Library from Vermont
The attorney general is siding with Vermont’s large law firms and big lobbyists to deprive opponents of industrial wind the advice of a person who knows the intricacies of the proceedings and can help those who cannot afford the high-priced lawyers the developers can. And make no mistake. Even though this is a preposterous charge and will likely be thrown out, its purpose will be fulfilled: to chill anyone’s free speech rights who dares to question the powerful in Montpelier.
I recently read that the Vermont attorney general’s office is investigating Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment. The purpose of the investigation is supposedly for “possible unauthorized practice of law.”
The letter suggested that all registered voters and all taxpayers be included in any vote, and that the Select Board should present the vote to Iberdrola as the “formal and only position of the town of Grafton on the matter.”
Taken together with the thousands of case reports from around the world (I personally have seen three families here in the Northeast Kingdom that have been forced to abandon their homes due to adverse health effects from nearby wind turbines), stricter full-spectrum noise standards for these large wind projects are urgently needed.
The head of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, Annette Smith, is under criminal investigation by the Vermont attorney general’s office for the possible unauthorized practice of law. “I can confirm that a criminal investigation is underway,” Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell said in an interview Friday afternoon. “I cannot comment further at this time.”
The state attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into criminal complaints against a prominent champion of Vermonters who are adversely affected by renewable development. The attorney general’s office is investigating whether Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, has practiced law without a license.
Wednesday brought the biggest show of force yet by Vermonters upset with the state’s siting process for energy projects. What has in recent years been a relatively small group of wind opponents has grown into a legion of people worried about wind and solar, including town leaders from across the state.
On Wednesday, more than 100 protesters gathered at the Statehouse to demand local control for energy siting. Leading the demonstration were state Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans; Karen Horn, policy director for the Vermont League of Cities and Towns; and Don Chioffi, a member of the Rutland Selectboard. Together they argued the energy project siting process as it stands now oversteps the will of ratepayers.
The bills would ban any wind energy project with a capacity of 500 kilowatts or more -- like existing projects in Sheffield and Georgia Mountain -- though small individual turbines would still be allowed. Strong and Rodgers cited the impact on the environment as well as the preservation of Vermont’s scenic resources as their motivations for pushing for an industrial wind ban
“We’re supposed to write our plans so that, if we plan for renewables they tell us we have to have, we’ll get greater standing at the Public Service Board — why didn’t that happen before? Because it is the state mandating, and that’s not what we need,” Smith said. ...Vermonters want renewable energy, Smith said, and legislators must trust that localities will site renewable energy projects without the heavy hand of state government requiring that they do so.
There’s a far better way to defeat Big Wind in Vermont. Big Wind developers are crucially dependent on an array of federal tax subsidies. The vital one is the production tax credit that gives the wind farm owner 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of power delivered. Impose a 2.3-cents-per-kilowatt-hour environmental protection tax on every new industrial-sized wind project in Vermont. That will exactly cancel the major federal subsidy that makes Big Wind profitable. Result: Vermont will never see another Big Wind project again.
"We as non-resident taxpayers provide at least 60 percent of the revenue to keep the town running," Hartmann said. "And yet, the way things stand now we have no voice in whether this project happens or not. And we feel that is an injustice."
The Vermont Department of Public Service, for the first time, acknowledged that wind farm neighbors sometimes experience severe negative effects from turbines spinning, she says. The department’s Dec. 23 filing describes the McLanes’ complaints as “credible and serious” and states there is evidence “of a significant impairment of the quality of life for some nearby residents.” There is reason to believe, the department determined, that the McLanes potentially suffer significant adverse health effects.
If the RECs are sold separately, a Vermont solar investor is getting what the attorney general calls "null electricity," and what Bender called "residual mix" from the New England grid, which as of last year was 39.4 percent natural gas-generated and 34 percent nuclear.
The planned New England Clean Power Link is a 154-mile underwater and underground transmission line that will travel from the Canadian border to the southern portion of the state. The line will run 97 miles beneath Lake Champlain before emerging near Benson, Vt., where it will be buried along roads for 57 miles to reach its destination—a converter station in Ludlow, Vt.
Being a commercial airline pilot myself, I understood and shared my colleague’s concerns. We were not alone — the airport manager expressed grave concerns about the project and the “operational safety and the economic impact it has on the airport.” As a result of what I learned I joined with them to oppose the project. Impacts on aviation were not the only problem with the Ira project.
Kevin Jones, deputy director at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, said most Vermonters don't understand that when a solar panel's renewable energy credits (RECs) are sold, the owner of that solar panel no longer draws renewable energy from it for their own use. Unscrupulous marketers capitalize on this ignorance, Jones said.
Brouha is asking the PSB to require permanent, continuous sound monitoring at his home by a third party. The Public Service Board has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 8 to determine if additional clarification of the sound standards is needed, and whether the commercial wind project is in violation of its certificate of public good.
The process by which energy projects are developed in Vermont is broken. To regulate development, we have the Public Service Board, whose members seem to have been appointed by the governor to further his agenda and policies. We have a Public Service Department that serves the governor, not the public. We have legislators who write policy to serve the very utilities and energy developers that finance their campaigns.
A Spanish energy company that wants to build a commercial wind project in Windham and Grafton says it will respect the outcome of a still-unscheduled public vote on the project.