It’s the time of year for end-of-year lists. Several of us got to thinking about our top 10 for 2016, and, clutching our eggnog, came up with the Top Ten Reasons for Ending Vermont’s Romance with Industrial Wind Projects.
1. The clearest reason: Vermont’s rural communities don’t want these giant industrial plants. Even in hardworking communities such as Windham in southern Vermont, people refused by a nearly two-to-one majority to accept a wind developer’s payment in exchange for their peace, quiet, wildlife, scenery and the well-being of their neighbors.
2. The best “no-brainer” reason: Vermont is already “doing our part” to stop climate change. We have a tiny carbon footprint, based on a decade of energy-conservation efforts and our widespread use of clean electricity, and our carbon emissions remain the lowest of the 50 states.
3. The most infuriating reason: Connecticut, the state that benefits most from the sale of Vermont’s renewable energy credits, uses our wind energy so Connecticut can be an energy glutton and still feel good about itself.
4. An even more infuriating reason: Vermont citizens of all income levels will have to pay higher energy rates due to the crash of the renewable energy credit market. Companies like Green Mountain Power, with longterm commitments to buy expensive renewable energy like that produced by Deerfield Wind, won’t be able to offset the cost by selling high-priced RECs, leaving us to foot the bill.
5. The most obvious reason: State officials stated publicly that Vermont’s renewable energy efforts will not affect global warming. Vermont carbon emissions weren’t even considered in the development of Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan. Citizens might wonder: Why would we agree to destroy our natural heritage, the social fabric of our rural population and the peace of some of our citizens for a goal that is purely emblematic?
6. The saddest reason: Big Wind has tried to corrupt our democracy by funding candidates who support the industrialization of Vermont’s mountains. And wind developers dictated the terms of the referendums in Windham, Grafton, and the unified towns and gores of Essex County, offering cash payments to property owners if their industrial wind projects were approved. (On the other hand, the wind developers lost each election, despite the bribery.)
7. The most hypocritical and dishonest reason: Proponents of industrial wind don’t mention that new gas plants will have to be built as backup for wind-generated power. Natural gas is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
8. The most ironic reason: Vermont’s current policies promote ridgeline wind, which degrades our environment and exacerbates the very climate effects that we most need to mitigate – habitat destruction for species stressed by climate change and destruction of high-elevation forests that sequester carbon and provide the best flood mitigation in response to more frequent heavy downpours predicted to result from climate change.
9. The most ridiculous reason. Through various tax incentives, Vermont wind projects would divert huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to international corporations, which would then offer measly bribes to communities in exchange for accepting their projects.
10. The “who-ya-gonna-trust” reason: Wind developers tell Vermont communities to “trust the process” and allow the Vermont Public Service Board to decide where turbines should be placed. But many communities don’t think this is such a good idea, after looking at the PSB’s dismal record of bowing to developers, setting up impossible hurdles for communities and individuals and allowing developers’ transgressions to continue and to go unpunished.
Many of us want to stop, look and listen before allowing more industrial wind to be sited in Vermont.
Nancy Tips is a resident of Windham.
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