Controversy surrounds us. The towns of Pittsford, West Rutland, Hubbardton and Castleton are experiencing the proposed installation of unwanted wind turbines thrust upon them. These turbines are to be placed on Grandpa’s Knob, a ridgeline along the Taconic Mountains, intersecting these four towns.
Reunion Power is the company driving the proposed installation of these wind turbines and is the progenitor of the project to place them on Grandpa’s Knob. It is apparent that the only reason that Reunion Power is spearheading the installation of these turbines is the profit motive: In other words, how much money can it, Reunion, generate for its balance sheet?
The fact of the matter is that Reunion has completely disregarded, in its blatant audacity for installation and evident quest for profits, the needs, the desires and the wants of the surrounding communities. In spite of the fact that the final decision as to whether these wind turbines will be installed will be made by the Public Service Board, it is obvious that Reunion seems nevertheless to be driven in its desire to install them, being strictly interested in its own bottom line and not in the public’s needs and desires.
This attitude smacks of the words of the 19th-century capitalist William Henry Vanderbilt – “The public be damned.” If we do nothing to prevent this environmental calamity – this health threat – we will, in fact, be truly damned: psychologically, physically and emotionally.
It is extremely curious that Gov. Peter Shumlin appears to have distanced himself from this controversy and has not involved himself. The governor should remember, in the words of our ultimately democratic founder, Thomas Jefferson, that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and in this current situation the consent of the governed is not evident. Let us examine the reasons stated by the governed, the citizens of these four towns.
It has been shown, by medical testimony delivered during the Pittsford informational meeting by a prominent local physician, that people living within hearing distance of these towers suffer sleep loss, migraine headaches and emotional concerns.
It has been shown, through testimony from VELCO executives, that there is sufficient, if not a glut of, electrical power in the state of Vermont, in fact in all of New England, such as to obviate the installation of these turbines.
It has been shown that not one soul, no one at all, of the populace of these towns has, as yet, spoken in favor of the installation of these turbines, and, in fact, scores of citizens have spoken against their construction. Take a ride along Whipple Hollow Road and read the signs condemning the turbines’ installation. Yesterday, I counted at least seven.
It has been shown that the installation of these turbines will have a severe and detrimental impact on the tourism industry upon which many of our citizens rely, not only in the four towns already listed, but also this impact will extend to Rutland City, Rutland Town and beyond.
It has been shown that these towers cause unimaginable and catastrophic damage to birds and animals that blunder unknowingly into the wings and stanchions of these turbines. It is an infraction against federal law to harm a raptor, such as a hawk or other native avian species, all of which have been observed on Grandpa’s Knob. Should this untoward catastrophic environmental event occur, is Reunion prepared to face litigation in federal court? I think not.
Finally, it has further been shown, by evidence cited in a recent newspaper article by a second medical expert, that severe, and perhaps permanent, health hazards such as heart conditions, hypertension, vertigo, nausea and other conditions will occur.
The question is, with all the negative sentiment toward this wind turbine project, how are we, the citizens of the four towns, the nonconsenting governed, to get Reunion to pack up its PowerPoint presentation, its plethora of inane analyses and statistical dissertations and to get far from us and to have it cease entirely its plan to install these wind turbines? How are we to convince Gov. Shumlin that we do not, in any circumstances, want, need or desire these turbines to be built? It seems that the decision will be left up to the voters.
As stated, the final decision for the installation of these turbines is to be made by the gubernatorially appointed Public Service Board. It must be noted that a decision to have the wind turbine project go forward and the turbines installed is a decision entirely contrary to the voters, the governed, of the southwest area of the state of Vermont. If the PSB does, in fact, approve this wind turbine installation – much against the desires, wants and needs of the voters of the four towns and beyond – then Gov. Shumlin had better be prepared not to count on the re-election votes he may need from the voters of this state. For the governor, the installation of the turbines may be the end of his political career.
Larry Booker lives in Pittsford.