Indeed, it has been a very curious way to get to know my new neighbors. I’ve enjoyed a wide-ranging tutorial on electricity, its production, consumption and means of conservation. It’s been an enlightening education and to those over at the ski lodge in East Burke, on the trail at Wheeler Mountain, in the Sheffield meeting house, and at dinner tables in Sutton and Barton, thank you.
I didn’t know that Vermont had the only public utility solely dedicated to energy conservation. I didn’t know that Vermont also had the lowest per-capita consumption of electricity in the lower 48 states. Similarly, I didn’t know that sites with sustained winds in excess of 30 mph are best for wind turbines. Nor did I fully appreciate that so-called “green” energy sources are quite a different color if they don’t both reflect and respect the local resources and community (the story of the historic fight and eventual removal of the Newport No. 11 dam convinced me of that).
I have since raised quite a few eyebrows down here in Boston (where I’m transitioning from) when I tell them of my adamant opposition to the proposed wind power facilities in the Northeast Kingdom. After all, they know how pleased I am to have found a home that the original owners exactingly built to be heated by the sun, cooled by the earth, and plugged into an electric company which gets the majority of its power from renewable sources, including its own hydroelectric station. Why would I be against wind turbines? But after I point to the Boston skyline and they learn that the towers to be built on the mountain tops are taller and wider than the majority of Boston’s skyscrapers, that their construction will fundamentally alter the landscape, ecoscape and community for miles around, and that the wind is neither strong nor consistent enough in the area to create a reliable, sustainable energy source, they agree, the lack of benefit simply doesn’t justify the harms they would bring.
The vote on Jan. 16 will be my first in Barton. I’m looking forward to helping send a clear message to the Barton Board of Selectmen, Vermont’s Public Service Board, and others that solutions to creating energy independence must necessarily focus on renewable energy sources that are sustainable as well as reflect and respect the local resources, community and way of life.
The UPC Vermont Wind proposal must be resoundingly rejected. The electricity debate must move forward. Vermont must maintain its leadership role in promoting energy programs that make sense. For while I’ve learned that there isn’t much wind up here, there are substantial, renewable and sustainable energy sources to be tapped into here in the NEK, just ask your neighbors.
Thursday January 11, 2007
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