Pay no Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain.

One of the most telling scenes in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” is when everyone’s attention is being focused on a terrifying image of an all powerful wizard.  While people were distracted by what turned out to be a fraud, Dorothy’s dog Toto pulled back a curtain to reveal a small and frightened man who was the real “Wizard of Oz”.  Of course this was only a scene from a movie, but it provides an insight in how our political system sometimes works.  The real story of what is going on is often hided behind a curtain from a public focused on an illusionary image.

Such appears to be the case when it comes to our energy policy here in Vermont.  Our political leaders are trying to drive out a low cost producers of constant power in favor on sources that likely would end up more costly and produce less constant power.  This is done in the name of preserving the environment.  The biggest example is the push to support wind power on the part of the Shumlin Administration, as brought to light by this Bennington Banner article:

“Gov. Peter Shumlin endorsed a large-scale wind power project planned for northern Vermont’s Lowell Mountain on Friday, saying the state had agreed on land swaps and bear corridors with the utility developing the project.”

As the article points out, this is a significant switch in policy:

“The move marked a 180-degree change in policy from the previous administration of Gov. Jim Douglas, who opposed large-scale wind power projects on Vermont mountain ridges.”

Wind power is highly intrusive from an environmental perspective as it takes a lot of wind towers to produce any significant amount of power.  This move toward wind power cannot be justified from either an efficiency, or an environmental perspective.  What is generating this push then?  The article suggests that another motivation may be present:

“Shumlin, a Democrat, insisted the change had nothing to do with the fact that the utility, Green Mountain Power Corp., has close ties with the administration — its CEO, Mary Powell chaired his inaugural committee. He noted that he had campaigned on a platform of supporting an expansion of renewable power sources in Vermont.”

Here is possibly another case of our being told to “pay not attention to that man behind the curtain”, when it is suggested that paying back political supporters may be a driving force behind this.  The fact that he campaigned on “a platform of supporting an expansion of renewable power sources in Vermont” makes it no less questionable.  As far back as 2006, John McClaughry wrote of the political influence of “Big Wind” and its ties to VPIRG.  McClaughry was joined in issuing this waring by the Barton Chronicle.  In a 2008 commentary, McClaughry examined how Shumlin has acted to enact new taxes in support of VPIRG’s agenda even when the prior campaign was all about addressing the rising cost of education.  Here is a 2009 commentary by Rob Roper where he examines the quid pro quo received by David Blittersdorf, and his connections to wind interests and VPIRG.  Mr. Blittersdorf and his wife are MAJOR donors to both Governor Shumlin and the Vermont Democratic Party.

There is evidence out there that Governor Shumlin has been vigorously supported by big wind interest well before the campaign even got under way.  Given this, is it not reasonable to at least suspect that some of his his political decisions may be a way of paying back such support?