motherhood.

        One wonders, whether such PR people are still connected to reality in their private lives.

    • David,

      Voting for S-10, is voting for inefficiency and higher energy prices. Local communities must have local control, not Montpelier command-control. It is part of being a Democracy.

      Here are some facts regarding wind energy on ridge lines.

      In Maine the capacity factor is about 0.25, vs 0.32 or better predicted by IWT developers.

      In Denmark and the UK the average life of wind turbines is 15-20 years versus 25 years claimed, without data, by IWT developers.

      Whereas, Lowell calculated its energy costs at 10 c/kWh, it will likely experience the same; less energy production, shorter lives which translates to increased energy costs.

      More Likely Energy Cost: A percentage of the 10 c/kWh, say 40%, is due to the site preperation (land acquisition, blasting, road building, foundations, site runoff, connection to the grid, etc.) and the rest, 60%, is due the IWTs (mast, nacelle, rotor, etc.). Only the part associated with the wind turbines is affected by a lesser CF and a shorter life.

      Based on at least 35 years of Denmark and UK experience, a more likely life of IWTs is 15 – 20 years, say 17.5 years. More likely energy cost = (0.6 x 10 c/kWh x CF ratio 0.33/0.25 x Life ratio 25/17.5 x S-C system 1.03/1) + (0.4 x 10 c/kWh) = 15.7 c/kWh, heavily-subsidized; it would be 23.6 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per AEI/US-DOE.
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/61309/lowell-mountain-wind-turbine-facility-vermont

      Note:
      – NE grid prices have averaged about 5-6 c/kWh (there are occasional spikes, as shown by below ISO-NE data), have been at that level for about 3 years, are likely to stay there for some decades, as a result of abundant, domestic, low-cost, low-CO2-emitting natural gas.
      http://www.ferc.gov/market-oversight/mkt-electric/new-england/elec-ne-rto-mth-pr.pdf

      – Hydro Quebec and Vermont Yankee pricing is about 5.5-6 c/kWh, inflation and or grid price adjusted; 24/7/365, steady, near-CO2-free energy.

      – GMP bought 60 MW of steady, near-CO2-free nuclear energy at 4.66 cents/kWh, inflation and or grid price adjusted. Smart move, now that Lowell has become a PR disaster and will likely be a financial fiasco as well.

    • Lance Hagen :

      Mr. Zuckerman,

      Let me add to the information provided by Mr. Post. If one assumes that when Lowell Mt. is generating power, Vermont avoids buying power from the grid. This means that we are avoiding the CO2 generated by the grid purchased power.

      Based on the power sources the makeup the New England grid, one can determine the amount of CO2 that is avoided. Over a year, this amounts to 64K tonnes of CO2. This sounds like a lot, until you realize the China emits this amount of CO2 every 3.4 MINUTES.

      So constructing wind turbines on Vermont ridge lines to address CO2 and climate change does not make any sense. Especially when one considers the cost, in $/KWh, of the generated power, the potential health risk and the destruction of our environment. We would definitely get ‘more bang for our buck’ if we invested the $ in lowering our power usage and efficiency.

      Please reconsider your vote.

  15. Lance, I agree with your thoughts, but you better be careful when raising the issue of China and the emission of CO2.

    The other night I posted reservations about the effectiveness of covering our state with wind turbines and solar panels as a way to lower CO2 levels. I went on to suggest that if we really want to do something about CO2 emissions, China and India needed to be convinced to stop building coal fired power plants.

    The World Resources Institute states that there are currently 1200 new coal fired power plants going to be built around the world. Of this this total, 76% will be built by China and India.

    My comments were received as if I had just shown up at a lawn party will a skunk. So much for respect.

    • Avram Patt :

      The China argument has been made with increasing frequency by opponents of wind development in Vermont: Because Vermont is a small place, geographically and only with 600,000+ population, any wind turbines erected here “won’t make a difference.” It doesn’t really matter what Vermont does.

      That’s an argument I’m not used to hearing about Vermont’s place in the world. The logical follow-up question is then: Well, why then would we want to invest in more energy efficiency either, on top of everything we’ve already done? Since we’re so small, what difference would it make as long as they keep using energy in China and India?

      I think the China argument is a pretty troubling one for Vermont to use.

      Also, here’s some interesting information about wind energy development in China, regarding significant progress as well as obstacles to be addressed in making further progress:

      http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/chinas-wind-energy-industry-spirals-higher-20130204-2dua3.html

      http://inhabitat.com/wind-energy-surpasses-nuclear-as-chinas-3rd-largest-energy-source/

      • Lance Hagen :

        Mr. Patt,

        With all due respect, this is not a ‘troubling’ argument. It is just to put CO2 avoidance from wind turbine power in perspective.

        With finite resources, Vermont could achieve better CO2 avoidance results if we applied these resources to better insulate homes and businesses to lower fuel oil consumption. Or provide some type of incentives to drive more fuel efficient vehicles or less mileage.

        Wind turbines are just NOT the answer. They provide minimal CO2 benefit, but come with detrimental ‘baggage’

      • Avram,

        China is building a lot of IWTs, but its wind energy CF is dismal. See table. See my below comment.

        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

        Germany, onshore 0.187; dismal, but rising due to offshore IWTs
        Denmark, including offshore 0.251; rising due to offshore IWTs
        The Netherlands 0.228
        The US 0.289; a high value due to excellent winds in the Great Plains.
        Texas 0.225
        Ireland 0.283; Ireland and Scotland have the best winds in Europe.
        New York State 0.249
        Spain 0.241
        China, 2012 0.166; dismal
        Australia 0.300
        UK, 2012 0.275; rising due to offshore IWTs

    • Bruce Post :

      Having once been on a national policy panel on U.S.-China relations (admittedly, a long time ago), I believe it is easy, and usually wrong, to generalize about China. So, I see little relevance of China to the industrial wind debate here in Vermont, pro or con.

      Here is something I find more relevant to the U.S. and also to Vermont: “Daily Inforgraphic: If everyone live like an American, how many earths would we need.”

      http://www.popsci.com/environment/article/2012-10/daily-infographic-if-everyone-lived-american-how-many-earths-would-we-need

      So, if Vermont truly wants to “show the nation”, maybe the whole state can stop living like Americans. Yet, aside from George Plumb and a few others, I hardly ever hear or read any serious discussion about this.

    • Peter,
      China and India will do what is in their interests.

      As Vermont’s CO2 from energy generation is only 4% of all Vermont’s emissions, and vehicles and buildings emit 75%, one would think the wise ones at the PSB ,and DPS, and legislature energy committees would place the emphasis on high-mileage vehicles and zero energy buildings.

      NO, say the RE promoters, instead, to build our RE businesses, waste scarce money on expensive, inefficient RE SPEED projects that produce intermittent, variable energy, i.e., junk energy at 3 times grid prices.

      NET job creation from RE is negative.

      Jobs ARE created in the RE sector because of the subsidies, but more jobs are LOST in other economic sectors, due to rolling the costly products of inefficient processes into Vermont’s economy; Economics 101 applies.

      Why should our hard-earned tax money be used to buy Chinese solar panels, German inverters, and Danish and Spanish industrial wind turbines that are creating jobs overseas.

      Poor energy policy leads to poor choices and decisions.

      Vermont should be rolling more efficient processes into the economy that will raise living standards.

  16. Avram, if China didn’t have a single coal fired power plant it wouldn’t change the fact that wind turbines in Vermont have little to no effect on improving the state’s air quality. The fact that China is increasing the usage of wind power doesn’t change the utility of wind turbines in Vermont to improve air quality.

    So lets get back to Vermont and evaluate the erection of wind turbines in Vermont as a societal return on investment.

    It sounds to me like you’re espousing the erection of wind turbines in Vermont solely so we can say that we’re doing something and doing something feels good regardless of the cost or what’s accomplished in the end.

    But there are costs to doing something, in this case the something is erecting wind turbines. These costs are economic and include the developers’ capital, government subsidies and other tax considerations. Additionally, there are significant societal costs, such as degrading our ridge lines, harming wild life and the quality of life of those living in the shadow of the wind turbines.

    Now, if the developers want to risk their capital, that’s fine, but I assume that they’re rational economic thinkers with a high expectation of a handsome financial return. Their return is only dependent on selling the produced power at a profitable price. Improving the quality of the air does not fit into their equation of profitability, thus if air quality isn’t improved, no big deal for the developer.

    Risking the people’s capital through government subsidies, carbon credits and tax breaks may not be so fine if society doesn’t get its promised return, which is improved air quality. So if society isn’t getting its promised return, why make the investment to erect wind turbines in the first place?

    Society’s investment goes beyond economic subsidies and credits to include our mountains, wild life and human quality of life, which are placed at risk with the expectation of a return. Again, this expected return is improved air quality. Wind turbines in Vermont will not improve air quality, thus there is no return for the environmental risk assumed by society. If there is no return, why make the investment?

    You have previously asked, if I just propose nothing in the face of global warming. Well, in many instances doing nothing is the best alternative. In this case if the choice is between erecting wind turbines or doing nothing, I would opt for doing nothing. However, there are other things that can be done such as energy efficiency projects, a greater push for higher gas mileage cars or electric cars that meet consumers needs and will be bought.

    So the debate goes on.

    • Peter,
      Follow the money.

      It IS about the subsidies, not CO2 emissions reduction, otherwise Vermont would be doing something about the REAL CO2 emitters, i.e., vehicles and buildings.

  17. There are currently around a quarter of a million wind turbines in the world. The only positive benefit from Vermont’s relatively tiny number will be a miniscule contribution to ultimately debunking Al Gore’s ridiculous claim that the Earth’s forests have somehow suddenly become incapable of breathing in (sequestering) sufficient Carbon Dioxide to prevent that imaginary significant temperature rise which he christened “Global Warming”.

    Meanwhile, this negligible benefit is not worth the horrific detrimental impacts of wind farms on human health and animal populations, as well as their hideous contribution to the destruction of Vermont’s formerly beautiful ridgelines.

    • Krister Adams :

      Mr. Brodie: Are you actually suggesting there is not a global warming/climate change, etc. happening? Where have you been?

      • To start with your last question, I have been living in California for most of my life, where I worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on space exploration missions. While there I learned a few things about astronomy and gained an appreciation for how the Sun regulates the Earth’s temperature. I suggest that you spend some time looking into something called the Milankovich Cycles. You will gain an appreciation for how incredibly powerful is the influence on Earth’s climate of that star called the Sun which we are so very close to.

        There certainly is such a thing as climate cycles, which implies that our planet has been alternately warming and cooling ever since it was created. But I am convinced that the negligible amount of Carbon Dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels is vastly overwhelmed by the Sun’s contributions to the climate. A specious groundwork of pseudo-science has been laid for a scheme whose purpose is to line the pockets of certain large-living, unscrupulous people, and to accustom the rest of us to shaming, blaming, and austerity.

        • Krister Adams :

          Mr. Brodie: I have visited your blog. Obviously, from the blog’s content and your response above, it’s clear you fancy yourself a.man of intellectual superiority over many of us. Understand though, that man has changed, and is rapidly changing, the world’s climate. This is indisputable. The real scientific facts abound. As a father and uncle, I want to leave a healthy earth for the next generation. We must all do what we can, be it little or big. Sir, your notion of “lining pockets” seems somewhat paranoid and will not help make our planet healthy both physically and economically.

          • Mr. Brodie is a mathematical genius; he was developing early computer programs for the B-52 Bomber at age 15. I’m not sure how it would work out mathematically, but it’s possible that his Commie-kill tally beats that of many a Green Beret in Vietnam.

            May I assume that you do NOT consider yourself “a man of intellectual superiority”? If that is true, you have put yourself in a position of having to follow the expert advice of others: in other words, you are a sheep to be led. It’s your choice whose advice to take: that of “respected, established scientists” who are terrified of losing their jobs, and of being ostracized, and are possibly on the take, or that of a disinterested observer with no dog in the fight.

            What is your “indisputable” evidence that the climate is changing, and that people are to blame? Big storms? We’ve always had them. Colder winters? In 17th-century Massachusetts, it was typical to have snow piled up to the second-story windows by spring. I remember one “brown Christmas” after another in the 1970s, and no one said peep about climate change. Back then it was all about pollution. How the ecology movement would have LAUGHED at the thought of planting 100-foot concrete blocks on top of pristine forests!

            For those who are not smart enough, or tough enough, to do something on their own in the fight against pollution (e.g., set up a home office, so that you only use your car once a week), Big Brother and the Nanny State seem to offer simple solutions. Thus are the sheep led to slaughter. When northern New England looks like a pinwheel cushion, with zero effect upon (solar-driven) climate change, it will be too late: but to those with a stake in the game, it won’t matter. The developers will have their subsidy money. The hapless landowners, who could have cashed in over 20 or 30 years with normal economic development in the Northeast Kingdom, will be permanently consigned to the lowest socioeconomic stratum, possibly still waving their chump-change $800 a year in tax savings in everyone’s faces: if anyone is still around to see.

            Please tell me that you DON’T believe that there are people in this world capable of exploiting the ignorant, vis a vis climate change or any other natural phenomenon that cannot be proven one way or the other. You would get a nod and a wink from Christopher Columbus, who would have ended up as a trophy for some Caribe Indians if he had not convinced them of his power to “make the sun disappear and appear again” (i.e., he accurately predicted a solar eclipse). As the father-in-law of a member of the Schiff banking family, who is probably managing the $200 million in oilbucks that dear old dad recently received from the nation of Qatar for his TV station, charlatan Al Gore is ideally positioned to profit from schemes such as cap-and-trade. That doesn’t literally mean trading windmill gusts for puffs of smoke: it will be handled by BANKS, the folks that handle welfare EBT card transactions, etc., at a fat profit.

            By the time these folks get done with us, the offspring you are so worried about won’t have a shirt on their backs, or a dime to their names.

            Ellin Anderson
            Brownington, VT

          • krister adams :

            Ms. Anderson: Because I must work to support my family and pay for the gas taxes, fuel-oil taxes and general extra energy costs due to global warming, I don’t have time as you apparently do, to yammer on about Al Gore, the sun, etc. BUT, I cannot let you, a blowhard of the first order, insult me. I do not consider myself a person of SUPERIOR intelligence as you obviously do.I am however a well-read, well-rounded, intelligent man. I’m sure you’ll dispute this but I really don’t care as there often is no convincing the far-right, zealous, narrow-minded among us.

            “Commie-Kill”…really? You must be a disciple of Mcarthy.

          • Carl Werth :

            Krister – I’m equally convinced that there is no convincing the far-left, zealous narrow-minded among us either.

  18. Indeed Willem, I couldn’t agree with you more, just follow the money. It is absolutely amazing the strangle hold the renewable energy industry has managed to achieve over the thinking of so many in the state.

    Those in the renewable industry are wholly motivated by their own financial self interest, which is fine in a free market economy. However, we cannot lose sight of the reality that their business goals are void of anything meaningful for the public good for Vermont. The only thing a Spanish company setting up business in Vermont is interested in, is returning dollars to Spain.

    But, what’s so disheartening is that so many of our traditional watch dogs, such as the Legislature, regulatory authorities and the environmental movement have effectively tuned out any willingness to examine the real costs vs benefit of large scale renewable development.

    Now, I would consider vtdigger’s Anne Galloway a pretty astute observer of the Vermont political scene. On Friday night, while on “Vermont This Week” (I believe that’s the show’s correct name, if I’m wrong, I’ll hear from John Greenberg), Anne stated that even if S.30 passes in the Senate, its most likely DOA in the House because of Tony Klein. Now how can that be?

    Like you said Willem, follow the money.

  19. Avram

    Projected World CO2 Emissions (million metric tonnes) by 2035 

    22,700 in 1990
    29,890 in 2008
    31,630 in 2009
    33,160 in 2010
    33,990 in 2011
    43,200 in 2035, projected based on IEA assumptions.

    In 2011, some major CO2 emitters (million metric ton) were:

                                                         2011        2010          

    China                                                8,880           8,330
    USA                                                6,027           6,145
    India                                                 1,800           1,700
    Russia                                              1,670           1,700
    Japan                                               1,300           1,300
    Germany                                              804            828
    Vermont 8.1 8.1

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Global_Warming_Observed_CO2_Emissions_from_fossil_fuel_burning_vs_IPCC_scenarios.jpg

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/31/world-carbon-dioxide-emissions-country-data-co2#zoomed-picture

    http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=IEO2011&subject=0-IEO2011&table=10-IEO2011&region=0-0&cases=Reference-0504a_1630

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/13/entertainment-us-carbon-emissions-study-idUSBRE8AC0J320121113

    • So over the 3 year period from 2008 to 2011 there was an average yearly CO2 emissions increase of 1.367 Billion tons. But over the 24 years following 2011 there is projected to be an average yearly increase of only 384 Million tons – a 356 percent decrease! (this is under the assumption that you meant to say “through 2035″ instead of “by 2035″).

      It makes you wonder how it can be predicted with such precision, over such a long period of time, exactly what will be the combined effect of changes in increased emissions from some sources versus decreased emissions from others. Of course it can’t, but then climate change and global warming have always been based on sleight of hand arguments with the singular goal of benefiting financially those nefarious interests who have known all along just how they would be able to profit from their deception.

      • Richard,
        A greater increase of annual CO2 emissions has occurred during the past few years, primarily due to China’s coal combustion, but the EIA projection, made about 1.5 years ago, did not get adjusted. It is likely the EIA 2035 value will be exceeded.

        I was hoping Avram would comment on the world CO2 emissions of 33,990 in 2011 and Vermont’s 8.1 (million metric ton), but, so far, not a peep.

        For tiny Vermont to “be a leader, show the world, fight GW and CC, etc.”, and concentrate on energy generation on ridge lines using the ill-conceived, ballooning, SPEED program, with its excessive subsidies and feed-in tariffs, is well beyond rational. Such bravura makes Vermont look silly in the eyes of the world.

        Vermont would be much wiser/smarter to concentrate on EE and high-mileage vehicles, which would actually benefit households and businesses.

        Please read these articles.
        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/107316/global-warming-coal-combustion-and-sea-level-rise

        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/151031/global-warming-targets-and-capital-costs-germany-s-energiewende

        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

        • Avram Patt :

          I fully agree that the State of Vermont is tiny, geographically and in population, compared to the enormous nation of China. I also agree that we emit less carbon and other emissions in total than China emits in total.

          • Avram,
            Agreeing with published numbers is fine, but what should be done in the face of such a reality check; China ADDS each year about 70 times all of Vermont’s annual CO2 emissions.

            Vermont would be seen as smarter/wiser by concentrating its very scarce resources and subsidies on buildings and vehicles, which in Vermont are the BIG CO2 emitters, (75% of CO2 emissions), whereas energy generation is a SMALL CO2 emitter (4% of CO2 emissions).

            As you know. energy efficiency is invisible, does not make noise, does not create social discord, AND, as you know, is soooo much less costly to implement, unlike ridge line wind turbines.

      • Richard,
        The increase was 11,290 for the 1990-2011 period
        The projected increase is 9,210 for 2012-2035 period

        • Willem,

          Thanks for the clarification. Using these figures, covering a longer period, yields yearly averages of 537 before 2011, compared with 400 after 2011 – a mere 26 percent decrease. This does not speak very favorably about the effectiveness of “renewable” energy schemes, or at least the environmentally destructive ones like wind farms.

          Instead of all these ugly turbines, that require the removal of large swaths of trees and thereby diminish the CO2 sequestering power of our forests, perhaps we should instead plant MORE trees which would not only PROVABLY remove more CO2, but would do so with the beneficial health effect of more Oxygen, instead of the damaging health effects of wind turbines.

          • Yes, Richard, and that is a major reason for passing S-10, so people can give all these programs a thorough trimming and review, before the costs balloon out of control, as the SPEED program is about to do.

            See my above comment for the SPEED ballooning details.

    • So over the 3 year period from 2008 to 2011 there was an average yearly CO2 emissions increase of 1.367 Billion tons. But over the 24 years following 2011 there is projected to be an average yearly increase of only 384 Million tons – a 356 percent decrease! (this is under the assumption that you meant to say “through 2035″ instead of “by 2035″.)

      It makes you wonder how it can be predicted with such precision, over such a long period of time, exactly what will be the combined effect of changes in increased emissions from some sources versus decreased emissions from others. Of course it can’t, but then climate change and global warming have always been based on sleight of hand arguments with the singular goal of benefitting financially those nefarious interests who have known all along just how they would be able to profit from their deception.

      • John Greenberg :

        Richard Brodie writes: “this is under the assumption that you meant to say “through 2035″ instead of “by 2035″”

        Your assumption is wrong. If you look at the 3rd link in the list Willem Post provides above (eia.gov … etc.), it shows the entire spreadsheet from which the number is pulled. Both Willem and the EIA clearly state that the number is for the year 2035, NOT for the years “through” 2035.

        Perhaps your inability to read or check sources rather than your “mathematical genius” (see Ellin Anderson’s comment above) accounts for your differences with the vast majority of scientists working in the field who believe in the “tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC)?”

        Just so we’re all clear on THOSE numbers, a study published by the National Academy of Sciences used: “an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data” to “show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.” http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.abstract But why trust the National Academy of Sciences when we have a “mathematical genius” to make everything clear and simple for us?

        Surely, the NAS study must prove only that over 1300 of these researches have used “sleight of hand arguments with the singular goal of benefitting financially those nefarious interests….”

        Fortunately, there’s plenty of benign, disinterested money available from oil companies to counteract them — $250 million spent just on lobbying by just the oil companies alone in 2009-2010, an amount actually exceeded by electric utilities that same year (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010/09/27/206784/dirty-money-oil-companies-special-interest-polluters-spend-millions-to-kill-climate-bil/ ). Given these staggering sums, it truly is remarkable to find that 97% of these scientists managed to finagle even more money from Al Gore’s in-laws (why sell out to the low bidder?), and still more remarkable that all of these scientists prefer to sell out their credibility rather than writing what they honestly believe, or, e.g., advancing their own careers or maintaining their scientific integrity.

        It’s certainly a good thing we intellectual peasants have you around to explain all this.

        • Wow, just wow.

          What a nasty, frantic, unnecessarily personal post. John, I thought you owned a bookstore. No one is calling you a peasant, except you.

          As to Mr. Brodie: Gorgeous blond California guys don’t need to be perfect at math forever and ever. They just get to “be.”

          In case you had ever wondered.

          This will be my last post to this thread. See you all after the Senatorial event, tomorrow.

          Ellin Anderson
          Brownington, VT

  20. John, if you will correct the misinformation you just delivered then I will gladly respond. All three of Willem’s
    links were to the same site viz. theenergycollective.com. None were to eia.gov, but upon checking out his third link there was no “entire spreadsheet” which you led us to believe we would see there. But what I did see was around FORTY additional links! I trust you will not fault me for an “inability to read or check sources” when I tell you that, operating as I do in a dial-up environment, I have no intention of spending the hours of time it would take to open all those links and then “read and check” them.

  21. I must apologize. The first of my two duplicate responses, made at 12.51 PM, did not go into an “awaitng moderation” state right away, as it usually does. I had to make a trip into town and did not return until mid-afternoon. By then Willem had made another post (which was the only one I noticed) and not seeing my response, I concluded that it had not been successfully posted. Having saved it in Word (for spell-checking) I copied and pasted it at 3:10 PM as a second attempt at responding. Hence my confusion about the links.

  22. John Greenberg :

    Richard:

    I’m not quite sure whether your 9:17 post is intended to retract your 8:58 post or not.

    To be clear on my end, in any case, there is no “misinformation” in my previous post to correct. I referred to Willem’s 12:36 post, to which your 2:51 post is clearly a response. In Willem’s post, if you count down to the 3rd link, you will find: http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=IEO2011&subject=0-IEO2011&table=10-IEO2011&region=0-0&cases=Reference-0504a_1630, which you can then download as a spreadsheet.

    • John,

      Yes, my apology was intended as a retraction of my mistaken accusation of misinformation. I am very sorry, and hope you understand that it was based on an unfortunate mix-up. You may want to check out my response today (1:17 and possibly still awaiting moderation) to Willem’s post of 5:22 PM yesterday, where he provides more data which I presume comes from the eia.gov site.

      • John Greenberg :

        Thanks for the retraction.

        I did see your response to Willem. You’re both misusing the figures. This is labeled as the reference case, and therefore not intended to, in your words, “speak very favorably about the effectiveness of “renewable” energy schemes.”

        Without closely examining it, I am assuming that this is the case to which, for example, more aggressive renewable energy schemes would be compared. Put differently, this is the “business as usual” case.

        • I’m glad we could clear the air and be able to get on with more productive discourse. I take full responsibility for the distracting detour.

          I don’t think that what is going on right now with inefficient wind power can be characterized as “more aggressive” RE. So if getting more aggressive means putting up a hundred thousand turbines all over what will have to be renamed the “Silver Mountain State”, then perhaps it is time to move in more promising directions, such as solar and/or nuclear, and away from the failed alternative.

  23. Ellen Anderson,
    A masterful comment to Mr. Brodie’s comment. I wish I could write as well as you.

  24. Sorry, I meant Krister Adams, instead of Brodie

    • Yes, Willem, I see what you meant. (THIS will be my final post to the thread.)

      I am now an impoverished poet, but in the past, I have been a professional advertising and marketing copywriter. Much of what I write here is just muscle-flexing, and not to be taken too seriously (to those who feel that they have been used as my personal Nautilus machine.) So, it’s never meant to be personal.

      HOWEVER, when I see poor, trusting rural people being abused by fat cats with no conscience whatsoever — deprived of their very health and homes, so that some wind-developer’s wife can down “Strawbery” latte’s by the score, and splurge on a diamond belly ring, a powder-blue Lexus, or a trip to Sandals Resort — it makes my blood boil, and I have to get involved and do what I can. Some of it seems beyond my abilities. Is it time for a Hollywood scriptwriter to step in? (As in, “A Civil Action” — ?)

      On that note: Let’s see if the Vermont Senate, allegedly a democratic (small d) governing body, votes for or against democracy today.

      Ellin Anderson
      Browington, VT

  25. Did anyone see the report on wind turbines on Channel 3 at 6 PM today?

    The report cited an incredible myriad of wind turbine problems ranging from low operational efficiency, over capacity, problems transporting the power, environmental and there may have been others I missed. The report didn’t get into issues relating to air quality improvement, which would have been another negative.

    There can be debate on what was reported, however, there definitely are enough problems here to slow down rabid rush to construction we’re getting from the renewable industry.

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