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Wind energy not worth destroying Vermont’s ridgelines

I attended several of the hearings of the Public Service Board concerning wind tower construction on the Lowell Range. Some of the testimony was spot-on, some remote and some seemed almost irrelevant such as discussion about various statistical models for determining property valuation.

What is needed is a peanut sandwich and an apple. Walk to the top of the ridge to better get the feel of it. Ride if you must, but go alone or go with a silent partner. Leave your iPhone and ear buds at home. Go until you can see light through the trees to both east and west and you will know you are high. Lean against the glacial erratic that has been there for 12,000 years. When you finish your lunch do not move, stay there for an hour, preferably longer, and things will start to come into focus. The squirrel that was not there will be. Maybe a blackpoll warbler will appear or even the winter wren that you have heard but have never seen. I saw hen-of-the-woods there … never before and never since.

Now hear the chainsaws. See the fir tree tilt and drop, top swept back by the wind of its fall. See the bulldozer growl through the bear-scarred beech that have been able to survive at the edge of their range. Hear the grind of gravel trucks and graders and the grate of steel on rock. Feel the blast that throws the moss covered boulder in a dozen directions. Is the sacrifice worth it?

Our ridges are the best Vermont has to offer, although few see them up close. Few see the high notches and knobs; few see the copse and alcove formations of trees.

Think ahead 20 years to your trip from New York to Maine. Tugg Hill, Chateaugay and across Vermont to New Hampshire and the ridges of Maine. Many are now scrapped along the top for roads. Slowly turning blades demand your attention as waving arms would do. You almost forcibly turn your head for relief to the one ridge left as it was by nature.

Texas and many plains and prairie states can erect wind towers on land that is no different than all of the land around for 50 miles. And we can erect wind towers in barnyards and back lots. Let us not sacrifice the most precious parts of Vermont to satisfy the power companies’ needs for a federally demanded lower carbon portfolio and the intermittent power it will generate.

How many of those on either side of the issue have spent quiet hours on the ridge line of the Lowell Mountains?

“Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children … let us turn to them and say, this you inherit: guard it well, for it is far more precious than money … and once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.” – Ansel Adams.

Alton W. Smith lives in Wolcott.