I am responding to Mr. McKibben’s remarks to the Vermont state Legislature last week. He states: “That [wind] energy gain is real: Every spin of that windmill blade reduces the need, somewhere, for burning coal or gas or oil.” Because wind generation fluctuates wildly, it destabilizes the electrical grid and the electricity must then be dumped (curtailed) as demanded by the ISO. For example, Sheffield dumped 35 percent of its electricity last year – many spins of the windmill blade. The inverse case is even more common: dumping carbon-fired electricity, which cannot be quickly turned off, so that utilities can buy state-mandated wind electricity from the ISO grid, after the CO2 is already in the air.
Mr. McKibben states: “This state leads the nation in green jobs per capita. What kind of signal would you [Legislature] be sending to the one set of businesses really ramping up here?” Indeed, Vermonters are eager to fight global warming, even with symbolic gestures like making wind electricity in Vermont. We should not feel obligated to destroy our pristine spaces to set an example for the world. Instead, we should promote home weatherization and clean transportation. This is where 95 percent of Vermont’s CO2 is emitted, and every rural Vermonter will benefit. Unfortunately, these efforts don’t satiate a guilty conscience as well as seeing wind turbines spinning on the horizon. We are told to “do everything we possibly can.” Should this apply to the least effective and most destructive methods that don’t benefit Vermonters?
Finally, “we stand on the brink of triggering earth’s sixth great extinction event, one that will decimate species everywhere including here.” Geologic history tells us that species adapt to climate change by migration, which is currently disrupted by human infrastructure. Saving species from climate change requires preserving large tracts of intact ecosystems to act as migration corridors: the exact spaces that wind development will decimate in our state.
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