Some 200 people traveled by bus from West Rutland, Newark, Albany and other hotspots of wind development Friday in hopes of catching the attention of Gov. Peter Shumlin.
They gathered outside Shumlin’s office in Montpelier for a rally and to sign a “certificate of public harm,” a play on the official certificate of public good that they hope won’t be granted to any more large wind projects.
“The destruction of our ridgelines is long-term,” Lisa Wright Garcia of West Rutland told the crowd. “The gains are very short-term.”
Wind opponents have been frustrated by Shumlin’s support of wind development, but this was a day when Shumlin couldn’t win the love of those for or against wind energy projects. Pro-wind groups sent out news releases criticizing his Public Service Department for opposing wind measuring towers in Grafton because they run afoul of the local town plan.
Wind power opponents have a more longstanding gripe with the governor, who generally supports such projects. As one speaker declared, “We’re going to put pressure on the governor” to stand by statements that he won’t force projects on unwilling communities, someone in the crowd shouted, “He’s lying.”
Shumlin wasn’t in his office, but the protest was audible to his staff on the fifth floor of the Pavilion building.
Public Service Commissioner Liz Miller said she was coincidentally in Sheffield, home of a wind project, at the time of the protest. She said that while the governor supports renewable energy, he also pays attention to public opinion on the issue. “I believe renewable energy developers should, like the rest of us, want to have projects located in towns that want them.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock was in the crowd. His campaign adviser, Darcie Johnston, was passing out envelopes seeking campaign contributions for Brock. He supports a moratorium on wind projects.
Shumlin has appointed a panel to study how Vermont should handle approval of such projects. Miller said the goal of the panel is to make the process less onerous for developers and local residents.
At Friday’s rally, Carol Aldrich and her husband, Brook, came from Florence in Rutland County, and held signs that read, “Moratorium Now” and “Learn from Lowell,” in reference to a call for a moratorium on future projects while the state assesses the impact of one under construction on Lowell Mountain.
The Aldriches live near a proposed project on Grandpa’s Knob in Rutland County. History buffs, they say the turbines would be visible from the Hubbardton Battlefield and would harm the view that has remained the same since 1777. “We need to preserve that,” Carol Aldrich said.
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