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Green Mountain Club challenges state proposal to open public lands to wind development

WATERBURY CENTER, Vt., October 27 – The Green Mountain Club today called on state energy planners to take a step back from a proposal to potentially open state lands to wind development.

In comments on the state’s Comprehensive Energy Plan draft, the club expressed strong misgivings about a state recommendation included in the plan that the Agency of Natural Resources “should consider rescinding its December 2004 wind project moratorium on public lands.”

“This would be a radical change in state policy at a time when the state continues a heated debate over the role of wind power development on our mountain ridgelines,” said Will Wiquist, executive director of the club. “Ending the wind development moratorium without clear rationale and rock-solid protections for our most-precious Vermont landscapes would be a significant step in the wrong direction.”

While the plan suggests that this is a matter of energy mode parity – i.e. treating wind on par with other renewable energy sources such as solar – the club maintains this suggestion in and of itself is not adequate rationale for making a blanket policy change that could expose sensitive, conserved public lands to energy development. Wind energy generation is more location-dependent than most other modes of production. Thus, by its nature, high-elevation public lands would be the focus of most wind development, unlike solar trackers that can be placed on open lands as well as existing structures – like those set up on the GMC campus.

The Green Mountain Club supports investments in energy efficiency, small-scale renewable energy generation, as well as conservation and stewardship. The club has expanding solar power generation capabilities at its campus as well as clean-burning wood heat and hot water for its headquarters. The club has also conserved over 25,000 acres of Vermont land in partnership with the state, private land owners, the U.S. Forest Service and other partners.

“The administration should be applauded for taking on the challenge of creating an energy plan for the state,” Wiquist said. “While we do not agree with this aspect of the plan, we support state efforts to confront the competing challenges of global warming and growing energy demands.”

The Green Mountain Club played an active role in the Lowell wind project’s Public Service Board proceedings. The club successfully argued for inclusion of radar-activated lighting and a decommissioning plan and fund in the certificate of public good. It neither supported nor opposed the project.

The 10,000-member Green Mountain Club is entrusted by the Vermont General Assembly “with the responsibility for the leadership in the development of policies” relating to The Long Trail which the club established and has maintained for the last century.

To read the state’s wind policy recommendations, click here and read page 145 of volume 2 of the plan (pdf page 159).

To read the club’s full comments on the energy plan, click here.

Contact: Will Wiquist or Megan Duni (802) 244-7037

General Contact: Will Wiquist or Megan Duni
Media Contact: Will Wiquist or Megan Duni
Phone: (802) 244-7037
Posted: 10/27/2011