Press Release November 18, 2010
Contact: Annette Smith, VCE Exec. Dir.
Vermont Citizen Groups to New Legislature and Administration:
Big Wind Not the Answer, Pursue Alternatives Instead
Leaders of six citizens groups from around the state joined today with VCE and others to call on Governor-elect Shumlin and the new legislature to re-examine their support for utility-scale wind on Vermont’s ridgelines.
“We are gathered today to sound the alarm bells – nothing less than the future of Vermont is at stake. The proposed ridgeline wind projects will irreparably harm our natural resources and habitats, make hundreds of Vermonters sick, and leave scars that will never heal – all for little if any benefit to Vermont or the environment. There is a better way, and now is the time to change course,” said Annette Smith, VCE Executive Director.
Smith was joined by residents of many communities, including Sheffield, Sutton, Lowell, Georgia and Milton, Ira, Poultney, Clarendon, Londonderry, Manchester, Waitsfield, Craftsbury, Westfield, and other towns facing wind projects in their area. Community group leaders continued their call for a “time out” on all utility-scale wind development in the state so that the latest information on health impacts from noise could be evaluated to determine how utility-scale turbines affect people who are forced to live near them.
Dr. Ben Luce, Lyndon State College professor of physics, described the other renewable options available to Vermont that will more effectively reach common goals. “We must act on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the appropriate way for Vermont to do that is by increasing our use of solar, expanding efficiency, weatherizing, and increasing vehicle efficiency. Utility-scale wind on ridgelines is incredibly destructive to wilderness, and has little potential to contribute to US emission reductions: The fact is, even utilizing ALL of the developable ridgeline wind resources in the Eastern US would decrease US emissions by less than 1%. Much more could be done with solar, with basically no impacts to wilderness” he said.
Michael Caduto, award-winning educator and author, described the many negative impacts from industrial-scale electricity generation. “Vermont’s and New England’s landscape need not be despoiled with hill-crowning wind towers that are connected to distant municipal centers by new transmission lines that will cut a swath through our natural and human communities from northern Maine to southern Connecticut. The time has arrived for a new energy paradigm—one that re-orients the movement of capital and engineering know-how toward generating renewable, sustainable energy that flows between a multitude of small-scale solar and wind power installations within the communities where the power will actually be used.” Caduto said.
Momentum is building for these types of solutions, explained Lukas B. Snelling, Director of Energize Vermont. He described how his organization is working with leaders in several Vermont communities to develop community-based solar projects.
“When project planning starts with residents, not developers, issues like siting, visual impacts and financial benefits can be solved collaboratively. We are charting a path to effectively solving our energy challenges, by starting in communities not foisting projects onto them,” Snelling explained.
Smith called on the new Governor and legislators to ensure that citizens concerns are heard in the legislative process. “In the coming legislative session, there will bills introduced that address siting of projects, financial support for renewable energy, regulatory oversight, and energy planning. On each of these issues, Vermont citizens have educated themselves and learned hard lessons when state policy has become a reality in their communities. We call on the legislature to ensure that citizens get the time and respect they deserve to testify on all of these critical issues,” she said.
“Good public process is what VCE is all about,” Smith concluded. “Without it, we will lose what is most special about Vermont.”
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