This commentary is by Dustin Lang, of Swanton, who lives adjacent to the proposed Swanton Wind project.
Anthony Iarrapino (spokes-attorney for Swanton Wind) has described the Public Service Board’s hearing process as being: “like court.” He claims, “there’s going to have to be much more thoughtful, fact-based participation than we’ve seen so far.” I assume he means thoughtful, fact-based participation from Swanton Wind because over the last year and a half there has been nothing of the sort coming from Vermont Environmental Research Associates and its client Swanton Wind. As an example: VERA forgot the fact that it needed a certificate of public good to erect a meteorological tower to measure the viability of Rocky Ridge as a potential site for a wind generation facility. (This data, incidentally, is not even considered by the Department of Public Service when determining if a proposed project has the actual ability to produce the amount of power the developer claims.)
Who are these participants delivering these thoughtful, fact-based statements to the PSB on the part of Swanton Wind? They are a small group of experts who are involved with the wind industry and have testified many times before the PSB on behalf of wind developers as paid experts: Adam Gravel, Stantec; John Zimmerman, VERA; Kenneth Kaliski, RSG; Jeff Parsons, Sterling College; and David Raphael, LandWorks, among others. David Raphael performed the Quechee test: Does the project offend the sensibilities of the average person? Is it offensive or shocking because it is out of character with its surroundings or significantly diminishes the scenic qualities of the area? Mr. Raphael found that it did not. How nice of Mr. Raphael to do this for the average person as a paid expert for VERA and Swanton Wind.
There is not a doctorate among this group and the doctor responsible for the health and well being of Vermonters for the past six years, Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen, has never met with any of the victims of three Vermont industrial wind projects. And when tasked with approving a safe sound standard for Vermonters and Vermont’s industrial wind projects, he agreed with one recommended by the wind industry instead of investigating what was happening at existing wind sites in Vermont.
Most of the data for the wind industry is gathered and held in confidence by the wind industry. Much of the funding for the studies on the effects of industrial wind turbines has come from the wind industry itself. And this is the evidence presented by the experts representing the wind industry during the PSB hearings for a certificate of public good. Society realized the propensity to derive the desired results of a study’s funder during the congressional hearings regarding cancer and the tobacco industry — studies funded by the tobacco industry showed that cigarettes do not cause cancer. Back in my younger days there was a bumper sticker that read: “Question Authority” or more appropriately in this instance — Question the Motives of Authority.
Most of the data for the wind industry is gathered and held in confidence by the wind industry. Much of the funding for the studies on the effects of industrial wind turbines has come from the wind industry itself.
A recent example of this was a sound rules workshops before the PSB to discuss the problems with Vermont’s sound standards for industrial wind turbines. Experts for the DPS, who happened to be from Toronto, Ontario, were brought in to help the PSB address these problems. The two experts from Ontario were told to support the present sound standard of 45 dBA by former
DPS Commissioner Chris Recchia. This is the sound maximum that Vermont originally adopted from the wind industry. When asked by someone in the audience if they work or have ever worked for the wind industry, Mr. Chris Ollson and Mr. Payam Ashtiani answered that they indeed have and will continue to do so in the future. Please click here to see the “Down Wind – Wind Farm” documentary video and see what Mr. Ollson, Mr. Ashtiani and others like them are helping the wind industry do to the residents of Ontario.
The PSB hearing process is like a court trial, but a court trial where the defense is unable to call witnesses because they lack the financial resources to do so and are holding bake sales and organizing bottle drives to afford the legal fees and pay for experts to counteract the wind industry’s experts. Common sense does not apply. While the wind industry, with their abundant resources, the incentive of financial reward and a PSB that cheers them on from the scorer’s table is willing to enter into a protracted court trial.
This dog and pony show is supported by Sen. Chris Bray, D-Addison, who last year, alongside then-Rep. Tony Klein and then-Gov. Peter Shumlin, dismantled legislation passed by a unanimous vote in the Vermont House that would have taken steps to correct this inequity. Instead this power play by the wind industry is allowed to continue with a complete neglect of Vermonters’ property rights and a total disregard for local regulations. These projects have been championed by the urbanely dominated Vermont Legislature, which has been deceived by what Hans Ohanian (physicist) calls: “ renewable-energy projects that are more for show than effect.” And the burden of these projects is being thrust upon rural Vermonters.