As a 28-year summer resident of Craftsbury and Wolcott, I wish to voice my objections to the proposed “community” wind power project on top of the very nearby, highly visible Lowell mountains. This portion of Vermont, from Route 14 west to Montgomery and beyond, is mountainous, forested, and quiet. I call it the “Northwest Kingdom”.
Here is a question of future vision and wise resource use in this (pleasantly) overlooked portion of Vermont. It sits coolly above a crowded, intense eastern U.S., whose hot summers are likely to get hotter. It is already a recreational destination for Americans and Canadians. In the long-term, retirees, summer residents, and recreational visitors are a way to build community and economy, without placing demands on the schools. They bring money and jobs; support of education and culture; and support of quality medical care. They increase the value of local real estate. In contrast, a large industrial installation which levels those mountaintops and crowds their skyline does not build community or property values. It is not the important resource here.
I understand there is (very rightly) an intense statewide discussion about future energy sources and concern that Vermont is vulnerable to “outside interests.” The Lowell project, billed as a “community” effort, is in fact an exercise in “block-breaking.” One small town has been showered with funds and attention, and the proposed facility is not close to most of its residents. Green Mountain Power is Canadian-owned. Also, the actual economics and logistics of the proposed power generation should be scrutinized very closely.
This region has drawn creative people to its natural sanctuary for over a century. Wallace Stegner is perhaps the best known, but many others have made similar life choices. We don’t have the sea to keep us humble, we have the mountains. Act 250 serves to protect them, as viewsheds, watersheds, and places of pilgrimage. Industry was traditionally in the valleys – to put it on the ridgeline is hubris, an ancient Greek word for overweening human pride. I sincerely hope we won’t overreach this time.
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