Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Contact: Lukas B. Snelling
Project Neighbors to Convey Impacts on Livelihood, Economy and Environment
The Public Service Board (PSB) is set to begin hearings on Green Mountain Power’s proposed wind power installation in Lowell, Vermont. The hearings are the latest step in determining if the Board will issue a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) to the foreign owned corporation. The CPG is required before the company can begin to erect twenty-one 410+ foot turbines on the prominent Lowell ridgeline.
Neighbors of the project are hopeful the PSB hearings will provide them with a forum to convey how the project will cause unprecedented impact on their health, businesses, property values and way of life. Many say the project would make it impossible to live in the area they have called home for years.
Jack Brooks lives next to the project border in Eden Mills, VT with his family of four. His family has resided on their property for the last nine years and if the project is built, they would have an unobstructed view of the turbines. Brooks owns and operates Laughing Brooks Farm and Forest on the property, an inn and wilderness retreat. The business relies on tourists seeking a remote area to experience the wilderness, something Brooks feels will no longer be possible if the turbines are built. “The tourist part of the business plan is 100% based on the remote and quiet place with views of the ridge line.”
Brooks’ concerns go beyond a loss of business – he fears the project will destroy everything he has worked to build. “At age 50 I cannot afford to start over or to lose the value I have invested. Being this close to the towers and having an unobstructed view of the proposed project I would lose everything I have worked for.”
Milo and Bonnie Day live on a property that borders the project and that they say they bought because of its, “rural beauty and peacefulness.” Their home is just 3,300 feet from the nearest proposed turbine. Both of the Days work for local companies, and are profoundly concerned that the project will dramatically change the character and economic viability of the area. They point out if Essex/Orleans counties were to lose only 10% of rooms and meals sales from the area’s 2008 level, “It would amount to a $3.5 million dollar hit on our already struggling economy.”
They know tourism is crucial to the success of the area and failing to preserve it for generations to come would be a monumental mistake, “Thousands of people, both Vermonters and visitors, come to this part of Vermont for what we have to offer: our natural beauty. Let us preserve that beauty for our children and grandchildren.”
Don and Shirley Nelson have lived on their property that borders the project for the last 43 years and for 29 of those years they were dairy farmers. Their home is on the Vermont Register of Historic Places, and they would easily see 15 turbines from it. The home lies approximately 4,000 feet from the nearest proposed turbine, with much of their land even closer.
The couple has been acutely affected by the project. They currently believe some of the land to be used for the project actually belongs to them. Additionally, last summer their barn was set ablaze, and they feel someone that didn’t appreciate their opposition to the project likely did it. They worry the project will devastate their quality of life at their home, “This project would completely destroy the aesthetics and the serenity of our property. With massive 443 foot structures looming over our property and with the resulting noise and the flashing lights at night it will turn our whole farm into a dead zone.”
The Lowell Mountains Group, a party to the proceeding, gave a statement on behalf of its members who would be adversely affected by the project. “Most of the neighbors are pro-renewable energy and understand the need for sustainable solutions, but to ask them to sacrifice their livelihood or serene way of life for dubious benefits is simply unreasonable. Considering the long-term environmental costs associated with the project, and the minimal benefits accruing to the communities impacted, the proposal is not in the public’s best interest. Solutions such as mounting solar panels on multiple properties, utilizing existing impoundments for submersible hydroelectric turbines, energy conservation, and even wind on a reasonable scale in an acceptable location, all provide more economical and environmentally friendly power alternatives.”
Energize Vermont Communications Director Lukas B. Snelling reiterates the non-profit’s concern that building utility scale wind in Vermont comes at too large of a sacrifice on the state’s character, “The Lowell ridgeline and the Vermonters that have made their lives there are part of what makes this state great. Why should we sacrifice their livelihoods and risk the project area’s environment for questionable gain? We need to take a step back and develop a statewide energy plan that puts the emphasis on community based solutions that will minimize the impacts of our energy generation.”
Energize Vermont was created to educate and advocate for establishing renewable energy solutions that are in harmony with the irreplaceable character of Vermont, and that contribute to the well-being of all her people. This mission is achieved by researching, collecting, and analyzing information from all sources; and disseminating it to the public, community leaders, legislators, media, and regulators for the purpose of ensuring informed decisions for long-term stewardship of our communities.
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