By Guy Page
Katherine Sims, the Democratic candidate in a highly-contested House race, has received $1,000 in campaign donations this year from wind power developer David Blittersdorf, election records show.
Sims and Republican Vicki Strong are both incumbents. But the 2022 Vermont Legislature created a new district, Orleans 4 (Albany, Craftsbury, Glover, and Greensboro) pitting two incumbents against each other in the one-seat district.
Vermont Secretary of State campaign finance records show that Blittersdorf made one $500 donation on May 9, and another $500 donation on August 11 — two days after the August 9 primary.
Blittersdorf is Vermont’s leading developer and backer of wind power. He led a partnership that erected the Georgia Mountain four-turbine project in Milton. He opposed local government intervention in Green Mountain Power’s Kingdom Wind project in Lowell, pooh-poohing some residents’ concerns about health effects. His 2015 proposed Kidder Mountain wind turbine project in Irasburg faced immediate, organized community pushback. It was not built.
Blittersdorf is also a longtime member of the Board of Directors of VPIRG, the influential lobby group that has consistently supported legislation and permitting to for construction and subsidization of wind power in Vermont. He also is a solar power developer and has lobbied hard for state funding to build tracks between Montpelier and Barre for several self-propelled diesel-powered commuter train cars he owns.
The contributions may be significant because Blittersdorf is known in State House circles as a generous campaign donor who closely watches the voting records of his campaign contribution recipients. The winner of the Orleans-4 race will have a vote in the next session’s renewable power and climate change legislation.
Like all other Democrats (except one), Sims voted to override Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of the Clean Heat Standard last year. The veto failed only because a retiring Democrat lawmaker, Tom Bock of Chester, voted with Republicans – including Strong. The Clean Heat Standard would have siphoned money from fossil fuel sales to pay for renewable power and energy efficiency projects.
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.