Library filed under General from Vermont
A truly "bold," environmentally conscious state would go nuclear even more. Burlington will only really be the "best of" Green Places when local postcards show its charming leafy streets, with a view of Lake Champlain -- and a nuclear power plant looming in the background.
Industrial wind turbine facilities are not only a visual insult, they degrade and fragment wildlife habitat, they threaten bats and birds, they open up wild areas to sprawl with roads and transmission lines, and, as wind energy consultant John Zimmerman has said, "wind turbines don't make good neighbors."
Karen Fitzhugh, head of the King George School in Sutton, will testify against a proposed wind farm in neighboring Sheffield. However, she will not be testifying on behalf of the private school but on behalf of the town of Sutton. “I thought her testimony was important to the town of Sutton,” Daniel Hershenson, a lawyer hired by the town to fight the project, said Wednesday. The school had indicated Fitzhugh would testify, if subpoenaed, he said. One was issued Feb. 12, he said. Fitzhugh is out of town until next week and was unavailable for comment. Fitzhugh has been an outspoken opponent of the project at public hearings, but has never testified under oath before the state Public Service Board. That was the reason the PSB ruled Fitzhugh’s claim that the school would close if the wind farm was built was inadmissible and based on hearsay.
What are your thoughts on wind power in Vermont and how it affects recreation? Local authors and outdoor enthusiasts Kirk Kardashian and Stephen Gorman make the arguments for and against windpower in Vermont.
For those who think developers' feverish promotion of wind energy is about saving the planet, think again. The old adage follow the money explains their zeal much more than do its purported benefits. Worse, the enormous investment returns available to wind developers for an unreliable energy source that offers negligible emissions benefits stem largely from federal and state subsidies paid for by taxpayers and rate payers. Go figure.
Patrick Eagan is trying to rejoin the Select Board. Eagan, 66, served several years on the board and was chairman when he resigned in 2000. At the time he said he took his recent primary defeat in a legislative race as a vote of no-confidence from the town. The following year he lost to Thomas Ettori, who had been appointed to replace him. This time, Eagan is running for one of the pair of one-year seats on the board against incumbents James Leamy and Stephen Williams Sr. "I follow the town," Eagan said. "I still represent the town on the transportation council. People called, asked me to run — several people. I had a concern personally about the wind towers. I'd like to be in a position to listen and give input." Eagan said he was leaning toward favoring the wind farm and was concerned about anti-wind activists coming to town from other parts of the state. "I think the main thing is to listen to the local people," he said.
In a time when political and geological uncertainties can make the cost of fossil fuels fluctuate wildly, wind power could offer a steady and predictable alternative source of electricity. At least this is the argument made by the developers of a proposed wind turbine project in the towns of Readsboro and Searsburg. Depending on the number and type of turbines built, this could amount to a 45-megawatt electric generation facility.
Public Service Board (PSB) - Rescheduled Prehearing Conference - RE: Docket #7250, Petition of Deerfield Wind, LLC, for a certificate of public good authorizing it to construct and operate up to a 45 MW wind generation facility, and associated transmission and interconnection facilities, comprised of between 15 and 24 wind turbines on approximately 80 acres in the Green Mountain National Forest, located in Searsburg and Readsboro, with turbines to be placed both on the east side of Route. 8 on the sa.m.e ridgeline as the existing GMP Searsburg wind facility (Eastern Project Area), and along the ridgeline to the west of Route 8 in a northwesterly orientation (Western Project Area) PSB, Hearing room, 3rd floor, Chittenden Bank Building, 112 State St., Montpelier.
This is a story about two men who forged a friendship at a nuclear power plant protest and then went on to collaborate on several sustainable energy projects, including three of the best known modern hydro projects in Vermont, over a 30-year period. Recently, the two separately embarked on wind projects in New York and Vermont. The fate of these projects couldn’t be more different: The New York wind turbines will be built this summer, while the East Haven Wind Farm in the Northeast Kingdom is effectively dead.
The current craze for wind towers is just that--a craze. Understandably, we are concerned about carbon emissions and energy security. Wind towers are a visible symbol that we are attempting to do something. Unfortunately, they are a hollow symbol. Like Don Quixote, we are obsessed by windmills, except that instead of attacking them, we are building them. Fifty miles of wind towers crowning Vermont's ridgelines will cost residents and taxpayers a fortune, but they will do nothing to reduce carbon emissions or secure energy supplies. We should put our money and our effort into less damaging and more productive solutions, such as conservation and the development of clean coal technology.
Industrial wind turbines capture the imagination because they are a visible symbol that we are doing something about the environment. But in fact they are a boondoggle. They have a negligible effect on the environment, while wasting money that might be better spent elsewhere, damaging Vermont's rural landscape (itself a significant economic asset) and transferring a ton of money from the pockets of Vermont taxpayers to the bank accounts of the developers.
On his way back from a meeting of Canadian and New England officials in Quebec City, Gov. James Douglas said by telephone Monday the group agreed to pursue increased use of renewable, more-efficient energy and cleaner transportation. But Douglas also said that Vermont should move cautiously on several of the proposals outlined in the group’s recommendations. For instance, although the New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers recommended unifying renewable portfolio standards laws across the region, Douglas said it may be premature for Vermont to enact such a law itself. Vermont passed a law in the last Legislative session pushing utilities to meet increases in power use through new renewable power projects. However, unlike a renewable portfolio standard, Vermont’s statute does not require the purchase of “green credits” from such renewable projects unless those goals are not met. Several other states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, have laws setting up markets for selling green credits, and some lawmakers would like Vermont to follow suit. “We have done well and will continue to do well to develop our renewable portfolio without a specific Legislative mandate,” Douglas said. “I think it may be premature,” to pass such a law in Vermont, he added............Douglas said that he remains opposed personally to the development of most large-scale wind projects along the state’s ridgelines. But regulators will enforce the criteria and statutes that exist independently of his feelings about the projects, Douglas said. “I don’t believe the pain is worth the gain in many of these proposed projects,” he said. “I respect that process, regardless of my personal view.” “I think it would make a dramatic difference in our pristine ridgelines,” Douglas added. “I am not persuaded it should be a large-scale strategy for our energy future.”
This is far from the simple story that proponents of wind power might have you believe. I do not wish to knock the hope of wind power. But equally I do wish people to be fully informed and understand the serious shortfall of its promise, the choices they make, and their potentially harsh consequences.
Up here in sparsely settled Northeast Kingdom, Sheffield Wind has touched off a bitter debate engulfing residents and town governments in half a dozen communities that will share unequally in the wind farm’s costs and benefits. What Sheffield selectmen see as a boon to their tiny community, other towns see as a threat to their scenic beauty, tourism, economy and property values.
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.
Questions of whether noise measurements have anything to do with real life, and if people can warm to the appearance of towering wind towers animated two days of testimony here before the Public Service Board (PSB). Aesthetic arguments against wind farms have made little headway before the board in the previous two cases presently on record — Searsburg and East Haven Wind Farm. Yet past results have not diminished the polarizing role they are playing in a bid by a Massachusetts’s company, UPC, to put up a wind farm on the ridge lines in Sheffield.
Aesthetic opposition thus includes reason. The Energy Information Agency has just reported that wind energy produced 0.36 percent of the total electricity generated in the U.S. in 2005 and 0.05 percent of the total energy we used. In European countries where wind produces a significant proportion of electricity, consumption of other fuels continues apace. This is apparently because other plants must stay on line, burning fuel less efficiently to balance the highly intermittent and variable infeed from wind. Giant wind turbines on the grid are sham symbolism, nothing more. Their negative impacts — to the environment, wildlife, people, and communities — are, however, all too real.
Paul Brouha of Sutton, who opposes putting big wind towers on our ridge lines, wants Vermont legislators to consider a bill to give financial relief to the ordinary people and small communities who find themselves fighting the monsters. He proposes that developers who look forward to collecting any of the government grants, subsidies or tax breaks available to alternative energy producers should pay the legal expenses of the people who want to stop them. The limit on these expenses would be the total of the grants and subsidies to be collected. We doubt that there’s much hope for the bill in the state Legislature, whatever its merits. But Mr. Brouha’s estimates of how much it costs to fight wind developers before the state Public Service Board (PSB) are surprising. He says the Kingdom Commons Group, which has so far fought to a standstill the plan to put four towers at the old radar site in East Haven, spent $300,000. And the opponents of the UPC Wind proposal in Sheffield will spend about $600,000. That spending, Mr. Brouha says in his “rationale” for the bill, will be shared by the Ridge Protectors, King George School, the town of Sutton and now the town of Barton.
As a writer, I am deeply indebted to the Northeast Kingdom, from which I’ve drawn inspiration for almost 50 years: its woods, fields, ponds, hills, its people, its other creatures. Like most of my neighbors, I favor conservation and renewable energy. The fear of climate change has been with me for many years, ever since I felt the early, subtle signs of it. But I do not support the proposed UPC industrial wind facility.
CASTLETON — A company thinking about putting a wind farm on Grandpa’s Knob introduced itself to the Select Board on Tuesday. Representatives of Noble Environmental Power met with the Castleton board late Tuesday afternoon to answer questions on just what they were proposing to do. It was the company’s first meeting with the town. The Connecticut-headquartered company has said it is looking at the ridgeline near the Castleton-West Rutland border as a possible site for a 25- to 30-turbine farm generating as much as 65 megawatts of electricity. That would make it the largest wind farm in Vermont. Development manager Duane Enger and development consultant Rob Howland — both based in Vermont — stressed the preliminary nature of Noble’s efforts. “Grandpa’s Knob is probably the closest thing we have to an actual project (in Vermont),” Enger said. “We’ve done preliminary studies and the majority of those studies indicate this would be a good site selection.”