On Monday, May 14, I went to a meeting at my local town hall in West Rutland. The meeting was in regards to the proposed wind turbine project for Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline. I have to admit I didn’t think many people would show up. I was amazed when I saw a packed auditorium full of people who were mostly against the proposed project.
After the turbine company showed their little PowerPoint presentation promoting their project for 20 turbines, it was then time for the townspeople to speak. Many people got up and spoke their mind. One woman spoke about how her house is just below the proposed project site. She talked about how her child has a rare condition which causes him to be very sensitive to motion. She asked the company spokesperson if her home became a hostile environment for her child, would they buy her out so that she could move somewhere safe with her child. They had no answer for her.
In fact, most of their answers were elusive and vague and incorporated statements such as “that’s a complex question” and “we would have to do research about that.” They seemed very patronizing in their attitude and responses to the townspeople.
At one point their PowerPoint presentation indicated that the Audubon Society and Sierra Club were all right with these projects as long as they were in a proper setting. Well, unbeknownst to them, a member of the Audubon Society was in the audience. He stood up and proceeded to define what they consider a proper setting. Location is critical. The best settings are the places where there is the least amount of environmental impact, and even then wildlife is evaluated. He proceeded to state how for many years they have researched this valley and particularly Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline and have repeatedly recorded and documented many species of birds living and migrating in that region, some of which are rare species, one returning species that he mentioned that caught the attention of everyone present was the golden eagle. This information in my mind just solidifies more of what our Agency of Natural Resources has been saying all along —that this area has “exceptional ecological values.”
Returning to the subject of the proper setting for these turbines, I’d like to mention that, interestingly enough, the images that the turbine company showed in their presentation were images of wind turbines in open meadows and by waterfronts, only a few images of ridgeline projects. It begs to ask the question why they don’t do just that, instead of taking the harshest route. I can think of a couple spots that would be perfect for these turbines along Lake Champlain, such as Charlotte, Ferrisburgh and Shelburne. The wind that comes off the lake is wonderful in the miles of open meadows there. There are much better routes to take when it comes to environmentally conscious energy alternatives than to take the harshest and most destructive way of wind turbines on ridgelines.
These 20 turbines when calculated would each rise over 492 feet tall from the ground to the tip of the blades. They are massive. The construction of wind turbines on ridgelines is devastating. The irreversible damage that will be inflicted upon this ridgeline due to the construction and presence of these turbines flies in the face of being green.
I encourage everyone to read a letter published in The New York Times on Sept. 28, 2011, regarding the ridgeline turbine project in Lowell. It is entitled “The Not-So-Green Mountains.” It can be found on the website of The New York Times. There are other alternatives that are much more environmentally conscious. Small-scale, community-based renewable energy sources, such as solar, biomass and small-scale hydro are just a few.
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