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Wind opponents release plan to go green

Thursday, opponents of industrial wind turbines packed a morning conference at the Vermont Statehouse.

“We are putting together a thoughtful piece and a thoughtful contribution to the debate about how Vermont can get to a clean energy future and not sacrifice our ridgelines,” said Lukas Snelling, a spokesman for Energize Vermont.

Snelling says they’re not trying to slow down response to climate change. But he says health problems, minimal clean energy gains, and public input have all been ignored in green-lighting ridgeline wind projects.

Snelling says Vermont can achieve a 73 percent reduction of CO2 emitting resources by 2030 without use of utility-scale wind. In order to do so, the plan suggests greater reliance on Hydro-Quebec, biomass and methane, slowly phasing out nuclear power, and significant support for local solar and hydro. The report calls for no further ridgeline development with current technology.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee took testimony on the matter Thursday. Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington County, says he believes a bill mandating greater input on energy project siting will land before the full body. However, a wind-moratorium currently in the proposal likely won’t.

Thursday’s calls for changes come despite a lack of support from traditional allies. Wednesday, activist Bill McKibben praised ridgeline development, as has Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. But those in attendance say they’re not scared by what appears to be a mountain of a challenge.

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources is expected to begin marking up the proposed measure in about two weeks.