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Caution in the wind  

Vermont must move in a measured, thoughtful way as it considers the potential and pitfalls of wind power.

Vermont must move in a measured, thoughtful way as it considers the
potential and pitfalls of wind power.

We must carefully assess the impact of 330-foot-tall wind towers with
blinking lights on our ridgelines. We must also look at our energy
portfolio and decide on a responsible course.

The Governor’s Commission on Wind Energy Regulatory Policy is part of
the effort to shape state policy on wind power before wind power shapes
the state.

Chairman Richard White, a Derby banker, says the commission’s job is
specific. It looks at the regulatory process for siting wind generation
facilities. Members will travel to Pennsylvania to see a large-scale
wind farm and hold public hearings in Vermont.

The mission is to investigate whether Section 248 of Vermont’s utility
laws, enacted in 1969 to deal with generation plants and transmission
lines, is adequate to evaluate today’s commercial wind proposals.

Section 248 is similar to the Act 250 land-use law, but applies only to
utilities. It was introduced long before industrial wind turbines were
anticipated for our mountaintops. Since then, wind generation has become
big business and wind developers have set their sights on Vermont’s
ridgelines.

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group envisions 272 turbines to
produce 15 percent of the state’s power. This extreme proposal has even
wind proponents shaking their heads.

Vermont rightly prides itself on its environmental ideals and activism,
but the VPIRG proposal is out of scale and out of touch with Vermont.

However, five projects of about 90 turbines have been proposed, with
only one project far enough along to go before the Public Service Board.
That is East Haven, a plan for four turbines on a former radar base.

The others are the Lowell Mountain Range, Little Equinox Mountain, Glebe
Mountain and an expansion of Vermont’s only wind farm, the 11-turbine
Searsburg facility.

In the affected communities, the proposals have polarized people,
neighbor against neighbor, environmentalist against environmentalist. At
least one of the proposals – the Lowell project of 27 turbines – has
met serious resistance as the range is highly visible for miles and is a
defining characteristic of this Northeast Kingdom region.

Vermont needs to move on forming a sound policy on wind power, but the
mountains and the prevailing winds will be here long after this
generation has passed. Let’s tread carefully and respectfully.

It is our responsibility to leave this state in better shape than when
we came, and it is our duty to slow down and take wind power apart,
piece by piece.

Three hearings

If you want to have a say about the rules guiding the siting of wind
towers in Vermont, tell the commission. Its report is due Dec. 15 and
there will be three public hearings:

— Oct. 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Rutland Holiday Inn.

— Oct. 26 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Johnsbury Elementary School.

— Nov. 16 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Pavilion Building Auditorium in
Montpelier.

Editorial Staff

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

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