It’s a shame that more people don’t take advantage of the invitational open houses and take a hike up Lowell Mountain. After a strenuous hike has left you breathless, the view at the top is bound to take the rest of your breath away. This can be a real game-changer. Senator Joe Benning, after hiking up the ridgeline and viewing the destruction, was moved to introduce a bill asking for a 2 year moratorium on Big Wind. This would have given the state time to breathe and reassess the impacts created by industrial wind projects. This idea was introduced to the legislature in February by Energize Vermont. Though the bill did not pass, it did get some traction in the Senate.
There has been a tendency for developers and supporters of Big Wind to dismiss or ignore the concerns over people’s health and the natural environment. The money given to villages and individuals in lieu of taxes is also being used to keep people quiet. This makes it even harder for people to speak out against wind projects once they are up and running.
The Public Service Board set a dangerous precedent in issuing a Certificate of Public Good for the Lowell Wind Project before Green Mountain Power had met the conditions in that certificate. This single action significantly lowered the bar for all future wind development. The aggressive destructive/construction on the ridgeline is producing a serpentine highway at the expense of precious wetlands, headwaters and wildlife connectivity. The appeals process, on the other hand, is moving at a snail’s pace through hearings with the Public Service Board, civil court and the state Supreme Court. Fairness and due process have been compromised to the point where the Nelsons’ property dispute may not even go before the court until after the wind turbines are up and running. It will be interesting to see how the PSB rules on the conservation easements that do little or nothing to mitigate wildlife connectivity lost on the ridgeline.
There is little question that to ensure our future it is a good idea to look for alternative sources of energy. In a small state like Vermont with limited resources, Big Wind is not the solution. There is a place for wind generated power in Vermont. There is no place in Vermont for Big Wind. Reassessing the impacts of industrial wind should bring others to the same conclusion the rest of us have reached, that big industrial wind projects do not belong in this state. They do not belong on ridgelines where they’ll reek havoc with the natural environment. They do not belong in fields without realistic setbacks protecting the health and well-being of neighbors. Smaller community projects are the better alternative. Smaller wind turbines and solar panels, with little or no detrimental impact, are already an integral part of the working landscape.
Newport Center, Vt.
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