Library filed under Impact on Views from Vermont
The draft plan ...takes a hard stance on big wind. "Beyond the utility-scale wind project currently under development in Readsboro and Searsburg, as a matter of policy, utility-scale wind is deemed incompatible with the land-use policies contained within the regional plan," the document says. "Instead, we would encourage the development of solar energy generation that is compatible with our regional plan land-use policies."
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.
This picture was taken from the top of Lowell Mountain in Vermont, 20 miles away and northeast of the turbines in the view. First Wind erected the sixteen 2.5 megawatt Clipper wind turbines. Each stands over 420 feet tall.
The District 7 Commission of the ANR ruled that the cross was "shocking and offensive," and wants it down. State attorneys confirmed that the evidence has been reopened for the case, due to the erection of the wind towers, but declined to comment for the record. The judge is agreeable to admitting new evidence based on the wind towers being in the view shed, attorneys on both sides said.
Not that the students oppose wind power per se, says Ira Powsner, a Sterling junior who's majoring in conservation ecology and who helped get the petition started. They just believe that 400-plus-foot turbines aren't appropriate for ridgelines in general, and for Lowell in particular. The students are especially familiar with that one, because it's the destination of their annual "winter expedition."
I find it ironic that the mountains chosen by the Rutland Herald to exemplify our state's beauty are the same mountains that will be visually spoiled by the Vermont Community Wind Farm's proposed plan to erect 45 400- to 500-foot wind towers. Along with the turbines come the 36-foot-wide access roads cut into the mountains, the removal of the top of the mountain for footings and the power grid lines.
There is no question that between the number and size of the proposed wind towers in Ira that it does raise questions of aesthetics. Thirty-three industrialized wind turbines between 400 and 500 feet in height in such a small town are an abomination and absurdity. The town and its townspeople do have the right to make an argument of aesthetics. But it is not the primary argument.
The Vermont Public Service Board, a neutral arbiter of aesthetics, has ruled twice against the structure, which was erected by the owners of Teal Farm in January 2006, with the blessings of the town's zoning administrator. Subsequent challenges from the farm's adjoining neighbor, part-time Vermont resident E. Miles Prentice III, halted the project. The service board agreed with Prentice: It found the wind tower to have "an unduly adverse effect" on the surrounding viewscape. Living Future Foundation, which operates Teal Farm and its array of sustainable energy-and-agriculture projects, appealed the decision.
While being a multi-state resident for decades now, I have grown to appreciate Vermont much more than Connecticut, so much so that I have started a new business here in hopes of permanently moving here soon. But while the controversy rages about ridge lines, and wind mills, I can't help but wonder why the state of Vermont has banned all billboards from the interstates, and disguises the cell towers along the interstates to look like trees as not to offend the local character, but now it seems as though we will have no problem building 30-story tall structures on the most visible and scenic areas of the state, all with the flashing navigation lights so all can see for miles around in the once silent and dark scenery of the last great 'Kingdom' in the east!?
Will wind generation towers adversely impact one of Vermont’s iconic views, the long shimmering expanse of deep Lake Willoughby in the Northeast Kingdom? That is a question that officials in the town of Westmore have raised. They say they are concerned the sight of the proposed Sheffield Wind Farm on mountains located from two to five miles from Lake Willoughby, which is in Westmore, could affect the town’s prestigious National Natural Landmark status.
Where can the project be seen from? Will it be in the viewer's foreground or background? Will the viewer likely to be stationary or moving? Will the project offend the sensibilities of the average person? When viewed as a whole, is the project offensive or shocking, because it is out of character with its surroundings, or will it significantly diminish the scenic qualities of the area? These will be addressed by the Public Service Board.
Combining windmills with the ridges of Vermont, our glorious and unequaled landscape, is an irresponsible idea.
"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.
If we allow these wind turbines to come it is very possible that the economic health of Vermont as we know it today will be irreversibly damaged. Vermont will no longer be known as the last bastion of rugged beauty in the United States.
This paper by landscape architect Jean Vissering addresses siting guidelines for both utility scale wind plants and smaller scale wind turbines.
Jean Vissering's more extensive summary than "Wind Turbine Siting Issues in Vermont" of the workshops held in 2002 at Woodbury College to build a consensus on criteria for siting wind energy projects in Vermont.
A summary of the outcomes reached at four wookshops during February, March, April and May in 2002 that were held in an effort to build consensus on various criteria for siting wind energy projects in Vermont. This paper is available by clicking on the download link.