Wind Power Outfits Reduced to Bribing Vermont Locals to Win Support

Under-the-table transactions...

In the wind industry it’s called cultivating support…

***

Hated wherever it plies its filthy, subsidy-soaked trade, the wind industry is renowned world-wide for ‘greasing’ political palms, in order to garner the influence needed to obtain dodgy, rubber-stamped planning applications and to maintain massive subsidy streams until kingdom come.

With rural communities alive to the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time – and universally furious about the manner in which the wind industry’s goons treat them with utter contempt, wind power outfits have, more than once, had to resort to outright bribery in their attempt to ‘win hearts and minds’.

The irony is, of course, that wind developers offering cash for votes are simply engaging in enviro-friendly ‘recycling’ – handing back a fraction of the massive subsidies filched from taxpayers and/or power consumers in order to buy the votes they need to get another subsidy-soaked project up and running: the wind industry’s ‘circle of life’.

Here’s the New York Times on a Spanish wind power outfit’s desperate ‘PR-cash-splash’ in Vermont.

Vermont Wind Project Needs Support, So Company Offers to Pay Voters
New York Times
Katharine Q Seelyeoct
12 October 2016

WINDHAM, Vermont — To many residents in this tiny town in southern Vermont, the last-minute offer of cash was a blatant attempt to buy their votes.

To the developer that offered the money, it was simply a sign of how attentively the company had been listening to voters’ concerns.

The company, Iberdrola Renewables, a Spanish energy developer, wants to build Vermont’s largest wind project on a private forest tract that spans Windham and the adjacent town of Grafton. The project would consist of 24 turbines, each nearly 500 feet tall, and generate 82.8 megawatts of power, enough to light 42,000 homes for a year if the wind kept blowing, though the houses could be in Connecticut or Massachusetts.

Residents of the two towns will vote Nov. 8 on whether to approve the project, which has pitted neighbor against neighbor. No one knows which way the vote will go.

That same day, residents statewide will be voting for governor. Wind development has become an issue in that race, which The Cook Political Report rates a tossup, and sentiment here could be decisive in the outcome.

Facing the possibility that voters here may reject the proposal, putting a damper on large-scale wind development in Vermont, Iberdrola last week put cash on the table for individual voters.

Many residents called the offer an attempt at undue influence, if not an outright bribe. But after a review, the state attorney general’s office said that the offer did not appear to violate state law.

Still, the individual payments — a total of $565,000 a year to 815 registered voters in both towns, or $14.1 million over 25 years — on top of millions more to the towns, suggest how much is at stake for the company. Iberdrola has been trying to persuade voters here for more than four years to approve the project, in a state that is actively seeking clean-energy development.

Vermont’s energy goals are among the most ambitious in the country: to derive 90 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election after nearly six years in office, has been the state’s chief proponent of clean energy.

“There’s nothing I’m more proud of than my legacy of having helped to get Vermont off of oil and coal and moved us more aggressively than any other state in the nation to renewables,” he said. The state has 20 times as much wind power as it had when he took office and 11 times the number of solar panels.

Yet the push toward renewables has been a tough sell in some quarters despite Vermont’s reputation as a progressive, environmentally conscious state — or perhaps because of it.

Critics of commercial wind power consider themselves every bit as environmentally conscious as the governor. They say he is doing more harm than good by promoting developments on the state’s ridgelines, among Vermont’s most important assets, where turbines, roadways and infrastructure are destroying habitats, increasing flood risks and scarring the landscape much the way mountaintop mining has scarred West Virginia. They also complain about noise, lower property values and blighted views.

Critics are appalled that Mr. Shumlin is backing another Iberdrola project, a 15-turbine development under construction on two ridgelines in the Green Mountain National Forest that would be the first commercial wind project in a national forest.

All of this development, they say, is doing little to stave off climate change.

“These handful of turbines won’t do anything to offset the documented scampering increase in the mining and use of coal in India and China,” said Frank Seawright, the chairman of the Windham Selectboard and an opponent of the project.

Mr. Shumlin counters by saying that climate change is easily the most important issue facing the planet and that everyone has a responsibility to curb it. While he says he would never favor turbines on Vermont’s most iconic mountains, naming Mansfield and Camel’s Hump, he adds that they have to go on ridgelines because that is where the wind is.

The state’s environmental groups are with him. Paul Burns, the executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, said that a vote against the wind project here “would demonstrate an unwillingness to be part of a solution to what is recognized as an incredibly serious problem.”

Vermont’s battle over wind has been brewing for years, and is playing a role in the race to succeed Mr. Shumlin. Phil Scott, the Republican nominee, who opposes further industrial wind development, faces Sue Minter, the Democratic nominee, who is backed by the wind industry and favors it. The issue was a factor in her winning the Democratic nomination.

Statewide support for wind turbines has been relatively high, but appears to have ebbed in recent years, according to polling by Castleton University, dropping to 56 percent this year from 69 percent in 2013.

Windham and Grafton generally vote Democratic, but most lawn signs here proclaim support for Mr. Scott and are paired with signs against the wind turbines.

“A lot of Democrats in this room will be voting for a Republican governor for the first time,” Sally Hoover, 72, a retired accountant in Windham, said last week as Iberdrola hosted a meeting, where residents first learned of the cash offer.

At the meeting, which drew more than 100 residents, the developer shared its new plan. It reduced the number of turbines to 24 from 28 and increased the money paid to Windham to $1 million from $715,000 a year for the 25 years. The payments would cut property taxes in half and provide $150,000 a year for charities, fire departments and educational scholarships.

The company said it would also set aside $350,000 each year for direct payments to Windham’s 311 registered voters — $1,125 apiece annually, or $28,135 over 25 years, which a voter could accept or not.

In Grafton, the company set aside $215,000 for voter payments. The town’s 504 registered voters would each receive $427 a year, or $10,665 over 25 years. (Windham would have 16 turbines and Grafton eight.)

Asked if the company was trying to buy votes, a spokesman, Paul Copleman, said that Iberdrola was merely responding to what residents had said they would need to win approval, and that the developer would abide by the result.

In an email later, he added, “Our current proposal is based on feedback from community members who are frustrated that the tax relief from the project would give a larger break to those with more expensive properties.”

Kathy Scott, 74, a retired bookkeeper and one of the Windham residents who negotiated the package, said residents, not the company, came up with the idea of payments.

She said her group saw them as a way to “level the playing field” with second-home owners, many of whose homes have high assessments and who would benefit more from the tax cuts. (Although second-home owners pay 60 percent of the town’s taxes, they cannot vote here, a sore point for them.)

Opponents were outraged at the payments, perceiving them as an attempt to buy votes, and complained to state officials.

But Michael O. Duane, senior assistant attorney general, said the payments did not violate state law. The proposal “doesn’t say that the funds go only to those people who signed a sworn statement that they had voted for it,” he said.

Still, the payment proposal has left a sour taste. As The Rutland Herald put it in an editorial on Sunday, “The naked offer of money to individual citizens may be even more corrosive to the civic life of the town than the potential environmental effects of the wind turbines.”
New York Times

no-wind-turbines-vermont

Another view: What is the cost of renewable energy?
Brattleboro Reformer
Dan Carluccio
18 October 2016

At what cost do we draw the line on obtaining renewable energy? Are traditional fossil fuels so alarming and so terrifying that we push the installations of renewable energy wind farms and solar fields at any cost?

If allowed, the Stiles Brook project will be the largest wind farm in Vermont, covering 5,000 acres of pristine Vermont ridgeline forest in both Windham and Grafton.

The 5,000 acres, which are being carved out of the ridgeline forest, are owned by an out-of-state New Hampshire company called Meadowshend Timberlands, which will lease the land to a foreign owned company, Iberdrola, a Spanish-Arab held billion dollar corporation that has been siphoning big dollars out of government green energy bills for years; government money that always seems to find its way to the already super rich, big money corporations, or companies warily connected to our politicians by way of highly compensated lobbyists.

Oddly, and an important footnote in this mix, is the fact that Meadowshend Timberlands is a forestry company whose mission statement on its website is nothing short of a testimonial to land conservation and preservation.

This seems to be clearly in opposition to what will actually happen to those 5,000 acres, and it creates a question and concern in my understanding the motivation driving Meadowshend Timberland’s decision to lease land to Iberdrola. It’s clear that the usage of the land goes against everything Meadowshend Timberlands seems to stand for, calling themselves the “stewards of the land.”

The mission of Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd. is to own and maintain a significant inventory of productive forest land which, over time, will be capable of supplying a consistent and predictable amount of high quality and high value forest products without having a detrimental effect on the forest community.

According to its website, its mission is “To demonstrate leadership in sustainably managing a healthy and profitable diversified land base of quality working forestland for future generations of a small, family owned business. Uphold the concepts of environmental conservation by keeping this land open-green-space. Enhancement of sustainable timber resource in both quality and quantity. Be responsible stewards of the land while continually raising our standards. Provide and enhance a diverse variety of habitats for wildlife. Maintain a healthy, productive and aesthetically pleasing forest. Maintain or enhance the water quality of streams and wetland systems. Maintain the stability and integrity of the entire ecosystem within our control. Consider all the known and understood elements of natural forest ecosystem during management decisions.”

Digging further into this project we also find several hundred homes located in the shadows of the proposed project, located in the mountains and valleys that will surround the 5,000 acres, many within a couple of thousand feet of the 28 500-foot-high turbines, some even closer.

The villages of Windham and Grafton are the two main settlements to take the brunt of this power punch but there are other communities close to the borders, which will also be impacted. The turbine installations will not only crush the mountain ridges but cause upheaval to the already delicate high elevation mountainsides, which are already straining to hold back water flow from flooding our villages.

Completely unrelated and disassociated with the townspeople in these villages both Iberdrola and Meadowshend Timberlands have no compassion for the impact created by this giant construction project.

I ask what is the driving force for the devastation of 5,000 acres and the cost of renewable energy?

Keep in mind that Iberdrola is nothing more than a general contractor doing a job to make money by using new state and federal laws to line their pockets.

The state needs to conform to these new guidelines so they welcome these renewable energy projects with open arms whether right or wrong, and regardless of the environmental impact.

People who will not live near the turbines also don’t really care, especially those who do not understand how fragile our forests are, what the forests, rivers and streams already do to our sustainability, the support system the forest provides to plants and animals. The ecosystem that has been there for hundreds of years sustaining us will be gone and forever, changed by the cost of green energy.

So at what cost does green energy come to Southern Vermont? It seems to me that it comes to Vermont “at any cost” as it’s all about the money, the “green energy” money, with Iberdrola being the “bank of green energy money.” There is no concern for the land, no concern for the impact of the high elevation ridges, the animals and plants, and no concern for the people living near these new proposed wind farms.

Seems Iberdrola has enough money to pay a company that before they met Iberdrola considered themselves the stewards of the land. Iberdrola can afford to pay lobbyists in Montpelier to keep the pressure on elected officials that are supposed to be our representatives. Now Iberdrola is literally trying to pay off the village people in Windham and Grafton to buy their votes.

So, what is the cost of Renewable Green Energy? Well, in Windham and Grafton it doesn’t seem to matter, seems cost is no object. It’s just all about the money.
Brattleboro Reformer

Money Wasted

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Hi,

    I started a PETITION “SA PREMIER JAY WEATHERILL : Demand the RESIGNATION of the Energy Minister for HIGH POWER PRICES CAUSING SA’s JOBS CRISIS and 15,000 household POWER DISCONNECTIONS, frequent POWER BLACKOUTS and the JULY 2016 POWER CRISIS” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

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    Please share this petition with anyone you think may be interested in signing it.

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  2. Terry Conn says:

    Today I read in The Australian newspaper an article quoting a ‘community psychologist ‘ that encouraged parents to seek and/or provide counselling to their children aged 3 years and over that they need not fear Donald Trump – that he won’t be in their bedrooms at night to scare the living daylights out of them or ‘be mean’ to them – well just imagine the counselling the wind farm developers and its supporters in Vermont are now going to need because Trump has been elected as President of their nation – especially since about the only ‘clear’ policy he took to the American people is to end the wind farm rort. The really ‘scary’ thing for all these wind farm developers and their fantasist supporters is that Trump has got it right and the real world is catching on in a big rush. Now, to get the message through to Frydenberg and Turnbull and a million other boofheads in government in this country.

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