Lowell wind opponents are taking exception to a series of TV ads that have aired touting utility-scale wind projects in Vermont.
A group called Ridge Protectors said this week that the ads are timed to influence the annual Doyle survey – which this year features a question about ridgeline wind projects.
Sen. William Doyle, a Washington County Republican, has sought reaction from Vermonters for years in his annual surveys, which are made available to voters who attend town meetings.
One of the questions this year is “Should wind turbines be built on Vermont ridgelines?” Respondents can say Yes, No or Not Sure.
Steve Wright of Craftsbury, a spokesman for Ridge Protectors, said in a statement that the “feel-good” ad is paid for by Renewable Energy Vermont.
It is a trade association with members ranging from First Wind, which runs the Sheffield wind project and its 16 operating turbines, Green Mountain Power, which wants to erect 21 turbines, Vermont Electric Cooperative, buying power from these wind projects, and other renewable energy companies.
“This is the kind of glossy, ‘keep the details hidden’ public relations effort that the wind industry has been using for years,” said Robbin Clark, a neighbor to the Lowell wind project.
“It is laughable to use utility-scale turbines on ridgelines as a symbol of renewable energy that fits in Vermont communities,” Clark said.
Suzana Jones of Walden, one of six protesters charged with trespassing during a December blockade at the Lowell wind construction site, said she is sure that the ad is intended to influence the results of the Doyle survey.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the ad is specifically designed to increase a positive vote,” Jones said. “This isn’t a coincidence – why else would they be spending the money now?”
Wright called the Doyle survey a tradition that is “homespun, unofficial and unscientific.”
He lamented that an industry group would seek to influence the results of the survey.
“The Doyle poll has always been a Vermont classic, untarnished by big-time advertising or outside pressure groups, just a snapshot of where we are as a community,” Wright said.
“We will have lost something truly special if it is Renewable Energy Vermont’s goal to influence Vermonters’ vote on the poll,” he said.
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