Due to federal and state subsidies for wind projects, which reimburse about two-thirds of the construction and operating costs of these projects, over 80 miles of New England’s mountain ridges have been clear cut and blasted for the two lane highways that must be built to the top of the mountain and along the ridgeline to transport the enormous components of wind turbines to their destinations. Upon completion these machines rise hundreds of feet above the treetops with blade tips that move through the air at Class 5 hurricane force speeds – creating instant death to any bird, bat, or raptor that strays into its path. The roar created by the blades ripping through the air travels down the mountain to homes in the valleys below and at night, when all is quiet, many people who are sensitive to the pulsating low frequencies emitted by these enormous machines experience chronic, debilitating sleep disturbance.
Eighty miles of turbine-covered ridges amounts to 800 megawatts of installed generating capacity but during the summer months, when demand for electricity is highest, these machines operate at about 10 percent of their rated power, providing only about 1 percent of the 16,000 MW of electricity required by the New England electrical grid during an average day. This can easily be confirmed by visiting the ISO-NE website and viewing the real time charts showing how much electricity is being consumed and which generation types are providing it. For example, at the moment 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2015, grid demand is just over 15,000 MW and wind is supplying less than one tenth of 1 percent.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that to achieve the 20 percent wind goal that ISO-NE is planning for, our politicians, under the spell of well-funded special interests, will allow developers driven by the lure of free money, to continue raping the landscape until there are 1,000 miles or more of turbines strung out like enormous pinwheels on the iconic, high value landscape that New Englanders have heretofore protected with laudable environmental and conservation policies. In Vermont the free money given to solar developers is rapidly transforming our scenic highways into solar panel corridors that would make any strip mall developer envious.
Vermont wind and solar developer David Blittersdorf unabashedly states that his own plan for Vermont includes more than 300 miles of turbine-covered ridges and 65,000 acres of solar arrays. Despite the disastrous effect he alone would have on Vermont’s sense of place, the sporadic generation of his wind and solar installations would amount to no more than a symbolic gesture, with no real effect on the need for natural gas, nuclear and hydro generators to provide the low cost baseload power that the grid cannot operate without, and which must be ready on a moment’s notice when the breeze slows, or the sun goes behind a cloud or over the horizon.
Many Vermonters, especially those directly impacted by the proliferation of turbines and solar panels have become rightly concerned about the direction we are heading in. Only the combined action of each of our legislators can stop this runaway train. By blindly embracing the 90 percent renewable by 2050 mantra they are giving a death sentence to Vermont’s landscape, unnecessarily raising our electric rates, without a shred of evidence that such policies will benefit Vermonters in any way.