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On September 23rd, at the Lowell Grade School (route 100) in Lowell, Vermont, there is a critical Public Service Board hearing that could decide the fate of the Lowell Mountains.
Speak out! “No, we will not allow the lure of tax incentives to destroy or mountain tops!” But soon it will be too late.
Vermonters have fought long and hard to prohibit bill boards and keep suburban sprawl at bay. Vermonters have also worked to keep big box stores to a minimum. Recreation based tourism, a steady contributor to Vermont’s economy, relies solely on pristine mountain tops, clear lakes, unspoiled forests and rural farmland. This is Vermont’s “brand.” What Vermont lacks, mountain top chain restaurants and strip malls, it gains in beautiful vistas and recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. I think most Vermonters continue to be wise and thoughtful stewards of these precious natural resources.
How unfortunate that Green Mountain Power (GMP) has preyed on Lowell, a community like many that has been challenged by tough economic times. Lures of tax credits and lucrative land leases, short term “carrots,” have obscured a manipulative process and corporate greed agenda.
I fear Vermonters will come to seriously regret allowing the destruction of the Lowells and other mountain tops for the illusion of “environmentally correct” but truly inefficient ridge line wind power. Studies show that such cold location industrial turbines do not produce a lot of energy and rely on back up generators, fossil fuels and lubricants to run. Vermont does not truly have a significant wind resource. Simply, Vermont is not a wind-energy state (source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory www.nrel.gov ). The output of energy from the proposed Lowell Wind Facility does not justify the economic and environmental loss that would result. It is also important to stress that there are viable energy alternatives and clearly emissions from energy generation and use need to be reduced.
There are too many unknowns about these enormous industrial turbines and related infrastructure. It is difficult to imagine the size of these objects, but just to try to put it in perspective- these turbines reach 443 feet- the Statue of Liberty from its base on the ground is 305 feet. Hence, construction itself requires heavy equipment, including bulldozers, graders and large cranes. Getting all that equipment into an undeveloped area could prove problematic where existing roads might not be adequate and damaged in the process. Construction in an environmentally sensitive area such as the Lowells would also create erosion, disruption of water flow, destruction of wild habitat, including large numbers of migratory birds, and plant life. Furthermore, each of the 21 proposed towers requires trees to be cleared and vegetation kept down with herbicides.
Decreased land values and a reduction of second home and tourism dollars will surely result. And tourism is a source of income Northern Vermont cannot afford to lose. We will all lose the rare and natural beauty that makes the Northeast Kingdom so special.