McClaughry: The Blittersdorf Special

By John McClaughry

Remember the Champlain Flyer? That was Howard Dean’s commuter train that ran 13 miles from Charlotte to Burlington. After three years’ operation and spending $27 million, the little used Flyer was mothballed.

Wikimedia Commons/Solarapex

The Burlington Union Station platform. This was used for the Champlain Flyer between 2000 and 2003.

But now eco-entrepreneur and subsidized wind power mogul David Blittersdorf has a brilliant new idea: Run a subsidized commuter train from Barre to Montpelier, a distance of seven miles. Blittersdorf just happens to own five refurbished Budd rail cars himself.

Blittersdorf told VT Digger May 26: “We are fixing up these Budd cars at the old Bombardier plant, and trying to get the state to use them. We’re getting a little resistance. They’re going to get on the rail line somehow.”

Blittersdorf’s allies slipped a provision in the transportation bill conference to have VTrans study his project including “greenhouse gas reduction/increase of operating diesel-powered railroad cars, compared to alternatives.” There are already bus lines serving Montpelier, Barre and Berlin, but Blittersdorf doesn’t own any buses, just rail cars.

It’s against the rules of the legislature to add new provisions to a bill coming out of conference, but apparently no one caught on and raised a point of order.

This latest scam illustrates once again the enthusiasm of certain entrepreneurs to sniff out, or help create, ever more subsidized programs to fight the menace of climate change, then make money from them, until they fail, as the Blittersdorf flyer surely will.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Solarapex

12 thoughts on “McClaughry: The Blittersdorf Special

  1. In Paris, France the metro system is entirely automatic.
    There are no operators or conductors on the trains.
    The trains can go in both directions
    No need to turn them around.
    It costs about one euro to go on Metro line 1 from the east of Paris, Vincennes, to the west of Paris, about 8 miles.
    That train runs every 10 minutes from very early in the morning to late at night.
    All stops and starts are computer controlled.
    The trains are NEVER late or early
    They stop within an inch of their designated stop.
    That automatic system has been in place for about 20 years.

  2. Blittersdorf and his laughing-matter, 50-year-old jalopies, that will rip off Vermonters.
    If foreign tourists see them they would certainly have something to talk about.

    Here are the data of another rip off regarding the Blittersdorf-owned Georgia Mountain wind plant. The plant is located on a windy ridgeline in Vermont. That is not the case with many other wind plants in New England. As a result the New England capacity factor is much less than Georgia Mountain.

    In 2018 the New England CF was about 3.367 TWh/{(1300 MW, onshore + 30 MW, offshore) x 8766} = 0.288.

    Here are the data for Georgia Mountain, per EIA, if you know where to look. See table.

    Blittersdorf sells all of his production to the Burlington Electric Department at 10 c/kWh for 20 years, a sweetheart deal.

    BED could have bought STEADY electricity (not variable, not intermittent) from the grid at 5 c/kWh!!

    As a result BED ratepayers have been screwed out of $7,624,050 for just the past 5 years, with 3 times that amount to follow.

    Blittersdorf wants to ride the same subsidized gravy train with his 50-y-old jalopies he bought for practically nothing at a tag sale. Vermont rosy-eyed RE bureaucrats and legislators likely will accommodate him with lots of freebie subsidies so he cannot lose, but everyone else will for sure.

    Georgia Mountain Production Revenue Grid cost Excess
    MW h/y CF MWh $ $ $
    10 8766 0.348 30490 3049000 1524500
    10 8766 0.353 30937 3093700 1546850
    10 8766 0.378 33148 3314800 1657400
    10 8766 0.371 32511 3251100 1625550
    10 8766 0.29 25395 2539500 1269750
    15248100 7624050 7624050

  3. No wonder so many people doubt climate change evangelicals. Wealthy connected politicos and their political puppets invent renewable energy scams that “earn” millions of dollars on the backs of taxpayers and subsidies again and again with failed schemes employing bullcrap alternative energy “solutions”. Vermont is so very corrupt in Montpelier. Sad.

  4. You guys above had said it all. If,and that’s a very BIG if, there is need for mass transit between Barre and far away Montpelier, hey, Bittersforf, hate to disappoint you, but there’s this big thing call a BUS. Far cheaper and more flexible in routing.

  5. There’s no way in hell you can run a diesel train cheaper over 7 miles then a diesel bus or even buses if need for the number of riders. I haven’t heard of what those numbers are. Like the Dizzy Dean Flyer
    the numbers thought were far far under what actually rode it. If the brain dead fascist leftards buy into
    this scam it’s time to vote by noose….

  6. The guy has endless scams on the taxpayers dollar. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    He got out of solar just in time to see that collapse, now he wants antique diesel trains to run empty, BESIDE the busses on the same path running half empty- buses already plenty of room for more, AND
    ability to stop wherever anyone wants.

    Never Ends!!!

  7. Crony capitalism is the worst, absolute worst, it’s a first cousin to socialism. Nobody believes Vermont earned a D- in ethics, yet here’s yet another example. On top of that aren’t we doing ANOTHER study on this? We’ve got a huge corruption problem in our state with the mismanagement of tax payer money, sadly this is small, small example.

  8. This guy is a beaut. Only makes money on talking ignorant legislators into his next scam. I guess that is the free market.

  9. John, Great commentary. Sad, Sad topic. Was Mr. Blittersdorf even around when Governor Dean did the Champlain Flyer? Let’s use the proposed subsidy money and clean up Lake Champlain.

  10. Here we go again, another boondoggle that will end up costing the tax-payers in the
    long run……………. Well, it will be a short run again.

    How about spending money on our roads ???

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