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Governor Against Industrial Wind Farms In NEK

ST. JOHNSBURY -- Gov. James Douglas declared Thursday he opposes the construction of industrial wind farms in Vermont.

Specifically, he said he does not support the proposed UPC wind farm with 26 398-foot turbines planned for ridges in Sheffield and Sutton.

Furthermore, he said his administration has adopted a policy prohibiting placement of huge wind towers on state-owned land.

But, Douglas said, he does support Matthew Rubin's proposal to establish four large wind towers at the former East Haven radar base, but would not favor expansion of the project.

The governor made his position on wind power clear during an hour-long afternoon interview at The Caledonian-Record.

He said he supports the development of renewal energy projects and endorses the erection of small-scale wind towers such as the one state Sen. Vincent Illuzzi built for his home in Derby.

"Industrial wind is different," he said, describing those kinds of projects as "a lot of infrastructure and industrialization for a relatively small amount of power."

If every wind tower project currently discussed for Vermont was approved and fully operational, he said, the sum of all the projects would not equal the output of the Vernon nuclear power plant, which provides 34 percent of all of Vermont's energy needs, or the Hydro-Quebec power contract that currently... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Specifically, he said he does not support the proposed UPC wind farm with 26 398-foot turbines planned for ridges in Sheffield and Sutton.

Furthermore, he said his administration has adopted a policy prohibiting placement of huge wind towers on state-owned land.

But, Douglas said, he does support Matthew Rubin's proposal to establish four large wind towers at the former East Haven radar base, but would not favor expansion of the project.

The governor made his position on wind power clear during an hour-long afternoon interview at The Caledonian-Record.

He said he supports the development of renewal energy projects and endorses the erection of small-scale wind towers such as the one state Sen. Vincent Illuzzi built for his home in Derby.

"Industrial wind is different," he said, describing those kinds of projects as "a lot of infrastructure and industrialization for a relatively small amount of power."

If every wind tower project currently discussed for Vermont was approved and fully operational, he said, the sum of all the projects would not equal the output of the Vernon nuclear power plant, which provides 34 percent of all of Vermont's energy needs, or the Hydro-Quebec power contract that currently provides 37 percent of Vermont's energy needs.

He compared the proposed placement of large wind turbines on Vermont's ridge lines to a proposal more than 50 years ago to build a federal highway down the spine of the Green Mountains. He recalled that then-Gov. George Aiken rejected the idea in order to preserve the natural beauty of Vermont.

Douglas emphasized the protection of Vermont's mountains is as important today as when Aiken took his stand.

"I don't believe it is in the state's interest to industrialize our ridge lines," he said Thursday.

Douglas spent the day touring the St. Johnsbury area, visiting the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, lunching with the area's legislators, and meeting informally with area civic and business leaders.

He said he toured a Canadian wind power project with 60 towers on the Gaspe and the level of infrastructure necessary to complete the project concerned him. He is worried Vermont ridge lines will be subjected to the same level of clearcutting, road building and transmission line construction.

Douglas said part of his support for the radar base project is the fact developer Matthew Rubin began it before he was elected governor and it might be somewhat unfair to slam the door on him after he's received some assurances from the prior administration.

The project is also to be built in an area that was already developed and an area with some asbestos exposure that will be cleaned up by the developer. Douglas said he is aware that the Agency of Natural Resources is frustrated by Rubin's reluctance to conduct necessary bat and bird impact studies.

Asked about the Dec. 1 decision by Sheffield voters to support the proposed UPC wind farm, Douglas said he is sure the possibility of property tax revenue for the town was a factor. He said the tax enhancement would be "positive for the host community," but would not provide the same benefits to surrounding communities.

Vermont's Public Service Board will make the final decision on the proposed UPC project, and Douglas stated the Sheffield vote would "be a factor, but not the deciding factor."

He said he's concerned that in some places around the state, wind farms could impact the state's hiking trails.

Asked to respond to criticism that his administration has not developed a statewide policy on wind, Douglas said his policy is clear - his administration will not support large wind farms proposed for undeveloped ridge lines.

He said he strongly supports alternative energy measures such as methane from farms or from the Coventry landfill and supports small wind projects, biomass and cogeneration projects such as the one at the Ethan Allen furniture plant in Orleans.

He said utilities in the northwestern part of Vermont may expand natural gas distribution to broader areas of the statein the future.

Looking to Vermont's future energy sources, the governor said he supports the 20 percent power upgrade sought by the Vernon nuclear plant and, while it would be premature to take a position now, the owners of the plant could have the plant's operating license renewed for another 20 years.

He's met with the CEO of Hydro-Quebec and said he was assured Vermont is a valued customer and the utility looks forward to contracting with Vermont in the future.

"[HQ officials] are very interested," he said, "and are building capacity."

He noted that neither Vermont nor Hydro-Quebec officials are interested in another 25-year contract, such as the one now in effect, but he is confident there will be future contracts.

Source: http://www.caledonianrecord...

DEC 16 2005
https://www.windaction.org/posts/724-governor-against-industrial-wind-farms-in-nek
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