October 4, 2005

Vermont wind energy debate gains clarity

The message from the Douglas administration last week was that wind
energy development in this state should be on a “Vermont scale.”

“The governor is not enthusiastic about developing acres and acres of
Vermont’s most beautiful ridgelines with industrial wind turbines and
the attendant clear-cutting of transmission swaths required to move the
power from the top of the mountain to transfer stations,” spokesman
Jason Gibbs told the Free Press on Thursday.

Bravo. Finally, a declarative statement on wind energy after months of
murky confusion. Finally, a break in the clouds that have shrouded an
issue that is critical to all Vermonters but has been driven largely by
wind developers and advocates.

Taken at face value, Gov. Jim Douglas is saying “No” to big wind.
Industrial wind energy factories with 300- and 400-foot tall wind
turbines don’t belong on Vermont’s mountain tops. That doesn’t mean
renewable energy, including small “Vermont scale” turbines, won’t have a
place in the state’s energy future. They will and they should.

What remains perplexing, however, is Douglas’s support of a proposed
four-turbine commercial wind project on East Mountain in the Northeast
Kingdom. The Public Service Board has not yet rendered its decision in
this case, but Douglas has already said he is in favor of it. He
considers it a “demonstration project,” Gibbs said.

It raises questions. A demonstration of what and for whom?

If Douglas has decided that wind development should be on a Vermont
scale – unlike the four 330-foot tall, strobe-lighted turbines planned
for East Mountain – then why support sacrificing this ridgeline, which
happens to be in the heart of the government-protected Champion Lands?

Nevertheless, the governor, through his spokesman, has made an important
step in clarifying where he thinks Vermont should go with wind energy as
developers clamor for our highest peaks, including ridgelines in the
Green Mountain National Forest.

Wind power is a seriously divisive issue, as any community faced with a
wind development on their ridgeline will tell you. Douglas is already
catching grief from both sides.

He should stand firm and protect our ridgelines.

Editorial Staff

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2005/10/04/441/