As residents of the town of Morgan, many of us know Mr. David Blittersdorf by reputation as the developer who has built an industrial-scale solar development on an agricultural field near Lake Seymour. We also know that in the last few years Mr. Blittersdorf bought a ridgeline, also in Morgan near Lake Seymour, where he’s installed a wind-measuring device on the camp on that ridgeline.
In the last year, many of us have learned more than we ever expected to about industrial-scale renewable energy. Regarding industrial wind, in particular, here’s just a part of what we know:
Vermont is already a carbon-neutral state. Vermont produces just over 8.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide and 8.2 metric tons are removed by trees. So perhaps Vermont should plant more trees rather than stripping them from our ridgelines for industrial wind towers (Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation).
Vermont consumers use zero renewable energy from industrial wind or solar. With renewable energy credits (RECs) sold out of state, Vermont is using no renewable energy from these industrial developments (Vermont Law School study). This also allows the state purchasing the RECs to continue to use “dirty” energy.
Property values have been diminished: Property values are being diminished by industrial renewable developments. For example, in the town of Georgia, homes in proximity to the industrial wind development there already have been devalued by the town by as much as 12 percent.
Vermont ratepayers pay the high price: Utilities like Vermont Electric Cooperative are required to pay 19-20 cents/kwh for industrial renewables, when the current market price for power is 5-6 cents/kwh. Obviously, those higher costs are paid for by us, the ratepayers.
The health and environmental impacts from industrial wind are far too lengthy to enumerate in one letter to the editor. I have yet to hear of a single benefit realized by Vermonters from industrial-scale renewable energy. Developers like Mr. Blittersdorf and their lobbyists talk a great deal about national or global issues … but never have I heard any believable facts about the benefits that flow to Vermont.
I asked myself why are Mr. Blittersdorf and other developers here in tiny, carbon-neutral Vermont … when they should be in other states where their 500-foot wind turbines would probably a) produce more energy with more consistent wind, and b) be closer to load? Could a substantial part of Mr. Blittersdorf’s motivation be that the Vermont Legislature and Vermont regulators have mandated that our utilities pay (through us, the ratepayers) wind developers that incredible 20 cents/kwh mentioned above?
A year or so ago, the town of Morgan had a duly-warned meeting so we all could hear both sides of this issue that is impacting our lives. On numerous occasions, Mr. Blittersdorf was invited via phone, text and email. Until the day before the meeting, he responded to none of our requests for him to present his perspective. Pro-wind lobbyists and legislators were also asked to attend, but none came. So to provide balance to the meeting, material from the website of Renewable Energy Vermont was provided to all town residents. After a lengthy and lively discussion, we took a vote. With the exception of one person, the standing-room-only crowd unanimously voted to oppose an industrial wind development on the ridgeline owned by Mr. Blittersdorf next to Lake Seymour.
Additionally, subsequent to this informational meeting, our lake association polled its members to gauge their support or opposition to the same industrial wind development. The results were 92 percent of our members oppose it.
With this as background, imagine our surprise when Mr. Blittersdorf recently showed up at our lake association’s annual meeting, where he also mentioned that he planned to attend our upcoming summer social get-together. Most residents had never laid eyes on him before this.
So here’s my heartfelt message to Mr. Blittersdorf: Morgan is a town filled with kind, welcoming people. And if you’d like to make yourself a part of our community, we will welcome you … when you provide us with a signed document stating that you will respect the clearly stated wishes of our residents not to erect an industrial-scale wind development next to our lake. But if you refuse to do that (which you have stated you will refuse), please do not mistake the warmth and civility of Morgan residents as support. And if what you’re doing by attending our local events is mounting a new PR campaign, I’m quite certain you’ll be wasting your time.
This commentary is by Bill Bilowus, of Morgan, a retired high school coach and principal from Lackawanna (N.Y.) High School. He volunteers with the North Country varsity basketball team and the Morgan Brook Trout Fish Hatchery, and is a member of Vermont Fish and Wildlife Conservation Group. He is working on his hunter safety instruction state certification.
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