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Letter to Vt. Dept. of Tourism and Marketing  

Author:  | Aesthetics, Environment, Human rights, Tourism, Vermont

I am concerned about the effect of commercial wind installations on the feel of Vermont. I came here and decided to live here because of the wild and open aspect of the mountains here. Commercial wind power will clearly change this aspect of my environment.

Vermont stewards – you included – urge Vermonters to adopt and exercise their sense of ownership of Vermont. I question the wisdom of adopting commercial wind power, especially unfettered and widespread installation for commercial wind derived electricity in Vermont wilderness and in Vermont wild areas. For one thing, the extension of infrastructure required to enable and maintain service to the wind power installations – power and 4-season roads kept plowed all winter – drives sprawl, something Vermonters have overwhelmingly said they are against. And, of course, a landscape dominated by industrial appurtenances will be a sea change to the sense of Vermont and her wild places. Recreation will affected in other ways, too. Recreational access to areas where there are wind farms is prohibited. It is also essential to understand that the 2.5-megawatt turbines that stand 400 feet high today will be replaced during a procedure called “repowering” – a phase two of wind power development of an area – by 5-megawatt turbines in the near future as more power is needed. The new 5-megawatt turbines will stand 600 feet tall and the rotor will sweep the area of three football fields. Seven-megawatt turbines are being developed, 10-megawatt turbines are on the drawing boards and today’s current maximum size turbines are 20 megawatts, any and all of which will be candidates for “repowering” on Vermont ridge lines. You should know about these future developments of Vermont’s commercial wind facilities. Repowering of sites is now being done in Germany … because Germany is running out of land for more turbines, so great is the footprint per unit energy required to extract energy from so diffuse an energy source as the wind.

Eighty million people within a day’s drive of Vermont and people from all over the world come to Vermont to experience Vermont’s small towns and their juxtaposition to her wild and open vistas. If we install wind facilities on Vermont ridge lines the entire sense of the state will change from one dominated by a sense of wilderness to one that is dominated by industry and predominated by enormous industrial appurtenances. I hope you are aware of the power and permanence of the changes that will result from such industrialization. I did not make Vermont my new home to see this done to it and hope it will not. I do not understand why your office is not making a loud and public protest against this abrupt, wholesale destruction of Vermont.

I find the following two questions essential in this discussion. I also find that they are being ignored. Please help me by answering them. Please also forward them to legislators and the news media in Vermont.

1.) If we are going to agree to commercial wind installations on our ridge lines, when will we say, “No more,” and stop installing these machines?

2.) When we do say, “stop”, why will we be saying so?

It is obvious that we will at some time run out of places to put wind turbines. That will happen relatively soon given the feckless nature of extracting energy from such a diffuse power source as the wind; there’s just not a lot of energy in the wind (and, on top of that, the energy there is is intermittent and highly variable, destructive to grids like ours.) When we stop installing more turbines, we will be doing so for a reason. It is my bet that the reason will be aesthetic and not either for lack of wind – as the wind blows over all of us and we can, if the money can be found to do so, extract energy from that wind over all of us – or because our demand for electricity has ceased or that there is a new source of electricity found.

I look forward to having a discussion about this issue with you. From here, it seems your office has been silent on the issue of the impact of commercial wind power on Vermont ridge lines. I don’t understand why this is. Shouldn’t your office be demanding honest and thorough inquiry into the effects of such development and shouldn’t your office be out front drawing the attention of Vermonters and all other interested parties to the realities of such installations?

Sincerely,
~~
Paul Kenyon
Bridport, Vt.

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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