March 12, 2013
Opinions, Vermont

What do wind turbines accomplish?

Written by Peter Morris | Burlington Free Press | March 12, 2013 |

In reviewing many of the recent posts on wind farm issues, it strikes me that the public has not been provided enough factual data to truly analyze the pros and cons to arrive at a rational final determination. The pro-wind side professes that “we need to destroy our environment, to save our environment!” On the surface, this may seem the more responsible alternative. But I think the next question that needs to be posed is, what are we hoping to accomplish in strip-mining our mountains?

Is this to reduce the number of coal, petroleum or wood-powered plants that Vermont relies on? Less than 1 percent of New England’s grid relies on coal and oil. How does destroying more ridgelines help correct a problem that does not exist?

Is this to reduce the effects of global warming? A huge portion of that can be attributed to automobile exhaust and heating our homes with fuel oil. Most of the remainder can be blamed on coal-powered plants in China, India and Russia. How can the destruction of our precious mountains with more wind turbines, possibly cure that?

Is it to reduce the air pollution we receive in Vermont? Nearly all of the air-borne pollutants that we see, here, were created in the industrial states in our Midwest (Ohio, Michigan, etc.) and blown here on easterly winds. How will devastating our Northeast Kingdom with 460-foot wind towers (that can be seen from two counties away) reduce the pollution we receive from the Midwest?

Is this to enhance our expanding need for more electrical power? The minimal trickle of power from wind will accomplish next to nothing in replacing baseload power sources. You can’t replace the 220 volts in your house with a handful of AA batteries. So, what are we hoping to achieve by killing our mountains and our unique culture?

Many of us reduce our energy source options to two distinct columns: smoke stack (coal, petroleum, wood) and clean (wind and solar). There are many more options that most of us have not included on the “clean” side. Ones, that do not require the further decapitation of our mountains! Why aren’t we exploring the dozens of other good alternatives we have at our disposal instead of blindly racing toward the very worst of our options?

I do see three major outcomes from continued wind development: 1. The increase in the costs of electrical energy may force IBM, in Essex, to consider relocating in the future; 2. The damage to our landscape and life style will reduce our unique attractiveness for our tourism industry; 3. Or, if the aim is to purely and irreparably destroy our mountain-scapes, we will have certainly accomplished that, too.

If any of those three goals represent what problems we are hoping to accomplish, we will surely get our wish!

Peter Morris lives in Burlington.

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