Green Reality: Ripping Off the Poor to Subsidize the Rich

May 17, 2019

by Rob Roper

VPR is doing a terrific series on state programs titled, Did It Work?, going back to see whether or not the promises put forth by government programs actually delivered. So far, they have examined three such programs, none of which met expectations. I wish I could say I was surprised.

One story focused on electric vehicle rebates done through the Burlington Electric Department (BED). The idea wa

s to put more low to moderate income people into EVs and hybrids by offering an $1800 subsidy with a lesser subsidy offered to higher income Vermonters. It’s important to note that BED was doing this in order to comply with a government mandate related to renewable energy targets. It wasn’t a cust

omer driven business decision (except for the fact that in a state command and control economy the state, not the end user, is the customer).

In the end, three lower income people ended up getting the rebate ($5400), as opposed to seventy-seven higher income people who got rebates totaling nearly $80,000. Green Mountain Power (GMP) is running a larger version of the same idea and, according to VPR, 400 people claime

d the rebate, just ten percent of whom are low/moderate income.

So, did it work? Like the overwhelming majority of government programs, no, it didn’t. What it the program is succeeding in doing is transferring wealth from low-moderate ratepayers to wealthy Vermonters. Thanks to rep

orter Henry Epp for quoting me in his article, “for the state to come along and say, ‘I’m going to tax you, Peter to put Paul in a Tesla,’ that does not seem like a just use of government power or a fair use of taxpayer funds.” It’s not under any circumstances, but especially so when Peter is poor and Paul is rich.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Empey May 17, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Well the only silver lining here is at least there is a metric to look at most of the time the state and its various bureaucracies make rules and laws based on unmeasured or unmeasurable perceptions (aka No Data) and then never measure the data after they implement their new rules (aka usually new tax or fee) to see if it worked. Then again if Rob is the only one looking at the data and outcome maybe the state and the bureaucracy haven’t and things remain unchanged.

Sort of like the cockamamy pay you to come live here program which has questionable results and will require a new bureaucrat be hired to administer and follow up on the results.


mike May 18, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Just another dumb program using tax payers hard earned dollars to accomplish nothinng. Besides, I wouldn’t live one day in Vermont without 4 wheel drive. Again, who pays for the cost of installing charging stations and who pays for the cost of charging???? The tax payers certainly will not be told.


Dan Cunningham May 18, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for pointing out that VPR is doing this Rob. I’ve always wondered if anyone loops back and looks at how something worked 10 years later.


Milton Eaton May 19, 2019 at 7:41 pm

When the Gov Scott spoke to the Brattieboro Chamber luncheon he noted the total number of hybrid/electric cars in Vermont is1000. I was shocked (living in Windham County) the number was so low after the barrage of propaganda and support policies.
I briefly told him my opinion of the current state goals and asked how much it has cost Vermont and/or the Federal Government for mandates, preference, subsidies and foregone income since this mirage has become a religion. He admitted that he had no idea the costs incurred.
Maybe the state would solve its budget gap if it stopped these useless programs until an economical silver bullet is discovered.
Until then, we need to use every source of low cost, dependable energy to raise the standard of living and reduce its cost.


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