Watch out. Here they come again. Deerfield Wind LLC, alias PPM Energy, a subsidiary of ScottishPower, the largest purveyor of wind turbines in the United States, now wants to build fewer but bigger windmills on U.S. Forest Service land in Searsburg and Readsboro, Vt.
PPM is the company, you remember, that wants to save us from the fossil-fuel industry by building turbines in the Berkshire towns of Florida and Savoy, among other places. And it wants to use taxpayers’ money and federal and state subsidies to do it, while ripping apart our scenic mountain ridges and treasured wilderness to make connections to the grid – connections that would supply us with less than 1 percent of even Massachusetts’ energy needs.
The good folks of Searsburg, who have lived with the region’s only wind farm for 10 years, don’t want the expansion, fearing noise and disruption, not to mention the change of scenery. But what a surprise, Readsboro and Searsburg selectmen do want the expansion. The prospect of annual payments in lieu of taxes and possibly an initial lump-sum payoff must be too much of a gift horse for the officials of these and other cash-strapped small communities to ignore.
But beware of international conglomerates bearing gifts. When it’s working, the 11-windmill Searsburg Wind Facility the industry likes so much to tout produces about one-fifth of the energy the new and “improved” version would bring (when it works). The new turbines would stand nearly twice as high, requiring, of course, continually flashing lights and new access roads.
Is this the right use for our supposedly protected forest land – places where no one can build houses, or in some cases even outhouses, because of the potential impact on the environment?
There may be places for wind turbines in the New England hills, but so far developers have been going at the thing willy-nilly, with very little careful study involved. And the effect on the fossil-fuel industry, even with thousands of turbines erected, would be next to nothing. Don’t these people have any bridges they want to sell us? Those we could use.
9 October 2007
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