July 7, 2004

Lyman’s Windmill Windfall, an Illusion

Lyman’s ZBA is considering a variance application from UPC Wind Partners, to erect a wind-monitoring device atop Gardner Mountain, first steps in a proposed tower complex along 2+ miles of defining ridgeline.

Impacting issues include potential scarring of the landscape and the applicant’s apparent threats towards the town. It’s not clear the hardship criterion was satisfied as requisite for granting a variance.

Yet, most disturbing to me is the suggestion this might be a panacea for Lyman’s cash burdens and limited tax base. I fear UPC is now calculating how much it will take to persuade a majority to look the other way.

Small towns like Lyman shouldn’t become dependent on single tax sources. Tax bases are built from a community of taxpayers. Prosperity is created through increased property values, jobs, and entrepreneurship, not by mortgaging assets.

Do massive wind systems increase property values? Mr. Tim Caffyn, UPC manager and lawyer, says they won’t be diminished. He fails to mention cases where real-estate transactions have collapsed near such towers.

Do windmills create jobs? Perhaps to clear-cut land and blast ledge for roads and towers. Not sustainable jobs.

Will they stimulate entrepreneurism? The Maine-based landowner will benefit. UPC of Massachusetts will benefit. Italy’s UPC Group, the mother company, will benefit. Bottomline: any gains will be bled out of state.

Regional economic development is growing steadily. Not atop Gardner Mountain, but via the retail and industrial developments of Littleton, rising property values in Lyman, and the dedicated efforts of economic development centers, investors, small businesses, and hard workers. Stronger tax bases result from enterprising NH people like you and me.

Vermont has draft policy that bans windmill installations on state land. Lyman and NH need to better understand both sides of this energy source before committing all citizens to unsightly industrial landscapes.

Jonathan Linowes

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2004/07/07/470/