I have read numerous times that the proposed wind project will provide energy for 14,000 to 16,000 homes. Those numbers are derived from the “nameplate capacity,” which is the potential capacity of a wind facility should it be generating power 100% of the time. Wind developers themselves claim facilities generate only 30% to 33% of the nameplate capacity; this puts the total number of homes receiving electricity at 4,600 and 5,300 respectively.
Knowing this, the wind developers continue to mislead the public with the larger number associated with the nameplate capacity. The existing facility has been producing power at an average of only 21% of nameplate capacity since 1997.
Proponents have stated wind energy is environmentally friendly. The concept in itself may well be, but let’s take a look at the environmental impact industrial wind development will have on Vermont. ANR witness Forrest Hammond stated in direct testimony filed December 21, 2007, “An industrial project the size of the one proposed would displace large numbers of bears from this critical habitat and cause long-term harm to the bear population in southern Vermont.”
The Deerfield Wind Project would adversely affect 80 acres of National Forest, the first wind project on National Forest property. A total of 19,700 acres of National Forest in Vermont has been studied and determined suitable and viable for wind development.
How much wildlife would be displaced should thousands of acres in our National Forest be industrialized? Bears are already losing their habitat, forced into suburbs seeking food. Hundreds of miles of Vermont ridgelines are at risk with the acceptance of the Deerfield Wind Project. The negative impact extends beyond Searsburg and Readsboro. The environmental and economic impact on Vermont will be devastating. And, I might add, tourism depends on the pristine environment Vermont has to offer. Hundreds of miles of ridgelines littered with industrial wind turbines will not attract tourists.
The answers to energy conservation? How about we start in our own homes? Change the lighting to energy efficient bulbs throughout Windham County. This alone would displace the energy that the Deerfield Wind Project would produce. America needs to cease wasting energy. Do we need our cities’ skyscrapers burning lights 24 hours a day? There are endless energy conservation measures we can all partake in.
If people really want to be green, and make a noticeable impact, then take measures to get off the grid. The technology is here for solar, hydro, and wind on a residential level, providing jobs and profit for alternative energy companies. The feeling I get from industrial wind generation is corporate America in bed with federal government wearing an alternative energy facade. Another corporate money grab, providing no substantial results regarding the energy crisis. It’s in our hands, my friends.
We Vermonters need to change how Americans blatantly waste energy. The answer does not lie in destroying thousands of acres in our National Forests and littering our ridgelines with industrial wind turbines. This is not being green, by any stretch of the imagination.
Gerry DeGray, president, Save Vermont Ridgelines
7 February 2008
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