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Wind Energy: Vermont need not ‘fly blind’

In response to Robert Costanza (‘Does Wind Energy Make Economic Sense’, Rutland Herald 4/3/04), I would draw readers’ attention to an article appearing in London’s Daily Telegraph on April 4th entitled ‘Huge Protests by Voters Force Continent’s Governments to Rethink So-called Green Energy’. As the title suggests, in communities and countries where industrial wind turbines are most prevalent, opposition to them is growing.

The Telegraph notes that opponents of industrial wind turbines are ‘dismayed at the proliferation of the turbines in some of the most scenic areas of the continent’, and are ‘outraged by the loud, low-frequency humming noise…and the stroboscopic effects of blades rotating in sunshine’. Erwin Thorius, President of Denmark’s National Association of Neighbors to Wind Turbines, is quoted as saying that “people living near windmills found it impossible to sell their homes”. Specifically, French regional councils ‘have started refusing permission for new turbine developments’, Denmark ‘is preparing to scale down the number of windmills in the countryside’, while Dutch officials ‘fear that public hostility will force them to shelve plans to expand Holland’s wind farms’. And, according to Clive Aslet, editor of Britain’s prestigious Country Life magazine, “as our continental neighbors have discovered, and we in the UK are quickly learning, the infrastructure costs needed to support wind power generation appear to hugely outweigh the advantages. It provides a trickle of green energy but is against all the principles of sustainable development.”

While Vermonters are reasonably familiar with the benefits of industrial wind turbines, we have not done our homework on the impact of their construction on our environment, economy and quality-of-life. As the Telegraph article suggests, there is a wealth of practical ‘real life’ information available on the impact of wind power on communities’ infrastructure. Before proceeding apace with wind power, Vermonters would be remiss not to avail themselves of the expertise and insight of those who have gained ‘hands on’ experience and knowledge. At the very least, should Vermont opt for the construction of industrial wind turbines, an understanding of the pitfalls of wind turbines would enable Vermont to craft rules and regulations to avoid the mistakes made by others.

The House has proposed a Study Commission to weigh the ‘costs and benefits’ of industrial wind power on Vermont’s environment, economy and quality-of-life. The Study Commission is now before the Senate. The Study Commission deserves our strongest support. For Vermont to proceed otherwise would be irresponsible. To proceed otherwise would be tantamount to ‘flying blind’.

Hugh Kemper