by Rob Roper
Senator Bernie Sanders is outraged that Vermonters, particularly those in the Burlington area, are paying more per gallon of gasoline than others in the region. According to a press release on Sanders’ website, the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular in Vermont today is $3.53 (the tenth highest in the lower 48 states overall), but the average for the greater Burlington area was $3.60.
Why? Is something funny going on? It’s a reasonable question.
Again, quoting the press release, “Sanders pointed to evidence that in recent days Burlington gas prices were 15 cents to 29 cents greater than prices charged by gas stations only about 35 miles away in other Vermont towns…. ‘People who own service stations have a right to make a profit,” Sanders said. “They don’t have a right to rip people off,’ he added.”
So, let’s do some math. If we apply the Bernie Standard, someone who is being forced to pay roughly 4% to 8% more for an energy source than that source is worth on the open market, that person is being ripped off. Gouged. Screwed. And, of course, there will have to be an investigation and somebody will have to be punished.
Well, it’s worth pointing out that the Vermont state gas tax is 19 cents per gallon. That’s all profit to the state, and well within the Bernie rip off zone. The federal tax is 18.4 cents. Gouging?
But, perhaps more egregiously, under Vermont Law, Vermonters are being forced to pay 400% to 600% more than market rates for some electricity. In 2010, our legislature passed Act 45, which guaranteed small wind and solar producers 20 cents and 30 cents respectively per kilowatt hour of electricity produced, despite the fact that on the open Market Vermont Yankee and Hydro-Quebec were charging between 4.5 and 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
In 2012 the legislature was at it again with the house voting 91-46 (H.468) to create Renewable Portfolio Standard, which would have, according to National Federation of Independent Businesses/Vermont, “…would commit Vermont to a twenty-year policy that would lock us into even higher electric rates with only a very modest impact on greenhouse gas emissions, which on balance is not in the best interest of Vermont companies and working Vermonters and their families.”
Seems to me, under the Bernie Standard, Vermonters are getting “ripped off” by our own representatives, and we will continue to be ripped off for decades to come, as the law locks in this “reasonable profit” for producers. Where is Senator Sanders’ outrage here? Where is the call for an investigation to bring these greedy thugs to justice?
Nobody wants to pay more for something than it’s worth, and if gas stations in the Burlington area are putting a thumb on the scales to their customers’ disadvantage, people have every right to be outraged. But, if you’re outraged by that, you really ought to be outraged by what the folks in Montpelier are doing. They’re ripping us off as well.