Shumlin awards solar deal to firm of campaign supporter

Two AllSun Trackers manufactured by AllEarth Renewables at a home in Alburgh. AllEarth Renewables photo

Two AllSun Trackers manufactured by AllEarth Renewables at a home in Alburgh. AllEarth Renewables photo

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced what could be the largest solar project in Vermont history Wednesday, teaming up with AllEarth Renewables to build up to 5 megawatts worth of solar trackers in connection with state buildings.

David Blittersdorf

David Blittersdorf

Shumlin’s longtime political ally and contributor, David Blittersdorf, is the founder and CEO of AllEarth Renewables, but the Shumlin administration says politics had nothing to do with this decision. Bids for the project were initially submitted in 2011, and the administration says Tropical Storm Irene waylaid the project. Due to a communications error, administration officials said they could not provide the bids until Thursday.

“This contract was awarded to the best bidder after a competitive process,” said Louis Porter, Shumlin’s secretary of Civil and Military Affairs. “Responses to this one were reviewed by a team of state employees … in addition to the Buildings and General Services contracting staff. This agreement will save taxpayer money, while furthering our goal of increasing the use of renewable energy.”

The Shumlin administration estimates that a final deal, which has not yet been signed, will save the state $1 million over a 20-year period. AllEarth Renewables spokesman Andrew Savage said Thursday that the company would net no more than $5 million for the project and defended the selection of the company.

“Who else in Vermont would you propose to do this volume of solar manufacturing and installation with local work?” Savage said.

The 5 megawatts of solar will be broken into 10 separate projects to take advantage of the state’s net-metering program, which requires utilities to credit renewable energy projects that are less than 500 kilowatts in capacity for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they produce. The hitch is that a net-metering project must be tied to a property that consumes energy for the credits to be worth anything.

“We will be entered into a net metering agreement for solar power to ensure we hook up 10 of our state buildings to solar power to help lead the way as we make the transformation from fossil fuels, coal and other fuels that are killing our planet to solar that is clean, green renewable power,” Shumlin said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The new solar projects will net meter from seven correctional facilities across the state, the Pavilion building that houses the governor’s offices, a state office building in Brattleboro and state offices in Bennington. The solar trackers won’t necessarily be located at those facilities, but they will be financially connected to them for net-metering purposes. The administration has yet to iron out the specifics of siting the trackers.

Under Vermont law, a utility must credit a net-metering client at least 20 cents for every kWh the client produces up until the point when those credits completely offset a client’s energy bill. To learn more about the state’s net-metering law, read here.

Since AllEarth will own and install the trackers, AllEarth will get the bulk of these total credits in the form of cash, said Emily Montgomery, a staff attorney for the Department of Buildings and General Services.

The state signed a large, umbrella agreement with AllEarth in October 2012, but the value of that deal will come from power purchase and lease agreements.

For all of these solar projects, whether they are on state land or not, the state will keep 5 percent of the credit, thus lowering its energy bill by up to 5 percent. AllEarth will earn 95 percent of the energy credit in dollars.

“We pay our utility bill as normal, but then there is a credit, and the state pays 95 percent of that credit amount to AllEarth,” Montgomery said.

If the trackers are installed on state land, the state would get to keep an extra 5 percent of the credits, saving up to 10 percent on its energy bill for a given facility in a year.

The deal is mutually beneficial for the state and for AllEarth. The state is providing 10 entities for AllEarth to net meter from, and, in return, AllEarth will give the state a cut of the credit. This type of agreement is more common among entities with no tax appetite than it is for private businesses that can take advantage of tax credits.

The five-member evaluation committee for the state, which included Deputy Secretary of Administration Michael Clasen, recommended AllEarth because the company “was the most qualified due to their ability to provide approximately 60 kilowatt projects and 150 kilowatt projects.”

During Shumlin’s 2012 political campaign, AllEarth contributed $4,000 under two separate legal entities. The state’s maximum allowable donation per corporation is $2,000, and AllEarth Renewables Inc. and AllEarth Services LLC both contributed that amount. Blittersdorf also contributed $2,000. In 2010, the year Shumlin was first elected to the governor’s office, Blittersdorf contributed $8,000 to Shumlin via four different limited liability companies. The renewables entrepreneur also funded a $20,000 issue ad campaign that blasted Brian Dubie, Shumlin’s Republican opponent, for his support of Vermont Yankee.

This story was updated at noon Thursday to clarify the amount of money AllEarth Renewables stands to net from the project.

Andrew Stein

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66 Comments on "Shumlin awards solar deal to firm of campaign supporter"

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Coleman Dunnar
3 years 12 days ago

So for $6000 in contributions I can buy a state contract that returns $10 million wow, who do I send my check to? “but the Shumlin administration says politics had nothing to do with this decision.”
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” Governor -It’s time to stop insulting the public.

Matthew Hall
3 years 8 days ago

If you want, you can send the money to me… I’ll make sure to take care of it. 🙂

3 years 12 days ago

Seems to me, based on AllEarth Renewables extensive experience in the types of projects the State is looking for, the State couldn’t have chosen a better company to deal with. Just check out the town of Hinesburg’s Solar Farm – http://www.allearthrenewables.com/assets/Uploads/Case-Studies/Case-Study-HinesburgV8.pdf

Then there’s Vermont Business Magazine’s list of Best Places to Work in 2013 with AllEarth Renewables coming in at #3. So, a Vermont company, doing good by its employees and making solar deals across the country. Yes, I think they are qualified to make this deal work with the state.

Fred Woiogmaster
3 years 12 days ago
Mr. Farnham: “Yes I think they are qualified to make this deal work with the state.” Your assertion(s) might be entirely correct. There was a time, however, when the semblance of ‘conflict of interest’in and of itself was sufficient to cause pause. That is no longer true, in part because of the huge amounts of money being poured into political campaigns. The inordinately powerful influence of money in politics is contributing to the disintegration of the democratic process. Friends help friends; a universal truth. For the sake of democracy, when public money is involved the process must be an open… Read more »
Matt Fisken
3 years 12 days ago
“The 5 megawatts of solar will be broken into 10 separate projects to take advantage of the state’s net-metering program, which requires utilities to credit renewable energy projects that are less than 500 kilowatts in capacity for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they produce. The hitch is that a net-metering project must be tied to a property that consumes energy for the credits to be worth anything. … The solar trackers won’t necessarily be located at those facilities, but they will be financially connected to them for net-metering purposes.” Completely ignoring the appearance of conflict of interest and crony capitalism here, this… Read more »
Don Peterson
3 years 12 days ago

Blittersdorf offered the Town of Lowell 10% off their energy bill, not 5%.

Hilton Dier
3 years 10 days ago
Every other news story I have read on this says 500 kilowatts total capacity, not 5 megawatts. And this phrase: “500 kilowatts in capacity for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they produce.” is meaningless. Each news story garbles the numbers in its own special way. As for the financials, I suppose the state could have winkled another 5% or so out of the deal. Apparently it does get 10% off for any installations on state land. The problem is that for the state to own the systems the gov would have had to wring money out of the legislature to finance it,… Read more »
Matt Fisken
3 years 10 days ago
Hilton, It’s 10 separate installations of 500 kW (0.5 MW) each. That’s how they get the 5 MW total. “And this phrase: “500 kilowatts in capacity for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they produce.” is meaningless.” Without the context of the rest of the sentence, I agree. Andrew also could have said, “the state’s net-metering program … requires utilities to credit renewable energy projects that are less than 500 kilowatts in capacity for [the electricity] they produce” which may have been less confusing. “When (not if) fracked gas rises to its true cost of production, people on our 40% gas dependent grid… Read more »
Annette Smith
3 years 12 days ago

What happens with the RECs? Apparently Green Lantern and NRG (partnering with GMP on solar in Rutland) are selling the RECs out of state for those projects, which means they are not really renewable energy for Vermonters.

It would be helpful to the public understanding of the kinds of deals that are being made to do a more indepth review of the various solar deals that are being made in cities and towns around the state.

Are Vermonters investing in energy that genuinely meets the definition of renewable?

Are these good deals? Are some better than others?

patrick cashman
3 years 12 days ago

You forgot “Georgia Mountain Community Wind LLC” of which Blittersdorf is the majority owner. $4,000 in 2012; $2,000 to Shumlin and $2,000 to the Vt Democratic party per followthemoney.org.

Patrick Cashman
3 years 12 days ago
My mistake, I took a look at the Secretary of State Corporations search to see what other companies are associated with Mr. Blittersdorf and bounced those off followthemoney.org. Found a few more. Chittenden County Solar Partners – $2,000 to Mr. Shumlin. Green Acres Solar Partners – $2,000 to Mr. Shumlin. Renewable Energy Vermont – $2,000 to Mr. Shumlin. And while those are specific to 2012, another fun one is “Vermont Dragonfly, LLC”. Now inactive, it appears to have existed only for a single year and the product of the corporation appears to consist solely of another $2,000 donation to Mr.… Read more »
patrick cashman
3 years 11 days ago

The best part is the business description off Dragonfly from their corporate filing is “Anything Lawful”.
The arrogance of the born-wealthy 1% is astounding.

Keith Stern
3 years 10 days ago

The born wealthy, huh? I can’t think of anyone more arrogant than our senator from New York. Then again how many politicians are genuinely humble when they are in private?

3 years 12 days ago

Don’t forget the $20,000 Blittersdorf gave to Green Mountain Future in 2010, the Democratic Governors Association front organization that ran negative ads against Brian Dubie.

Or the unknown amount of money Blittersdorf has funneled into VPIRG to turn that organization into what is essentially the lobbying arm of his companies.

Keith Stern
3 years 12 days ago

AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

Craig Kneeland
3 years 12 days ago
Great opportunity for State facilities connected to GMP. All other customers and facilities are prohibited from participating because of a PBS rule limiting small utilities ability to connect no more than 4% of that utility’s peak demand. As pointed out correctly by our VT Cooperatives, connection of renewables through net metering ends up being a burden on the ordinary rate payer who has no opportunity to connect renewables. It is distressing to learn from this announcement that a new definition of “meter” is required to make the credits work for those facilities that use less KWH than the installed solar… Read more »
Keith Stern
3 years 12 days ago

We can continue to cover our fields with ugly black panels and chop off mountain tops and cover them with turbines. VT will be a beautiful state to visit but at least we are doing our part to stop the scientifically proven false global warming problem. Since in reality the earth is actually cooling the solar panel will work as heat collectors and help alleviate the effects of global cooling when it starts here.
Why is it so difficult to understand climate change? Maybe because they can’t get rich off from that because it occurs naturally.

Randy Koch
3 years 12 days ago

The Artful Dodger strikes again! Blittersdorf, chirping “quid pro quo! quid pro quo!”, gets to use public property as a cash cow while the public gets to play the role of Jerry Dodge.

Jim Christiansen
3 years 12 days ago

Andrew,

Do we know the total cost of this project?

Determining the ROI received by a friend of the governor for a State contract could help determine if this is a good deal for Vermonters, or just a good deal among friends at the expense of our electric rates.

Thanks.

Duncan Kilmartin
3 years 12 days ago
Two stories in today’s Vermont Digger, the Mylan Technologies end around Constitutional legislative oversight, and the Bittendorf/Shumlin solar scam, illustrate a concept I have been repeating ad nauseum for the last 14 years since the Champion Land Deal in Essex County: “In Vermont, all risks are placed on the backs of Vermont taxpayers and ratepayers by the VERY government that is supposed to protect them.” That is especially true in the utility field, where the friends of Shumlin, are made multimillionaires on the backs of the increasingly impoverished Vermonters, e.g. the sellout of 70% of Vermont’s electrical and 100% of… Read more »
Doug Hoffer
3 years 12 days ago

The figures you cited on wages do not square with official data.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment & Wage data for 2012, the median hourly wage in Vermont was $16.61 compared to $14.40 in Alabama.

The average hourly wage was $21.00 in Vermont and $19.01 in Alabama.

The average annual wage was $43,680 in Vermont and $39,550 in Alabama.

A VT Biz article in Sept. 2012 reported that the Census ACS median household income in Vermont was $52,776, while Alabama was $41,415 (the U.S. was $50,502).

The poverty rate in Vermont was 11.5% and 19% in Alabama (U.S. was 15.9%).

3 years 12 days ago
Calling a Spade a Spade: The January 2010 Vermont State Agency Energy Plan, SAEP, shows 8,200,000 sq ft of state buildings consumed 1,150,000 x 1 million Btu in 2009, or 140,244 Btu/sq ft in 2009. http://bgs.vermont.gov/sites/bgs/files/pdfs/BGS-VTStateEnergyPlan.pdf NEW energy efficient buildings would consume about 25,000 Btu/sq ft/yr, or LESS for heating, cooling and electricity. The SAEP also shows 24% of the energy was for electricity and 76% for HVAC. (0.24 x 1,150,000 x 1 million Btu)/(3,413 Btu/kWh) = 81 million kWh, or 81 GWh The State of Vermont consumes 81/5600 = 14.5% of all electricity in Vermont!! Blittersdorf;’s 5 MW of… Read more »
3 years 11 days ago
Correction to above comment: Vermont’s government uses 81/5600 = 1.45% of all energy in Vermont. Without PV solar, The kWh/yr consumption of each designated building would have been bought by the state from GMP for about 14 c/kWh, assuming the commercial rate. GMP’s energy mix cost is about 5.5 c/kWh, The difference is the GMP other costs, overhead and profit. With PV solar, GMP will be paying 20 c/kWh for the fed-to-the-grid solar energy to Blittersdorf and Co, and the state will either reimburse GMP for the 20-14 = 6 c/kWh difference, or for the 20-5.5 = 14.5 c/kWh difference.… Read more »
frank seawright
3 years 12 days ago

“This contract was awarded to the best bidder after a competitive process,”

Wonder what made him the Best.

Kelly Stettner
3 years 12 days ago

I hope that every single person who voted for Shumlin is PAYING ATTENTION…wake up when the next election cycle comes up!

Tom Pelham
3 years 12 days ago
Andrew….I bit more clarity on this deal would be helpful. Are there now separate meters for the Pavilion Bldg. and the other 9 facilities incorporated in this deal such that hard electric consumption data exists for each? Ms. Montgomery at BGS should have this information. This information is important in order to ascertain how much of AllEarth’s revenue will be “adder” revenue paid by GMP’s other rate payers and how much will be revenue from AllEarth’s selling into the grid any extra KWh’s above those used by these facilities, also paid by GMP’s other ratepayers. This deal appears quite different… Read more »
3 years 11 days ago
Tom, You bring up a good point. The solar trackers will likely not be located near the buildings and will likely directly feed into the grid. The designated buildings may not have individual meters. It is less costly to have fewer meters by grouping buildings and metering them with one meter as a group. Will 100% of the production of the solar trackers be reimbursed at 20 c/kWh, or will it be the difference of the production minus what the buildings use? The current use of the buildings is bought from GMP at about 14 c/kWh, assuming commercial rates. If,… Read more »
Timothy MacLam
3 years 12 days ago

Gov. Shumlin can proudly wear the tag, “Governor for Sale or Lease” much as our Congress does. If he had ANY ethics at all he would have to hold out for more $$$.

How many megawatts will it take to shine the light on this shifty, slick huckster so people can really see what he is all about?

Democrats, run somebody else in 2014.

3 years 11 days ago

In politics money buys access. Access is the payoff for money given to politicians. Our slippery governor is available to his contributors.Government is not for sale.It is bought and paid for already. Sad.

Brian Flynn
Craftsbury Common, Vt

Timothy MacLam
3 years 11 days ago

Money seems to be the only way to have access to the governor. He certainly does his best to avoid the rest of us.

David Dempsey
3 years 10 days ago

Timothy,
Vermont needs a few hundred thousand voters that have your common sense and respect for the state to get our priorities back in line.

Kevin Jones
3 years 11 days ago
While there is lots of room for improvement in Vermont’s flawed renewable energy policies this announcement by Governor Shumlin and his staff largely deserves our praise and support. State government should set a standard for businesses and individuals in taking on our climate challenge in a way that is compatible with the Vermont landscape and this announcement about the state committing to solar energy for state buildings is welcome news in that regard. Vermont’s net metering program is by far our most successful renewable energy policy and the State of Vermont’s use of this approach hopefully signals a long-term commitment… Read more »
3 years 11 days ago

Kevin wrote:

“State government should set a standard for businesses and individuals in taking on our climate challenge in a way that is compatible with the Vermont landscape and this announcement about the state committing to solar energy for state buildings is welcome news in that regard.”

Thank you. That is the only news here.

The only other issue I would raise pertains to: “solar manufacturing and installation with local work.”

I assume this means the panels are Made in USA not China: better yet, that they are made in Vermont?

Willem Post
3 years 11 days ago

Ellington, the inverters are about $3500 for a 5kW system, often made in Germany.
Panels are usually made in China, rarely in the US
That means most of the rest of the parts is bric-a-brac readily available anywhere.
Jobs? After it is installed almost no jobs for about 20 to 25 years.

Keith Stern
3 years 11 days ago

Jobs? Who cares about jobs? Not the liberals for sure.

Fred Woogmaster
3 years 11 days ago

Mr: Stern:

Most of your comments appear to originate from a right/conservative bias, many of which sound like knee-jerk partisan responses.

This particular comment, however, is absurd and of absolutely no value.

Why do you find the need to contribute such drivel?

Fred Woogmaster
Independent

I am a political Independent!

Keith Stern
3 years 10 days ago
A political independent huh? How many independents have you voted for? By definition an independent only votes for those who aren’t in a party. Tell me, do you vote for a balance of left and right thinking politicians? As long as you’re disclosing let’s hear the entire story. Let me disclose I choose a candidate’s record of accomplishment and integrity/ethics before anything else. I am proud to say I voted for Ross Perot twice because he was the one candidate who had the integrity and the ideas to make this country better. I also voted for Ralph Nader twice and… Read more »
Patrick Cashman
3 years 11 days ago
Ms. Anderson, That’s a morally tenuous position. Just because you believe in a particular cause does not mean you should be willing to forgive any and all means used to advance that cause. There is a lot of money to be made in various causes, this being one example in which a very large donor to the Governor benefits considerably by being selected to advance a particular cause. Mr. Blittersdorf has also previously benefitted greatly from state policy decisions being made by elected officials he supports financially. For another example you may want to look to the no-bid contract awarded… Read more »
Fred Woogmaster
3 years 9 days ago

Mr. Cashman:

“Mr. Blittersdorf has also previously benefitted greatly from state policy decisions being made by elected officials he supports financially.”

I do not doubt that. Would you specify, please.

patrick cashman
3 years 8 days ago

Sure thing. There’s an excellent summary of the sudden windfall Mr. Blittersdorf received courtesy of the Governor in 2011 at http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2011/04/26/komline-a-pattern-of-undue-influence/

Matt Fisken
3 years 11 days ago

Kevin,

Since you have installed net metered PV on your home, would you mind sharing some of your experiences? What company did you go with? How many kW of panels did you install? How many kWh/month do you generate? How many kWhs do you consume? How have your electricity consumption habits changed since installing your system?

Thanks!

Dexter Lefavour
3 years 11 days ago

…..and what is the real cost to VT taxpayers and electric rate payers? OUCH!

add 5% to your electric bill for Efficiency VT

pay who? State or AER? $0.20/kwhr + the difference between your rates and $0.20 if less than $0.20

regressive taxation doing diddly for climate change

Moshe Braner
3 years 11 days ago
This solar plan has nothing to do with state buildings. I’ll explain: If I were to set up a solar PV system feeding power into the grid, GMP would not pay me cash. It would only reduce, or eliminate, my bill. Thus it’s not really “net metering”, it is “zero plus metering”. And this rule is a disincentive for me to do that, since my electricity consumption is minimal. In other words, this rule is an incentive for waste, disincentive for conservation and efficiency. Now compare with this “state buildings” plan. The solar generation equipment will not be owned by… Read more »
Matt Fisken
3 years 10 days ago

Moshe gets it.

As David Hallquist is quoted in another article (http://vtdigger.wpengine.com/2013/07/10/tensions-rise-as-credits-for-solar-cut-into-utility-budgets/):

“What’s really killing us are the large commercial net metering projects at about 500 kW. Our average solar installation on the home is about 6 kW.”

Grid-tied solar folks incorrectly think “distributed” power is going to somehow save our grid. What we should be investing in is “decentralized” power, or micro-grids.

Fred Woogmaster
3 years 10 days ago

Mr Stern: Common ground is what I seek.
Polarization obscures common ground.
Statements like the one I responded to
can only serve to polarize. Our humanity
is what we have in common, political
affiliation notwithstanding.

Fred Woogmaster
Independent

Keith Stern
3 years 10 days ago

That is commendable but from my view I don’t see the liberals willing to seek common ground. Anytime Republicans disagree they are labeled obstructionists and the people are told lies such as they want to have poor people starving in the streets.
Find common ground with that tactic.

Fred Woogmaster
3 years 10 days ago

Mr. Stern:

Those among the “liberals” and those among the “Republicans” who understand that The Truth is in the center and do seek ‘common ground’ despite differences – are my allies.

Those who thrive on divisiveness and the demonizing of others with opposing views – are not. Where there is the will, common ground can be found.

Fred Woogmaster
Imdependent

Keith Stern
3 years 10 days ago

Unfortunately the majority aren’t willing or can’t find common ground. Take healthcare for one excellent example: the bill will be devastating to our economy and have minimal positive effect compared to the harm it will do but the Democrats aren’t willing to concede the truth and will let the damage be done.

Fred Woogmaster
3 years 10 days ago

Mr. Stern:

I do not subscribe to your analysis.

You mentioned your past support of Ross Perot in a previous comment. I believe that M. Jerome Diamond, a staunch Democrat,(?)was Perot’s spokesperson in Vermont. My memory has proven to be quite fallible, however.

Seems a bit ironic that you and Jerry Diamond were both supporters of Perot; ‘common ground’?

Keith Stern
3 years 9 days ago
It isn’t the liberal ideology I am opposed to. I disagree with most liberal ideas. It is the liberals’ their way of operating. There isn’t a bigger liberal than Ralph Nader but he never used trickery and deceit to accomplish his record which is most impressive. I have been in debates with Peter Welch several times and he will talk for several minutes without saying anything. We had one question where we were asked if George W lied about Iraq. He took three minutes to answer that he did without ever saying that he had. I like politicians who can… Read more »
Duncan Kilmartin
3 years 9 days ago
Re: Doug Hoffer’s “disputing” Vt Biz reprint of Dec 2012 Census Statistics. See Vt Biz for 8/16/13. Hoffer’s statistics do not match those of the article. Simply read it! Sorry to be so late correcting the State Treasurer, but better late than never. The average weekly wage for Alabama was $854 per week and for Vermont $829. Alabama ranked #33 in the nation for average weekly wages. Vermont ranked #37. Who had the highest? Washington, D.C. @ $1703, more than twice that of Vermont. The highest New England state was #3 nationally, Connecticut @ $1253, followed by #4 nationally, Massachusetts… Read more »
Keith Stern
3 years 9 days ago

Just look on both sides of the Connecticut River in the Upper Valley and you can see the tale of two governmental mindsets. Obvious which one is better.

Doug Hoffer
3 years 9 days ago
Mr. Kilmartin You have not “corrected” me, you simply restated your initial post. My figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. They are all exactly as I reported. The link for each is posted below. If you think they are in error, please provide evidence in support of your position. The reason they don’t match those presented in the VT Biz article is that those were for one quarter and mine were for the entire year. The first three data points were all from the BLS, OES (see All Occupations at the top of the… Read more »
Fred Woogmaster
3 years 9 days ago

Mr. Hoffer: Thanks for the clarification.
I am not certain as to what
it all means – really; I am pretty
certain that you are the right guy
for the job of Auditor.
The truth; we need to know the truth.

Fred Woogmaster
Plainfield

Keith Stern
3 years 9 days ago

I wonder how the numbers would change if one removed employment in healthcare and government since that is where a high percentage of jobs are in Vermont.

Doug Hoffer
3 years 8 days ago
It would take a great deal of work to answer your question. For now, I can give you some relevant information. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government jobs represent 19.7% of all jobs in Alabama; for Vermont, the figure is 17.8%. Health care jobs in Vermont represent 12% of all jobs, while it’s 9% in Alabama. In any case, a large number of health care jobs have comparatively low wages. For example, here are median hourly wages for some health care jobs (median is the midpoint; 50% earn more and 50% earn less; a better figure than the… Read more »
Jason Wells
3 years 9 days ago
I often wonder about the about the usefulness of the average hourly wage stats. The average as listed above is 21.00 or 16.61 using the median figure. This just does not seem to jive with what I see on a daily basis. The vast majority of people I know would love to be making 16 an hr let alone 20. Could this be a case of a few making very very good income and thereby raising the averages across the board? From what I can see it looks like the top five occupations in VT excepting the education/training group are… Read more »
Doug Hoffer
3 years 8 days ago

As you noted, averages are often skewed by a relatively small number of high wage folks (the old bit about what happens to the average wage when Bill Gates walks into the room).

On the other hand, the median is much more useful as it is the midpoint with 50% earning more and 50% earning less.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that a lot of people you “know would love to be making 16 an hr.” Indeed, 50% of all working Vermonters are making less. At the same time, 50% are making more.

Keith Stern
3 years 9 days ago

Also because of a small workforce those making high six figures will largely affect the results.
Also those in education, primarily secondary education will also change the results.

Doug Hoffer
3 years 8 days ago

As I mentioned to Mr. Wells, the high-end outliers most definitely affect the average but have no impact on the median, which is why I prefer it.

Keith Stern
3 years 8 days ago

That is a better way of looking at the statistics.

Duncan Kilmartin
3 years 9 days ago
Hi Fred, I wouldn’t be so quick to credit Doug with clarification. Several observations are important in evaluating the statistics which Doug references and which I referenced. First, there is a difference between “household income” and “average weekly wages”. Vermonters below the upper 5% are much more interested in the most recent averages, than 3 year rolling statistics, or skewed by Vermont having one of the lowest five birthrates and size of family households in the U.S. Second, there is a difference between “mean/average” income and “mean”. For average weekly wages, the average is much more important for public policy… Read more »
Doug Hoffer
3 years 8 days ago
Mr. Kilmartin I provided links to official data for a number of critical income measures; you provided one. Mine included median hourly wage, average hourly wage, two sources for median household income, and one for median family income. In addition, I provided data and links related to poverty and food insecurity. Together, the data presented a clear and indisputable picture of the differences between the two states. You can certainly try to make hay out of the average weekly wage data but it cannot overcome the weight of the evidence. BTW – Here’s one more. Vermont’s 2012 per capita income… Read more »
Keith Stern
3 years 8 days ago

Can you also find the cost of living comparison between the 2 states? That is significant when making the comparison.

3 years 8 days ago
Doug, Doug, You appear to have some familiarity with annual incomes of households and hourly wages of workers. It would be better to compare not averages, but deciles, i.e., what is the annual household income of the bottom decile in Vermont vs. New Hampshire and Maine? These three states are somewhat similar. It is irrational to compare Vermont vs. Alabama, as they are completely different states. Then do it for the next 9 nine deciles to get some idea of household income distribution. One could show each percent of the top decile, to show the disparity of household incomes near… Read more »
Keith Stern
3 years 8 days ago

Also discretionary income. That is comparing apples to apples. In the Boston area income is very high but so is the cost of living so one may not net any more than someone in Springfield who earns less but ends up keeping more.

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