Impact on Wildlife and Vermont
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?
These bat species are far more important than First Wind's profits. There's presently a glut of generation in New England and First Wind's intermittent power does nothing more than add to the surplus on the grid. ...First Wind agreed to curtailment during low wind speeds at certain temperatures and now seems to be complaining that such curtailment won't be profitable. Too bad for them.
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.
I am dismayed at how irrelevant data and subjective interpretations are masquerading as science in GMPs proposal. Scientifically based protocols for determining risks posed to raptors by industrial wind facilities have been established, and, it appears, are currently not being used in Vermont.
Waitsfield voters may be asked to make a decision about changing the Town Plan before Citizens' Energy has completed its environmental studies, and that would be wrong. The environmental studies for this project need to come first before any changes to the Town Plan are made.
Due to the recession, conservation and efficiency, and people using less to save money, there is lower demand and an oversupply of electrical generation.
In March GMP and CVPS and Hydro Quebec announced agreement on new 26-year contracts to provide Vermont with clean renewable hydroelectric power.
Far from being "environmentally friendly," the proposed project would effectively destroy one of the largest, if not the largest, bear habitats in Vermont. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources stated in recent testimony that the project "would result in significant adverse impacts to black bear habitat" and would "cause long-term harm to the bear population in southern Vermont." The Vermont Natural Resources Council has stated that the wildlife habitat in the western project area could not be mitigated. In other words, once destroyed, that habitat cannot be repaired or replaced.
Mr. Nye's paean to the electric companies aside, these huge industrial generators are not silent, they are not intelligent, and they are most certainly not friends to the environment.
My viewpoint was, and still is, that the huge towers (260 feet high), gigantic blades (add another 150 feet), blinking strobe lights, permanent removal of wind-hindering vegetation, and highly visible road and transmission infrastructures are totally inappropriate for wild, undeveloped, scenic and highly visible settings. And I said I thought that opponents should focus on those issues, as well as the small return in electricity for the massive public price paid, aesthetically and otherwise, and should perhaps stay away from the issue of bird mortality caused by the rapidly spinning blades. The jury is still out on that, I said, and conventional wisdom is that vastly more birds are killed by high-rise windows and free-running cats......Well, so much for conventional wisdom.
Editor's Note This opinion piece was written in response to a letter received from Lisa Linowes that is available via the link below.
The agency has informed the Public Service Board that the agency cannot make the legally required finding of no "undue adverse effect on ...the natural environment," including birds and bats, because there is insufficient evidence to support such a conclusion. The developer has not conducted the wildlife studies requested by the agency for over two years that would provide baseline data on the numbers of birds and bats that migrate over the project site.
Apower company's repeated refusals to provide wildlife studies for its proposed wind development on a mountain in the Northeast Kingdom should send a clear message to Vermont regulators.
Do not approve this project.