September 13, 2006

Turbine Turmoil: Hollywood Hijinks

“We are not going to back down,” says Luis Guzman.

The heated wind debate has blown from the hills of Vermont to Hollywood.

“We have about 330 acres… Yeah, I’m the biggest Puerto Rican land owner in the state of Vermont,” laughs Guzman.

Guzman is an actor who settled in Vermont twelve years ago, seeking a quiet place to raise his family. Guzman has played colorful characters in famous flicks like Traffic and Anger Management, but he found real life drama in his Sutton backyard. UPC Wind wants to build 26 turbines on Hardscrabble Mountain. Guzman is against the proposed wind farm because he thinks the 400 foot tall turbines will mar the landscape. Soon after voicing opposition to the project Guzman got an email from the wind developer.

“I think that when I got that email, number one, I was really offended because it was like someone was challenging me and at the same time threatening me,” says Guzman.

The email from Matt Kearns at UPC Wind reads in part, “I have frequent contact with folks in Hollywood since a high school friend of mine is now acting regularly in major motion pictures. Both he and his contacts were surprised to hear that you were opposing a renewable energy project.”

The email is subtle, but Guzman interpreted it as strong-arming: “Read between the lines. I’m not stupid.”

“I wouldn’t characterize it that way,” counters Kearns.

Kearns says he was not trying to intimidate Guzman, instead he was trying to win an influential wind convert.

“If it came out that way, it was not my intent. And so the door is open, but I meant nothing untoward by it,” says Kearns.

He says the email was his way to reach out and try to allay opponents’ fears over the turbines.

“We’ve put our roots down here,” says Kearns. “We like the project, we like the community, we think it’s a good project and it’s economics– it makes sense for Vermont’s future.”

“We don’t have to destroy the natural beauty we have here,” says Guzman.

A debate over turbines and the tactics being used– as Vermont tries to decide if wind fits into the state’s energy future.

Kristin Carlson – Channel 3 News

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