Daily Archives: December 7, 2021

The Definition of Insanity, Part Deux

There are many things I could write about this week’s gubernatorial Covid briefing. I could discuss the administration’s persistent cherrypicking of statistics that make it look good. I could talk about Education Secretary Dan French playing another round of three-card monte over the progress of the extremely incomplete Test to Stay program. I could dissect Gov. Phil Scott’s attestation that he’s more worried about the workforce crisis than the Covid pandemic.

I could write about how Scott and his officials insisted they are successfully handling hospital and ICU capacity issues on the same day that VTDigger published a story entitled “Calling for help: Rural hospitals struggle with overwhelmed ICUs, finding beds.”

But I’m confining myself to a single subject.

Back on November 10, in a post called “The Definition of Insanity,” I questioned the governor’s wisdom in sticking to his game plan even though the numbers kept getting worse. One month later, the numbers are even more dismaying. Nevertheless he persists.

So here’s “Definition” part two. Let’s assume that Scott will continue to emphasize vaccines and boosters and reject any tougher measures. If that’s what he wants, then he has to double down on getting the message across. Because it’s clear that he hasn’t managed to persuade enough of the vaccine-cautious to inhibit the virus’ spread.

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Nice Little Regulatory System You’ve Got Here, It’d Be a Shame if Anything Happened To It

Hey, it’s time for an update on the latest bit of corporate extortion from our buddies at GlobalFoundries, the biggest private sector employer in Chittenden County. Throughout its tenure — and before it, through much of IBM’s residency at the Essex Junction facility — the companies have used their heft to get various benefits from the state government, each time hinting to pull up stakes and leave for more corporate-friendly climes if it didn’t get its way.

This time there’s a double threat. GF is seeking to set up its own private utility so it can buy power on the regional market free of various state regulations, including renewable energy and greenhouse gas standards. It’s seeking Public Utility Commission approval for the move — and threatening to go ahead with or without PUC approval.

GF makes a, shall we say, interesting argument. In essence, it argues that it doesn’t need PUC approval, but it’s applying to the PUC anyway in order to preserve Vermont’s regulatory framework. Yup, the company says it’s acting to preserve a regulatory system by seeking to essentially opt out of the system. That’s a funny way to support a system, no?

But a question has arisen over whether or not the PUC can even consider the case. The Conservation Law Foundation and AllEarth Renewables say the PUC has no jurisdiction over the request because state law doesn’t make any provision for anything like private utilities.

Last month, the parties submitted legal arguments and counter-arguments for the Commission to ponder. Wednesday 12/8 is the deadline for any additional filings on the issue; after that, presumably the PUC will schedule a hearing. All documents, public comments, schedules, etc., can be accessed on this page in the PUC website.

So where do the parties stand? I’ll give you a simplified (and hopefully reasonably accurate) version after the jump.

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