Business is Great! (So Long As You Subsidize Us)

by Rob Roper

The Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee held a joint meeting with the Economic Development committee to hear testimony on S.51, which would codify into law the State’s goal of getting 90% of our energy from renewable energy from renewable sources by 2050. (The “Let’s Destroy the Economy Bill.”) Those testifying appeared to have been selected to bolster the claim that renewable energy is a real economic driver in Vermont. For those paying attention, it is pretty clear the opposite is true – it’s an unsustainable drain on state resources.

The story of 23 year old All Earth Renewables employee, Payne Morgan, told of the great opportunities he has to work, pay off his student loans, pursue a masters degree he enjoys as a result of Vermont’s commitment to renewable energy. However, he warns, that the uncertainty surrounding government mandates and subsides is a real threat to AER’s future in Vermont as well as his own.

His testimony confirms (perhaps without his realizing it) that the viability of All Earth Renewables is entirely dependent upon government support, both in terms of regulation, government mandates, and subsidization. He described the sad time when a net-metering subsidy went away he had to watch friends get laid off, and worries that further such actions will lead to his demise as well.

This is not a healthy economic situation. Successful businesses pay money into the system via taxes that are used to support necessary government services. Organizations that require government money and action on their behalf in order to survive – because in a free market nobody is interested in voluntarily paying for what they are peddling — are a drag on the economy, and an inefficient use of scarce resources.

Other business owners (Weatherization, solar installation, etc.) testified similarly. Business is good! We’re hiring new people! But if you cut off the money spigot and stop mandating that people buy our products, we’re screwed. And, that’s why they were there in support of S.51 – to make sure the spigot not only stays on, but is opened wider.

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne Norris February 10, 2017 at 7:06 pm

I see many similarities with S.51 and the way Vermont government thinks more and more over the last few years. The state does great when the Feds give us cash to run the state.. those in the golden bubble are worried now that the Feds will be giving us less cash in comming years! So we don’t have to fix the problems here in Vt that we have as long as our pie in the sky ideas are covered by the Feds! Sounds like a losing proposition for this state!! Lets fix the bad policies that are making our state so unaffordable for most vermonters, and have them leaving in droves!! Although we are a smaller state, Texas should be our role model, Not California!!

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H. Brooke Paige February 11, 2017 at 5:09 am

No one talks about the long term drag that having ratepayers forced to pay above market rates for the high priced “renewable” energy that the power companies are compelled to “buy” from wind and solar producers including power from individual small producers “selling” their power into the grid via their smart meters, As more of these producers come on line Vermonter’s electric bills will skyrocket and businesses that rely heavily on electric in their business will flee to other states with more affordable power.

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Chuck Johnson February 11, 2017 at 8:08 pm

To sustain the solar industry, S.21 has provisions to study to require solar panels on rooftops of “large” commercial buildings. “Large” buildings, by the S.21 definition start at 4000 square feet. Yes, 4000 square feet. To further entrench “green” energy, S.51codifies Shumlin’s renewable goals of 90% in 2050- and total energy use to 66% of 2015 use. Not just electricity, but ALL energy used in VT in 2050 will be only 2/3 of the total used in 2015. I really question if some under the “golden dome” know what they sponsor and vote on. Governor Scott needs a lot of ink for his veto pen.

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Richard Saganich February 12, 2017 at 7:32 pm

21 million dollars per year. That’s how much the net-metering program alone is expected to cost VT ratepayers, according to the Public Service Board in their Jan 20, 2017 “Report to the Vermont General Assembly on the Net-Metering Program Pursuant to Act 99 of 2014″ (posted on the PSB website). This amount is above and beyond more competitively priced renewable energy projects, which are still more expensive than conventional energy sources. In my opinion, VT renewable energy policies are straight from La La Land. Although I doubt that he will do so, one action Governor Scott could take now to signal the need for more reality-based RE policies is to replace Shumlin-appointee James Volz, whose 6-year term as PSB Chairman expires at the end of this month. Show some guts, Mr. Scott.

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jim bulmer February 16, 2017 at 2:33 pm

It’s the same old, same old. Pie in the sky ideas work wonderfuly as long as somebody elses money (tax payers dollars) supports the projects. How about we let the market determine if a project is viable? Most likely they would rapidly fall by the wayside if they became stand alone.

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