The proposed industrial 425-foot wind turbines on two hillside farms in Derby, Vt., sets a precedent never before seen in the State of Vermont. Never have two 425-foot tall industrial wind turbines been sited on rolling hillside farmland less than two miles from 1,000 residential dwellings, an international boundary and within a shared International Water Company protected watershed.
The developer Encore Redevelopment LLC has made the statement “in this part of the country it’s wind. If not us, it will be others and it will be 50 turbines.” Encore Redevelopment LLC has made financial offers to at least three towns/villages which I would liken to the proverbial dangling carrot. Mr Chad Farrell, president of Encore Redevelopment LLC has also submitted a white paper and testified to the Vermont Legislature detailing his opinion on how the wind turbines should be valued and taxed on the local level. Of course he opines on a valuation approach that would not relate to the income approach to value, thus he has attempted to influence the property tax structure to favor the wind turbine investors/owners. Mr. Farrell has redefined the “Highest and Best Use” for agricultural farmland in this state, quite a lofty opinion, I must say.
Why would investors sink $6 million in the ground? The major reasons are the tax benefit incentives and what I am about to describe.
The State of Vermont has a program referred to as Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development, referred to as SPEED. This affords Encore Redevelopment LLC “Renewable Energy Credits (referred to as REC”) which can then be sold to investors out-of-state. Also, the developers and their investors receive Production Tax Credits on the federal level. To Venture Capital Firms and Big Wind companies the tax credits and REC’s are very attractive. Under the SPEED application process the proof of economic benefits are waived, yes, believe it or not, I said waived. Wind turbines located on land are rated as a maximum of 30 percent effective yield/production, the remainder of the time they are not providing energy to the electric grid, thus power companies have to use alternate sources such as coal, oil, or nuclear power.
The statement that the electricity produced by these wind turbines will power 900 homes is nothing but an expression for impressing the public with a big striking number. The truth is to question the effective yield of a wind turbine and to demand the data expressed in kWh (kilowatt hours.) Also, because the economic benefits are waived, wouldn’t you think that there would be a penalty clause inclusive in the SPEED program due to low effective yield/production on an annual basis, the answer is no, that doesn’t exist. We will pay for this in the end, it will be out of our pockets in the form increased per kWh rates on our monthly electric bills. The developer states this in his 400-page Certificate of Public Good petition.
These huge wind towers are 125 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty; they are massive. The lifespan is estimated at about 20 years duration, then of course they would have to be decommissioned and dismantled if there’s enough money to do so. The blades are comprised of a rare mineral found in China and the processing creates pollution. There are numerous health effects from the sound waves emitted referred to as infrasound. This is sound you can’t hear, let alone the “whoosh” sound and vibrations you can feel and hear. The massive turbine structures have to be mounted on large concrete bases and must have access roads.
What does all this mean for the State of Vermont? It means numerous agricultural hillsides hosting massive wind turbines all because the farmers will sell the electricity back to the power grid and also receive ground lease income for 20 years, all of this possibly adjacent to small villages and town centers, it means dwellings built on 10 to 50 acre parcels will be in jeopardy of losing their views, value and privacy, it means higher electric rates, it means view sheds ruined by skyscraper height structures, it means wind turbines constructed within protected watersheds because the developers do not go through ACT 250 but are afforded a less stringent process called Section 248. I have read that the governor wants to expedite the alternative energy resources within this state, perhaps to have Vermont be a first in the nation and have his legacy as the Green Governor – but to what end? How far will the expedited process go before someone turns and says, we really should have chosen other alternative sources as opposed to wind turbines.
The Derby Line Wind proposed project is a precedent setter that opens the floodgate for numerous Northeast Kingdom towns and villages to be hosting massive wind turbines all due to the color green in the form of money not green energy. This proposed wind turbine project is a travesty, the repercussions are lasting and unforgiving for numerous years to come. Vermont Legislature needs to wake up and smell the coffee, hydro power is far more reliable, less expensive and far less dangerous than massive, expensive wind turbine structures. The infrastructure for hydro power already exists. The last time I checked, Big Wind does not have proprietary ownership of the air we breathe or the wind, nor do they own the sky above.
On occasion legislature creates a program with good intentions, such as the SPEED program. Unfortunately, it contains loopholes and flaws beyond reasoning, it is understandable that everyone would like alternative energy sources, conversely, the Netherlands learned long ago that wind energy has its place but not as a supply to the electric grid, the bulk of their power is purchased nuclear power. The proposed Derby Line Wind Project is not only a precedent for the State of Vermont but as I have stated previously, it opens the floodgate for numerous Northeast Kingdom towns to be hosting wind turbines on agricultural land adjacent to villages and town centers, also, watershed protection areas. All of this for the color green in the form of the “greenback.” This proposed project not only affects residents in the immediate Derby Line Village but also over 500 residential dwellings in Stanstead, Quebec, customs ports of entry, and the health and economic/marketability of property owners. Furthermore, many abutting property owners did not receive notification from Encore Redevelopment, as is required, including most of the residents in Stanstead, Quebec.
One farm in Stanstead, Quebec is within 1,500 feet of the wind turbine which only came to light when Stanstead held a public information meeting on April 4th at which time most residents became aware of the proposed wind turbines, obviously these residents did not receive timely notification from Encore Redevelopment.
The State of Vermont had the opportunity during the prior administration to purchase a hydro dam on the Connecticut river which was not pursued, subsequently, a Canadian company purchased the dam. You have to wonder what does it take for the State of Vermont to learn what the province of Quebec has perfected years ago, hydro electricity? When you elect to use an alternate approach, you need to do your homework and talk to those that have been there done that. In this case the Netherlands would have been an excellent resource. Vermont has always treasured it’s green mountains, rolling hillsides with Holstein cows grazing, small villages and towns and something often missing from large city centers, a healthy environment to raise your family in beautiful surroundings. Vermont is derived from the French meaning “green mountains,” now this state in its rush to develop alternative energy sources is in the process of annihilating the very name it came from.
Derby Center, Vt.
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