Impact on Landscape and Vermont
Rep. Klein is perhaps the most dogmatic supporter of large renewable energy projects in the Vermont Legislature. Being such a strong proponent, one would reasonably believe that he would have established a well-articulated rationale for his support. But a look at his record on big renewable energy reveals a pattern characterized by an absence of any objective rationale in support for his positions. In other words, he seems to be for large renewable energy projects simply because he thinks they're a good idea.
The pro-wind side professes that "we need to destroy our environment, to save our environment!" On the surface, this may seem the more responsible alternative. But I think the next question that needs to be posed is, what are we hoping to accomplish in strip-mining our mountains?
You cannot be at the same time a wind energy town and a location for retirees, second homes and the odd couple resettling. One of the area's most respected real estate agents has already made it clear that no one is interested in looking at land adjacent to the wind proposal property.
"Citizens investigating this technology's impact on their communities are deciding wind projects don't make for good neighbors. With four projects operating in Vermont and accumulating noise complaints, and another three communities with active developments, Vermonters are examining this technology ...We predict support will continue to erode as developers continue to push this technology on our communities," continued Snelling.
Why should we spend millions of dollars to destroy wildlife habitat, kill bats and eagles, pollute our headwaters, fill valuable wetlands, polarize our communities, make people sick, mine rare earth metals - just to ensure that we can consume as much or more next year than we did this year?
The costs of industrial wind far outweigh the benefits ... unless you are a wind developer.
The "view" is what attracts people to Vermont as tourists, as transplant Vermonters, and it is what keeps many of us here even when we could be more financially well-off elsewhere. ...Before we destroy our views of our mountains, perhaps we should try to calculate the tremendous value of our views.
The more large-scale wind development I see on our mountaintops, the less I like it. Not the sight of the towers and turbines themselves, but the clearing, blasting, filling, leveling, grading and overall destruction that can be required to build high-elevation wind-tower pads, service roads and transmission lines.
God help our ridges if what happened to the Lowell Mountain Range is the first step in Vermont's path to energy independence.
The Forest Service has compromised the integrity of the National Environmental Protection Act by selecting a person to draft its environmental impact statement (EIS) who was also working for the project developer, Iberdrola. Those who read the project's applications will find six relatively lengthy instances of plagiarism where the words of the developer's agent were used again verbatim for the EIS. This is a disturbing conflict of interest.
We shouldn't dynamite our mountain ridgelines to build a tool that can't achieve our carbon reduction objective. We shouldn't build power plants in the Kingdom when the demand is in Chittenden County. We shouldn't ignore the clear-cutting of hundreds of acres of trees that are our best carbon vacuum cleaners. We shouldn't allow runoff from miles of mountaintop roads and dozens of massive concrete base pads akin to any Wal-Mart parking lot. We shouldn't use a tool that kills off wildlife. How can anyone possibly justify such a tool receiving a permit to take endangered species?
The principal problem with the Iberdrola proposal is that it involves not one but 15 structures, each of which is far higher than the Bennington Battle Monument: 389 feet high to the tip of the blade. These would be not on a promontory but on top of a prominent ridgeline and would be seen for many miles and lighted at night for aviation safety.
In short, ridgeline wind is extremely destructive relative to the energy it provides, it is not cost effective and likely will never be, it does not have good overall resource potential in this region, and there are much better alternatives that do have a good cost and resource outlook.
Recently I hiked up to the top of Lowell Ridge to see where 21, 400-foot wind towers will be placed. As I crested the mountain I came face to face with an energy policy that is at war with itself. The environmental destruction taking place there pits those seeking to reverse climate change against those who wish to preserve Vermont's pristine natural resources.
For years environmentalist fought ski areas over putting one lift up to a summit for thousands of skiers and riders to enjoy. Now some of these same environmentalists support desecrating entire ridge lines with heavy-duty roadways and giant wind turbines towering 400 to 450-feet with wing spans greater than a 747. I do not get it. How do these big white erections pass as "green"?
The irony of fighting global warming by destroying an untrammeled mountaintop can't be ignored. To me, it sounds suspiciously like the Vietnam-era fallacy that you have to destroy the village in order to save it. ...We need a more thoughtful way to make those choices when mountaintops are involved.
Vermont's mountain summits are too precious a resource to be made a pawn in the alternative energy game.
Lifting the existing moratorium - or simply ignoring it - would be a radical change in state policy ...Ending the wind development moratorium without clear rationale and rock-solid protections for our most-precious Vermont landscapes would be a significant step in the wrong direction.
So, where are these Vermonters saying, "Yes! Take our mountains - destroy our natural resources! We love seeing big business covering all 200 miles of our ridgelines. We love how you manipulate our government, destroy our environment and threaten our neighbors. "
Vermont's proud history of leadership in developing innovative, effective environmental protection is being tossed aside. This project will set an ominous precedent by ripping apart a healthy, intact ecosystem in the guise of doing something about climate change. In return, Green Mountain Power will receive $44 million in federal production tax credits ...The pursuit of large-scale, ridgeline wind power in Vermont represents a profound failure to understand the value of our landscape to our souls and our economic future in Vermont.
We are in a fragile economy, with a glut of electricity available in New England at low cost for the foreseeable future. The price of solar energy is declining every day. More than 90 percent of Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions are from heating and transportation.
With so much at stake for Vermont, the prudent thing to do is stop, look and listen. Wind developers and our political leaders owe it to all Vermonters and our wild creatures to make sure we get this right.
"The governor is free to make deals," said Wright. "But his appointees also have an oath to protect the natural resources of the state."
Wright said Vermont is destroying tens of thousands of years of geological history to make room for one short-term power project ...Where are the environmental groups, Wright asks. "Why aren't they acting with outrage that these mountains are being blasted away into rubble?"