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Wind farms don’t belong in Vermont

I read the opinion of the motorcycling gentleman who crisscrossed Wisconsin and Illinois looking at landscapes full of wind farms which in his words “were too many to count” (“Anti-wind people are wrong,” Sept. 13). The angle in his letter is that the population in Wisconsin and Illinois lived peacefully and placidly, among the metal machines – without litigation, lawyers and lawsuits. I am wondering if he was riding with blinders on instead of a helmet.

First, he suggested a strong sense of acceptance by those in Wisconsin towards wind farms, their location (even as he put it “next to an elementary school”) and their possible effect on human health. What he saw was not the story.

As the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel published on Sept. 12, regarding wind farm construction over the last five years: “… Developers moved on amid widespread opposition to wind farms from residents near proposed projects as well as from Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature, which took steps to restrict wind farm construction during Walker’s first term.”

Now some of those projects are again being revisited and again those same projects are facing strong opposition.

Next, the letter writer seemed surprised that there were so many wind farms in a section of the country that is ranked in the top 10 every year with the highest wind speed average, (Vermont barely cracks the top 20 at 19th.)

The reasons states such as Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota rank so high in the number of wind farms/turbines – is, as he so aptly pointed out, because it’s “flat there.” That’s why that section of the country, which forms a column from Texas up through North Dakota, has the highest daily average wind rate and correspondingly, the highest number of wind farms. Did he not think “the windy city of Chicago” didn’t translate to the rest of Illinois?

The bottom line to me on any wind farm construction plan is this: Vermont is a state that sells scenery along with picturesque postcard towns such as Grafton, Weston, Newfane etc. Scenery and scenic vistas, hiking, camping, kayaking, it is after all the Green Mountain State.

Simply put, a lot of the green in this green mountain state, comes from the dollars spent to enjoy the scenery, and scenic towns that Vermont repeatedly pushes to bring in those dollars to this economy. I am not against alternative energy, but not when the alternative to that energy are wind farms on ridgelines, mountains, or in towns like Grafton.

In a state that refuses to put up billboards because of their blight on the landscape, it’s incongruous to me, that any wind farm gets a toehold in this scenic state – especially in a town, that is “quintessential Vermont.”

As that motorcycle gentleman noticed, it’s flat in Wisconsin – wind farms don’t go where it’s flat in Vermont. Here wind flows in higher altitude, high visibility locations – that define this Green Mountain State.

Maybe that gentleman should get back on his bike, but this time tour Vermont.

Mike Ross, Bennington, Sept. 15