The latest numbers released today from the Castleton Polling Institute show support for ridgeline wind in Vermont continues to erode. Support for wind on Vermont’s ridgelines reached a high of 74% in favor in Vermont’s deliberative polling back in 2008. Since that high-water mark, polling results continue to show erosion of support. In May of last year WCAX’s poll from the Castleton Polling Institute showed support was down to 69%. Less than a year later, today’s numbers were even worse, with only 66% of Vermonter’s declaring their support for ridgeline wind.
Activists and citizens questioning the development of Vermont’s ridgelines for wind power attribute the continued erosion of support to a variety of factors, but one of the most likely is that more of Vermont towns are facing proposals from aggressive wind developers.
“Poll questions are overly simplistic and theoretical. Asking people if they like something without explaining the pros or cons doesn’t really give you a meaningful result. Polls with a low sample size and a high margin of error poll are not reliable gauges of the status of the issue across the state,” said Lukas Snelling, Executive Director of Energize Vermont. “However, from these polls a clear trend has emerged. The more Vermonters know about these projects and their impacts, the fewer people support them.”
In 12 town votes from the last decade over 58% of voters have opposed the projects in their communities, with only 41% supporting them. The most recent votes in Hubbardton and Brighton were even stronger against with 94% opposed in Hubbardton and 62% opposed in Brighton. Additionally, Select Boards of the four Rutland County towns around the proposed Grandpa’s Knob project recently voted to oppose utility-scale wind in their communities. Three of the four town boards did so unanimously.
“Citizens investigating this technology’s impact on their communities are deciding wind projects don’t make for good neighbors. With four projects operating in Vermont and accumulating noise complaints, and another three communities with active developments, Vermonters are examining this technology more than they ever have before. We predict support will continue to erode as developers continue to push this technology on our communities,” continued Snelling.
“Vermonters are learning that we have options in our response to climate change that do not include sacrificing our ridgelines. They are seeing that ridgeline wind in Vermont is less about the environment and more about generating revenue for the developers. We see interest in smaller-scale solutions and solar technologies growing everyday. We are actively building a renewable energy future for Vermont that is firmly within our legacy of environmental protection,” concluded Snelling.
The coming months will bring another benchmark of public opinion in the wind debate. Like last year, this year’s Town Meeting Day Doyle Poll will ask for Vermonter’s opinions on ridgeline wind in the State. Although unscientific, comparing this year’s results to last years will give another barometer of the trend. Last year 64% of respondents support wind turbine construction on our ridgelines statewide, with lower numbers in communities where projects were operating or proposed.
Energize Vermont was created to educate and advocate for establishing renewable energy solutions that are in harmony with the irreplaceable character of Vermont, and that contribute to the well-being of all her people. This mission is achieved by researching, collecting, and analyzing information from all sources; and disseminating it to the public, community leaders, legislators, media, and regulators for the purpose of ensuring informed decisions for long-term stewardship of our communities.
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