by Robert Maynard
You know someone is drunk on power when they have the audacity to sue someone for the use of their own land. That is exactly what David Blittersdorf is trying to do according to the Vermont Digger:
On Friday, Georgia Mountain Community Wind LLC. (GMCW), a company whose majority owner is David Blittersdorf, filed a series of legal actions against project neighbors. The company requested from the Vermont Superior Court and received a temporary restraining order against neighbors. The Court granted the order without holding a hearing. In a second action, Blittersdorf’s attorneys filed a lawsuit alleging that the neighbors’ presence on portions of their own property that are within the project’s claimed 1,000 foot blast safety zone are a nuisance and interfere with the project’s existing contracts. Construction on the four-turbine project began in May.
Such gall took one of the land owners in question completely by surprise: “We are blown away. How can someone remove us from our own property, without even a hearing? It isn’t our fault they don’t have enough space to blast into the mountain for this supposed green energy project. So much for the ‘community’ in Georgia Mountain Community Wind,” said Heidi FitzGerald, daughter of adjoining landowner Jane FitzGerald, one of the parties sued by GMCW.
One commentator in another discussion blog raised the question of how a project could even get approval if the project owners did not have enough land to make the project work. It also appears the Blittersdorf has made no effort to work out a suitable solution with the landowners:
At no time has anyone from GMCW or David Blittersdorf himself come to us and said they wanted to work with us on these issues. Instead they have resorted to using their expensive lawyers to take our land completely without compensation. There is a process for this at the PSB, but Blittersdorf has chosen to be a bully rather doing the right thing. Perhaps it is because the PSB process requires appropriate compensation to neighbors? Who knows, but this happened in Lowell, and now here. Why are we letting these developers use land that isn’t theirs, sue their neighbors, and run off with massive profits from subsidies provided by tax payers?” said Jane FitzGerald, one of the landowners named in Blittersdorf’s suit.
This is the kind of arrogance that comes from being one of the major donors to the party in complete control of the state. In addition to all the cash that Blittersdorf has funneled to the Democratic Party, he is a major player behind VPIRG, which is arguably one of the state’s most powerful lobbying organizations. This is not the first time that his political clout has helped to line his pockets:
First, let’s look at that $8000 to Shumlin. The legal donation limit per individual is $2000 per cycle ($1000 for the primary and $1000 for the general election). Bilttersdorf was able to quadruple his influence by funneling donations to Shumlin through three of his corporations. This is not illegal and not unique, but it does illustrate how campaign finance laws with the advertised intent of limiting the influence of the wealthy actually give the wealthy an unfair advantage.
This $8000 is not the only “investment” David Blittersdorf has made, and the $4.3 million in tax credits has not been his only pay day. Since 2003, David Blittersdorf and his wife Jan have given nearly $100,000 in direct donations to the Vermont Democratic Party, including $20,000 this 2009-2010 election cycle. In addition, Blittersdorf made in April, 2010, a stunning $35,200 donation to Vermont Senate 2010.
This seems extremely generous. But it’s a small fraction of what he gained when in 2009 the Democratic veto-proof majorities in the Vermont House and Senate passed H.446, which guarantees through subsidies companies like Blittersdorf’s well above market rates for the power they generate. (“For a plant using wind power … $0.20 per kWh… For a plant using solar power, $0.30 per kWh.”) These rates are between four and six times what Vermont Yankee and Hydro Quebec charge, and are locked in for ten to twenty-five years.
The real issue here is that Blittersdorf is part of a bigger problem, as was alluded to by the Vermont Digger article:
“Apparently this is the new rule of law in Vermont. As long as you say you are building a renewable energy project you are allowed to do whatever you want. Why aren’t we requiring developers to have enough land to build these projects so they do not trespass on neighboring properties? Who is looking out for the neighbors? It is obvious that the PSB’s and the Shumlin Administration’s support for large wind projects gives developers a sense of entitlement that leads to abusive actions,” said Energize Vermont Executive Director Lukas Snelling.
Ethan Allen Institute founder John McClaughry has referred to the driving force behind this bigger problem of corporate cronyism Vermont style as the “Renewable Industrial Complex“:
Shumlin, Blittersdorf, VPIRG and their allies have promoted a remarkable combination of junk science, polar bear hysteria, nuclear phobia, business mandates, hidden taxes, price fixing, corporate welfare, government debt, and subsidy handouts to benefit – well, mainly themselves.
If you wonder why Vermont is so often viewed as a state afflicted with all sorts of government interventions to promote politically correct liberal enthusiasms and thus unfriendly to the workings of a normal market economy – look no further.