March 14, 2013
Letters, Vermont

An open letter to Senator Jeanette White from her Windham constituents

Brattleboro Reformer | March 14, 2013 |

Dear Senator White:

As your constituents in Windham, we write to ask you to support the revised bill S.30. We feel that if you will stop and think about what we are facing, you will understand why your support for this bill is so important to us. The tract of land to which the multi-national wind giant, Iberdrola, has obtained rights is in the heart of our town. Some one third of our households are within a mile or less of the site leased for an industrial wind installation. Due to noise and health considerations, the current recommended setback is at least 1.2 miles, with greater distance recommended for turbines sited on ridgelines. Our elementary school is less than a mile from the leased site.

There are several reasons for you to support the bill for the sake of our community:

S.30 would make town plans binding. Windham’s town plan specifically prohibits industrial wind installations. We consider it particularly unfair that, having resisted a previous effort by a developer to place industrial wind turbines in our town, Windham spent considerable resources drafting and enacting a protective town plan, a plan with the overt support of a large majority of town residents. And yet our town plan was disregarded by the Public Service Board. (As you are no doubt aware, in December the PSB ruled in favor of Iberdrola’s request to place measuring towers here as precursor to an industrial site.)

S.30 would improve the review process for community concerns. One concern of many in our case: the headwaters of the Saxton’s River originate on the tract of land leased by Iberdrola. That Iberdrola will be allowed to cover headwaters, streams, and wetlands with concrete pads and impervious roads is insupportable. The costs to our town in dealing with storm water run-off alone will bankrupt us: 36 percent of the culverts for which Windham is responsible will be directly affected by this project. And these costs don’t include the degradation of our water supply and the loss of habitat for species we all cherish. How can we receive a fair hearing for our concerns? The present review system is prohibitively cumbersome and expensive for communities like Windham.

S.30 would place a short suspension on the permitting of industrial wind projects in order to allow for study of the effects of these projects on Vermont communities like ours. As more information becomes available about the true costs and the true output of industrial-scale wind turbines, more questions about them are raised. We all need to be better informed.

We would be pleased to sit with you and go over the facts in our case against the siting of an industrial wind installation in our town. We ask you to cast your vote for S.30 in demonstration of your willingness to take the time to learn more and to understand what is at stake for your constituents. We are sending this note to others at the forefront of this struggle so that they will also be aware of our position.

Frank Seawright and Nancy Tips,

Windham, Feb. 27

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