Don’t get me wrong. I support wind generated power. I own a 10kw Bergey Excel2, wind turbine on a 100-foot monopole tower in “my backyard.” I read my electric meter every day and just about break even on my electric bill. It’s still exciting, even after a year, to make power from that wind. That wind is most predominantly from the northwest, right over the top of the Lowell mountain range, about 8 miles from my front door.
Thirty years ago, I bought this land for the view and the good growing soil, not for a potential turbine site. But after some years I thought I’d give it a try.
It isn’t too difficult a process to put up a small wind turbine. There is paperwork, financing, proper siting and the all important Certificate of Public Good. I live close to a historic, very traditional, well photographed place called Craftsbury Common. And I was unsure how that 30-day period where the public can request a hearing would go. Not one complaint or criticism came up and my CPG sailed right through.
It’s interesting now a year and a half later to hear from my neighbors and community. Most say they have a hard time driving by my place without looking over at my turbine to see the wind direction and how fast it’s spinning. Most importantly they say it “fits.” They like the fact that it’s small and doesn’t overpower the beautiful landscape where we live.
I believe we of the Northeast Kingdom support wind power, but in the correct sense of size and scale. I wager we have more small wind turbines on line per capita than anywhere else in the state. Small is good, independent is good.
There is a direct connection between me and my power. Small enough so you really have to look or cross the next ridge to see 13-foot rotors just above the trees, not 100-foot rotors atop a 350-foot tower that you can see 20 miles away. And you can’t see mine at night.
I realize it is not 1949 when then Gov. George Aiken coined the infamous description, “The Northeast Kingdom.” But I’d love to hear what he would have to say about the Lowell wind project and what kind of economic benefits to the poorest section of the state it will bring. Many of us choose to live here because it is the “Kingdom.” Most choose to travel here because it still looks like 1949 (except the road signs), still farmed, still logged. That is sustainable economic benefit. Gov. Shumiln needs to think, hard, again about his quick endorsement on Vermont Public Radio last month.
I do agree with Gov. Shumlin in his desire for a comprehensive energy plan for the state. Why “fast track,” this huge scar in an untouched landscape?
What is the hurry? My experience has shown the correlation between speed and quality is poor at best. As a woodworker the saying goes, “There are two times a woodworker hurries; right before they make a mistake and directly after.” Does the current administration want to be blaming poor forethought later because we “fast tracked” for a tax credit for Canadian Gaz Metro?
“The Kingdom” supports renewable energy through small wind, solar, and hydro power because it “fits” and enables us to preserve this place. We chose this place for its natural beauty that is hard to find anywhere else on the planet Earth. This isn’t my backyard, it’s the front yard of The Northeast Kingdom.
Harry Miller lives in Craftsbury Common.
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