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Forum, Sept. 8: End the tax credits for solar and wind power

Published: 9/7/2020 10:00:07 PM
Modified: 9/7/2020 10:00:01 PM
End the tax credits for solar and wind power

Nearly 20 years after Congress approved the first tax breaks for wind power, renewable-energy producers are still profiting from the subsidies at the expense of taxpayers and electricity consumers.

What’s more, the rush to renewable energy is undermining the viability of the electric power system, pushing scores of base-load natural gas, coal and nuclear plants into premature retirement and putting grid reliability at risk.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 created what’s known as the production tax credit, which gives 2.1 cents for every kilowatt-hour of wind electricity produced by a wind turbine during the first 10 years of operation. After years of subsidization, the cost of the production tax credit is expected to reach more than $65 billion before its scheduled phase out around 2029.

When Congress approved the tax credit, it was intended to support development of what at the time was an emerging technology. But wind power is now a mature technology that even its advocates acknowledge can compete on its own against traditional power sources without government assistance.

Due to advances in wind technology, the cost of wind power has fallen dramatically since 2010. According to the financial firm Lazard, wind power’s levelized cost at the lower end in 2019 was $28 per megawatt hour. By contrast, the cost of combined-cycle natural gas was $44 per megawatt hour, coal $66 and nuclear power $118.

Like wind, the cost of utility-scale solar power has continued to fall. The cost to manufacture a solar module is less than one-tenth of what it was a decade ago. But a generous subsidy known as the investment tax credit has bolstered solar’s growth.

Make no mistake, the U.S. economy will require a mix of energy sources to meet base-load generation needs for the foreseeable future. The alternative is reduced reserve margins and the growing risk of blackouts like those that brought everyday life to a stop recently in California. Weighing these factors, the way to avoid blackout anxiety is to eliminate tax credits for solar and wind power.



David Zuckerman has deep progressive values

I’ve worked well with both Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott for years. I’m proud to have been a part of Vermont’s tripartisan response to COVID-19. I like and respect both leaders. It is in this context that I’ll be voting for Zuckerman for governor.

Zuckerman supports family leave and an increased minimum wage. He has long supported universal access to publicly financed health care. And he gets the importance of actually fighting global warming.

These are not isolated positions. He has a long record of progressive, humane advocacy. He has long supported racial justice, women’s rights, prison reform and economic justice. As a farmer, he has a strong personal understanding of agricultural issues.

As the Senate’s presiding officer, Zuckerman has demonstrated fairness, competence and the ability to work well with people of various values and opinions. But with his friendly, open willingness to work with others, he has never backed down when defending his deeply held progressive values of compassion and justice. I hope my neighbors will join me in voting early for David Zuckerman for governor.



The writer represents the Windsor district in the Vermont Senate.

Dartmouth College’s reassurances on testing not convincing

Please compare Dartmouth College’s promised three tests the first week and subsequent “random testing” of students with my alma mater, Yale University, and its decision to up its testing to twice a week after an embarrassing faculty letter from the head of its Silliman College warned students that residence halls will resemble a “hospital unit” this fall, including deaths.

Random testing sounds uncomfortably like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s sudden change in policy to a more relaxed “asymptomatic people need not be tested” policy. Perhaps Dartmouth needs to read that Yale faculty member’s warning.

Yale is promising 24-hour testing results along with its twice-weekly testing. What turnaround time is Dartmouth offering? Thus far the administration does not offer convincing reassurance that Dartmouth can (in its own words) “leverage its rural setting” sufficiently with a “random testing policy” to achieve a safe campus.

I may have been successfully leveraged as “rural setting” citizen, but I am unconvinced.


Hartford Village

I don’t think Vermont’s DMV really exists

“Sir, I exist,” said a man to the universe, with full credit to Stephen Crane.

“However,” replied the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, “that does not incur in us a sense of obligation.”

All I want is a replacement of my lost driver’s license, but the DMV can’t handle phone calls and is impervious to email approach.

By mail, a form requests a copy of my driver’s license number, but that’s exactly what I don’t have. Am I some freak who doesn’t have her lost driver’s license number lying around?

Are you there, DMV? You have my $20, but do you really exist?



Why are political party beliefs so different?

David Lauter’s recent Los Angeles Times story (“GOP sees opening to target white voters,” Aug. 27) made the point that voters of both parties are susceptible to safety and security issues, backing it up with a recent poll by the Pew Research Center.

I found the poll’s results by Googling “important issues in the 2020 election.” As you can imagine, there were more issues than just safety and security. Using Pew’s data, I listed each party’s concerns according to its priority. The top six for Republicans were the economy, gun policy, terrorism, crime, foreign policy and the federal budget. I trust they’re focused on money and violence.

Similarly, these are the six most important issues for Democrats: climate, reproductive policy, health care, race and ethnicity, immigration and COVID-19. A world of difference — humanitarianism.

Still I wonder: Why so exclusive? I watched and listened to the people at the conventions testify, politicians and constituents alike. It seems to me all the people who were not politicians believed they spoke the truth. Since Republicans and Democrats are from the same planet, and truth is universal, why are one party’s issues practically the opposite of the other’s? The answer is, as Stevie Wonder sang: “When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain’t the way.”

If we recognize that the poll recorded a faith-based set of beliefs from GOP voters and an empirical set from the Democrats (both referring to “The Truth”), we see an overloading of independent ideals onto a single government. You can’t add oranges to apples.

Lastly, on which side of the fence lies truth? I believe the scientists, mostly because I watch the Doomsday Clock of the atomic scientists and it’s getting late for climate action. Vote for what you know, spurn superstitions.


White River Junction

Republican Party needs to take four years off

It is my opinion that the Republican Party has been in a downhill spiral for at least the last 10 years. Certainly, for the last 3½ years, the Trump virus has infected and reduced the majority of the party to a partisan group of mindless sheep that allow themselves to be bullied by President Donald Trump’s self-serving interests.

I will note that there are certainly some Republican patriots, like Sen. Mitt Romney and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who strongly disagree with the direction of the party. Kasich, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and many Republican staffers are already willing supporters of the Biden-Harris ticket to preserve our democracy.

My wife and I did watch all four nights of the “Democratic Virtual Convention,” and did manage to painstakingly make it through two nights of the “Republican Trump Show.” The contrast between the two was crystal clear to me.

The Democrats projected a professional image and offered many solutions to the mess that the Trump administration has brought upon the American people. The Trump show mainly paraded biased family members and supporters before the cameras to stroke Trump’s fragile yet enormous ego and broadcast ridiculous lies about the Democratic Party.

I also cannot understand how the Republican Party allowed Trump to use the Oval Office, treasured national sites and even the godly city of Jerusalem as backdrops for his partisan agenda. Each example is clearly and ethically inappropriate. Fireworks over the White House displaying “Trump 2020” is also incredibly tacky and wrong.

How about this: After all the fanfare the Republicans could not present a platform that they stood for. They just declared they would support Trump’s agenda. Goodbye democracy, hello autocracy.

Let us please give the Republican Party a four-year rest to give it time to disassociate itself from the Trump menace and rebuild itself, so once again we have two viable parties. We can help make this happen by voting for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris this November.



A witness to two of the most disgusting political cabals

Early each morning I take a brisk 2-mile walk around our village, which serves two purposes: It helps work off the daily rage I experience because of the foul, corrupt Republican administration, its loathsome, con man leader, President Donald Trump, and their spineless Republican sycophants in Congress; and it provides physical fitness to help me survive to vote to remove these odious representatives in the election this coming November. I also intend to live long enough to witness Trump and members of his family and administration indicted, convicted and sent to prison.

I was born in the 1950s in Madison, Wis., during the heyday of the disgraced U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his evil henchman lawyer, Roy Cohn, so my life is bookended by two of the most disgusting political cabals in our country’s history: the McCarthy era and now that led by Donald Trump, whose first lawyer and mentor was Roy Cohn — who schooled him on how to obstruct justice through the courts.

The years of my youth were tainted by the two terms of Republican President Richard Nixon. I was always an independent voter and once voted for a Republican presidential candidate. I will never trust any Republican politician ever again, and I wouldn’t give the time of day to anyone who helped elect those now disgracing our White House. The Republican Party deserves to disintegrate and disappear, hopefully before it can inflict more and irreparable damage to this country.


Newbury, Vt.

A reality check on Trump’s presidency

While pondering the Republican approach to the election, clearly the red state folks have an intense fear of words: Democrats will take away your freedom, build Socialism, take away your gun, your money and your religious beliefs.

A reality check: Reality in President Donald J. Trump’s America is using unidentified federal agents in the streets of Oregon to “control” the local population. Reality is compromising the social safety net by failing to support food programs for hungry American children. Reality is enabling the National Rifle Association to block gun restrictions. Reality is giving the Koch brothers and Trump’s wealthy kin extensive tax breaks with the new tax laws and the first coronavirus relief bill.

Reality is creating an inflated stock market at the expense of a record deficit. Reality is a president who lacks a smidgeon of moral decency — from extorting foreign governments to using Russia to fix the election — while earning the title of liar and chief, sending dirty Rudy Giuliani and his close friends to interfere in our free elections, sending his son-in-law and daughter to negotiate personal business loans and terms while on government business, etc.

Finally, can you trust a guy who is a known cheater at golf?

To the red voters another word: Boo!



Trump has no agenda for the country

President Donald Trump, who has no new agenda for our tattered country, is desperately trying to put fear into American “housewives” who live in the suburbs. He is canceling the Fair Housing Act to keep low-income people out of our neighborhoods because, like Mexicans, they are “criminals” and “rapists.”

Tragically, many of these people are our essential workers, underpaid health care workers, police officers, firefighters — the people who care for our children, the people who are risking their lives to keep Trump’s sacred economy going. Imagine using your meager pay to ride three buses at the end of a tiring day because you can’t afford a car or to live near your workplace. Imagine making minimum wage.

If Trump wants to get rid of crime, he should get rid of guns and get rid of the corrupt and evil National Rifle Association, which gives him and other Republicans millions, and he should stop supporting corrupt cronies.

He should clean the swamp as he promised. And while he’s at it, he should clean up his language.


New London

It’s Donald Trump who is unfit for office

Regarding Jeff Lehmann’s letter about former Vice President Joe Biden not being coherent (“Questioning Joe Biden’s fitness to be president,” Aug. 18). I truly wonder if he has listened to the current man in the White House, or better yet, read what he says. If he did, I trust he would see who is the incoherent one.

As to fitness for the office of president, almost anyone would be more capable of running our country than Donald Trump.



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