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Computer simulates ridgetop with turbines

"We must carefully weigh the benefits of scenic attributes versus the limited economic benefits of wind turbines," said Diane Olcott, the chairwoman of the Manchester Village Planning Commission.

MANCHESTER — Manchester got its first look at what a controversial five wind turbine proposal might actually look like Monday night.

A three-dimensional computerized simulation gave the more than 100 people who jammed into a local synagogue their clearest indication yet of what would be the visual impact of the project.

Doug Walker, a consultant with the Orton Family Foundation, took the crowd on a tour of well-known spots where the turbines could be seen, starting with downtown Manchester's Malfunction Junction. The foundation is working with the town of Manchester on an educational process to analyze and inform the community through a series of public forums.

The five spinning computerized turbines could be glimpsed spinning in the distance, approximately from a simulated 5 miles away.

"The first thing you notice is that they are hard to see," Walker said.
The visibility also will depend on the light level. A darker, overcast cast will cut the visibility further, he said.

Zooming up to other well-known spots, such as Hildene and the Equinox Hotel, the computer simulation gave different perspectives on the visual impact.

The five 260-foot towers, with their 130 foot... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
MANCHESTER — Manchester got its first look at what a controversial five wind turbine proposal might actually look like Monday night.

A three-dimensional computerized simulation gave the more than 100 people who jammed into a local synagogue their clearest indication yet of what would be the visual impact of the project.

Doug Walker, a consultant with the Orton Family Foundation, took the crowd on a tour of well-known spots where the turbines could be seen, starting with downtown Manchester's Malfunction Junction. The foundation is working with the town of Manchester on an educational process to analyze and inform the community through a series of public forums.

The five spinning computerized turbines could be glimpsed spinning in the distance, approximately from a simulated 5 miles away.

"The first thing you notice is that they are hard to see," Walker said.
The visibility also will depend on the light level. A darker, overcast cast will cut the visibility further, he said.

Zooming up to other well-known spots, such as Hildene and the Equinox Hotel, the computer simulation gave different perspectives on the visual impact.

The five 260-foot towers, with their 130 foot rotating blades, were plainly visible from the back of the hotel's parking lot, as well as Hildene.

The simulation then explored the full range of vantage points from where the turbines would be seen, as the simulation looked out from the peak of Little Equinox, the smaller of the two peaks of one of southern Vermont's most prominent ridgelines.

"Where they are, they can see you," Walker said.

The turbines will be clearly viewed from both the valley east of the mountain, as well points further west toward Sandgate.

Other speakers were part of the evening's presentation on the visual effect the five turbines were likely to bring if the project ultimately gains state approval.

Jean Vissering, a landscape architect hired by the Bennington County Regional Commission, highlighted Hildene as one area that will have a direct line of site to the turbines.

Wind projects are still new enough for Vermont so long term experience with them, and the effect of their visual impact, is still limited.

Overall, she rated the visibility impact of the project as moderate to moderately high.

Another speaker, David Rafael, a consultant working with Endless Energy Corp., the Maine-based corporation that is seeking to obtain a permit from the state Public Service commission, told the audience that turbine projects can be de-commissioned and the towers dismantled if necessary.

The company has not yet filed for its Certificate of Public Good under the state's Section 248 permitting process. Localities have input into the process, but ultimately it is a state decision on whether or not to issue the permit.

The PSB relies on a process — known as the "Quechee Analysis" — that considers whether or not a proposal like the Equinox wind turbines has an undue adverse effect on the scenic or natural beauty of the area, Vissering stated in written comments distributed before the meeting.

Monday's forum was the fourth in a series of what will be six forums that will allow area residents to hear differing viewpoints and ask questions of experts. The process will continue with another meeting on Feb. 11.

Earlier forums have looked at the possible energy, economic and environmental ramifications of the turbine project.

The issue is likely to remain a controversial topic for some time to come.

"We must carefully weigh the benefits of scenic attributes versus the limited economic benefits of wind turbines," said Diane Olcott, the chairwoman of the Manchester Village Planning Commission.

Source: http://www.rutlandherald.co...

JAN 10 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/931-computer-simulates-ridgetop-with-turbines
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