By Rob Roper
VPR is doing a terrific series on state programs titled “Did It Work?” going back to see whether or not the promises put forth by government programs actually delivered. So far, they have examined three such programs, none of which met expectations. I wish I could say I was surprised.
One story focused on electric vehicle rebates done through the Burlington Electric Department (BED). The idea was to put more low to moderate income people into EVs and hybrids by offering an $1,800 subsidy with a lesser subsidy offered to higher income Vermonters. It’s important to note that BED was doing this in order to comply with a government mandate related to renewable energy targets. It wasn’t a customer driven business decision (except for the fact that in a state command and control economy the state, not the end user, is the customer).
In the end, three lower income people ended up getting the rebate ($5,400), as opposed to 77 higher income people who got rebates totaling nearly $80,000. Green Mountain Power (GMP) is running a larger version of the same idea and, according to VPR, 400 people claimed the rebate, just 10 percent of whom are low/moderate income.
So, did it work? Like the overwhelming majority of government programs, no, it didn’t. What the program is succeeding in doing is transferring wealth from low-moderate ratepayers to wealthy Vermonters. Thanks to reporter Henry Epp for quoting me in his article, “For the state to come along and say, ‘I’m going to tax you, Peter to put Paul in a Tesla,’ that does not seem like a just use of government power or a fair use of taxpayer funds.” It’s not under any circumstances, but especially so when Peter is poor and Paul is rich.