Net Metering Is Regressive

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Renewable energy technologies are not renewable but disposable. They do not save the planet but accelerate its destruction by gobbling up huge quantities of natural resources and fossil fuels in their manufacturing, creating mountains of waste and toxic runoff that destroys soils, water, air and human communities.

Moreover, these climate-destroying products are being paid for by low-income Vermonters who are the least able to afford them, and are instead “affording” them to wealthier people.

Taking money from the poor to fund the rich is not “progressive” but “regressive” — it is a form of reverse-Robin-Hood wealth theft, siphoning off retirees’ bank accounts at the gas pump, oil tank filling, and electric rate payments, like an endless Chinese water torture of dripping thievery. This whole scheme has been championed by the so-called Vermont Progressives to impoverish Vermonters in the name of “saving” them.

The jig is up, and Vermonters are not dancing. The state Legislature and regulators not only must end this scam, but be held accountable for inflicting it on those they have been entrusted to serve. As I wrote in a commentary here over two-and-a-half years ago titled “Weaving Nets for the Poor”:

“Vermont is guinea pig for progressive experimentation on wealth redistribution masked as ‘climate action.’ … This wealth transfer impacts poor and elderly ratepayers, who are forced to subsidize those with the resources to install expensive — and profitable — solar arrays. … Poor ratepayers are undermined in their ability to install comparable systems because their wealth is depleted by inflated fee structures. … These special-interest, government-imposed schemes transfer wealth and gentrify Vermont while hurting economic growth.”

Last year I repeated these truths, noting that costs are passed through to ratepayers, many of whom cannot afford or do not support solar power. It is also unethical and unconstitutional since there is no due process by which ratepayers can appeal this extrication of wealth.

My article also reported a DPUC finding that “the additional cost of net-metering means that each 20 MW of new capacity creates a cost shift of $47.4 million to non-participating customers over 25 years.” Also the Department of Public Service made a determination that “net-metering systems installed through 2018 are costing customers an additional $37 million annually, or $60 per residential customer.”

The Department contends that this cost shift falls heaviest on lower-income Vermonters who cannot afford the up-front costs of purchasing a net-metering system.

Yet electricity ratepayers have continued to pay these costs uninterrupted, as the slow-dripping theft continued. This much change. Washington Electric Co-op is a well-run nonprofit held hostage to these statutory and regulatory abuses. In announcing recent rate increases, its Board and General Manager are joining the call to end this shameless Chinese drip (literally Chinese, since most solar panels are manufactured in China). In a Sept. 8 position statement, they opine:

As the most expensive form of renewable power in the state, net metering raises the cost of electricity to Vermonters who do not own such systems while it lowers the costs for those who do. The resulting inequity is disturbing. … After 25 years of net metering it is time for the state to encourage the mature solar industry to stand on its own alongside other equally valuable renewable resources.

Most Vermonters now know why their electric rates are nearly 50% higher than national averages — they are subsidizing the virtue-signaling elites who cruise around in quiet rigs while sneering derisively at those of us who drive used pick-up trucks or can’t afford a new muffler. Yet this has not stopped the naked emperors from crowing about their achievements as “national leadership,” as Peter Welch and Becca Balint recently did at a Quechee forum. Nor has it halted additional drip-thieving initiatives like the Global Warming Solutions Act, and the “Clean Heat” effort last session to tax heating oil to finance expensive heat pumps. This is a scandal that gets ever more scandalous.

Are Vermont’s legislators literally deaf, or just “hear-no-evil” evildoers who plunge forward in their deluded ideology in cognitive dissonance and callous disregard for those they harm? Whatever the dastardly case, this must stop. In fact, a commission should be formed to determine how the ratepayers are to be repaid! That would be the “equitable” plan – ratepayer reparations.

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