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Governor Jim Douglas on industrial wind

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas was a guest on VPR this past week. In response to a call-in phone question he had the following to say about industrial wind in Vermont.

VPR: Let’s talk to Paul in Sutton. Hi, Paul, what’s on your mind.

Paul From Sutton: Good Afternoon and Governor Douglas thanks for being a consistent voice in the opposition to industrial scale wind energy development in Vermont.

We now face 10 such projects in various stages of planning in the state and given our successful negotiation with Hydro Quebec what I’m wondering sir is what your vision for is for planning future energy options to meet our needs in a reliable and least cost way that will stimulate business.

Governor Douglas: Well I’m very proud of the contract that was recently signed by our retail utilities and Hydro Quebec. It’s a good deal for Vermont, it’s a good deal for Quebec , it’s a fair deal all around and it will provide some baseload power at a reasonable, stable, predictable rate, and I think continue to allow us to be competitive at least on that part of the cost of doing business. We’re still looking to the future of Vermont Yankee which is the cheapest power we have. There are folks who want to close it down. I don’t understand that. They employ a lot of people in southeastern Vermont. Windham County is the only one that’s actually lost population in our state over the last 2 years and now some people want to close down that large employer, but that’s been a reliable source of power. They’ve got some issues they need to resolve, I’ve been as outspoken as anybody about them but I think they are solvable and let’s hope that they’re addressed very soon, so that can be a part of our energy future.

I think it’s appropriate to look at other sources, at alternatives, at renewable energy on a small scale as well and I’m really excited about the methane digesters we have in Vermont, more than any other state per capita, using the waste product from our dairy farms to generate electricity. We have two large landfills now that capture the methane gas and turn that into electric energy as well. We’ve got some small scale hydro projects that are underway, some solar arrays, some of them quite sizeable, that I think can provide some support. And on a small scale individual basis, windmills are okay by me as well.

But these huge industrial things, I just don’t understand the appeal. The wind doesn’t blow all the time, it’s intermittent, it’s not inexpensive, it doesn’t work without large subsidies as a rule, the environmental impacts of clear cutting and building roads up mountainsides and putting in all the transmission lines and substations is quite substantial.

And I see in a report out of Massachusetts over the last couple days that people who have been excited about those are losing some of that enthusiasm. So we’ll have to see what people think about going forward..

Coincidentally yesterday I was in Irasburg and participated in the dedication of a new senior housing community called the Meadows and one of the benefits they tout in that new apartment complex is the beautiful sweeping views of Lowell Mountain off to the west, the nice sunsets over that mountain and the view of the Green Mountain chain to the north and south. That’s where they want to put some of these huge 4 or 500 foot wind turbines and not everybody in Irasburg’s too thrilled about that.

So I hope that Vermonters will not be enchanted by the quick and easy entreaty of those who say it’s a nice clean, renewable source, and think about the aesthetic and economic consequences as well as the environmental impact of these huge industrial machines.

[By courtesy of Energize Vermont]