It is beyond disgusting that a foreign conglomerate, Iberdrola Renewables, is attempting to buy the election referendum on its 24-tower big wind development along the ridgelines in Windham and Grafton. In addition to taxpayer incentives, the company is offering individual payments of $1,125 per year to the residents of Windham, and $427 per year to the residents of Grafton. Incredibly, these amounts are based on “the feedback of community members” as to what would persuade them to vote yes on the referendum. This vote-buying scheme hardly seems legal, yet the Vermont Attorney General has approved it on the grounds that payments are being made to everyone, regardless of how they vote; but obviously, payments will only be made if the referendum passes. We complain about Citizens United, yet here we have a blatant effort by a wealthy corporation to buy an election outright, simply because it can. This makes a mockery and a sham of the democratic process. Instead of big wind ridgeline development being judged on its own merits, it simply comes down to the price at which voters can be bought.
If the good citizens of Windham and Grafton do sell out their mountains for 30 pieces of silver, they will live to regret it. Hauling 500-ft tall towers up a mountain requires roads wider than the interstate, large clear-cuts around each tower, and nearly one million pounds of explosives to blast the mountain into a gentle-enough grade. Habitat for animals will be destroyed; water-absorbing vegetation will be stripped bare; and the effects of turbine “noise,” both heard and felt, are virtually unknown. Siting of big wind turbines on ridgelines thus carry enormous risks and impacts, as well as benefits.
For the sake of our democracy, our environment, and our community, I urge the citizens of Windham and Grafton to vote “no” on this referendum.
John Aberth, Roxbury, Oct. 15
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