As one of the founding members of “Save Vermont Ridgelines,” I am deeply concerned about the proposed commercial wind turbine development above 2,500’ sea level in Vermont. Over 40 years ago, in recognition of the value and fragile nature of land 2,500’ above sea level, policy makers in our state chose to declare this area of Vermont virtually “off limits” to development. Little has changed since then except for the modifications to Act 248, Vermont’s environmental policy, when considering commercial development, which falls under the purview of the Vermont Public Service Board.
What these changes mean is, if the PSB decides commercial wind turbines and the electricity they produce meet their level of “greater public good,” the PSB can choose to ignore unmitigable environmental impacts which would halt other types of developers and their proposals. Energy and the ever-expanding ways in which we, as consumers, make use of it are skyrocketing
We simply cannot generate our way out of our energy dilemma. While well-intended energy conservation efforts by “Efficiency Vermont” and others are noble efforts, they are simply outgunned by our society’s thirst for ever greater amounts of electricity. Energy conservation programs and energy construction policies will contribute to an overdue change in our mind sets as energy consumers. Unfortunately, it most likely will be the price we pay for energy that really causes America to modify its habits when it comes to energy consumption.
On a recent trip through Albany, NY, I observed innumerable multistory office buildings, retail stores, closed gas stations, etc., all with one thing in common; Countless lights blazing away after midnight with not a soul in sight. This kind of blatant disregard for what it takes to create energy has further convinced me that the mining of Vermont’s undeveloped and fragile ridge-lines in support of this status quo behavior is totally premature. To allow companies like PPM Energy to construct commercial wind turbines across a 19,000-acre corridor of our national forest in Vermont is only putting off the inevitable. The inevitable being successfully changing human behavior when it comes to the consumption of energy. Not accomplishing this change first will mean that hundreds of wind turbines across Vermont will have been constructed in vain.
If we want to place wind turbines in Vermont for the purpose of achieving a specific goal for our energy future, then let’s have a public debate which considers and addresses energy consumer habits. If we are going to place commercial wind turbines across our state without a plan which includes measures to address our wasteful energy consuming habits as a society, then wind energy development in the name of the “greater public good” is an unfair trade-off for the destruction of pristine ridgelines all across Vermont
Clifford C. Duncan
6 March 2008
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