I just wanted to share a letter that I wrote to several of our local papers. If it isn't happening in your area, it's just a matter of time before it does unless we stop this process now!!!
To Whom it May Concern:
Industrial Wind: Big Money for Big Business
For more than 30 years, Ive been proud to call myself a Vermonter and even more importantly, to be hailed as a Kingdom Boy. Living in the Kingdom is the way life should be. If I ever leave the Kingdom, I will always remember the small towns, friendly neighbors, and the willingness of others to help a person in need. Living here this long, it is easy to take little things for granted. I often drive the back roads of Albany, Irasburg, and East Albany and marvel at the unbelievable beauty of the landscape. Bright red farms stand out in sharp contrast against the dark green fields, cows and sheep grazing in the pastures, and beautiful rolling hills that in the fall will take your breath away when the green leaves turn crimson, yellow and gold. In my travels around the US, Ive found only a few places that can compare to the beauty of the NEK.
A recent study was conducted by the State of Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and the Vermont Ski Areas Association to determine what peoples perceptions were of Vermont and how these perceptions impact vacation decisions. While the report is very lengthy (the entire report can be viewed at www.cmo.vermont.gov
), I can easily summarize it for you in the next sentence. Unspoiled landscape, natural, original/real, and warm friendly people are all terms the participants listed as very relevant when thinking of and choosing Vermont as a vacation destination. Isnt it amazing that all the Kingdom attributes I cherish are so profound that people will travel from other parts of the country to experience them? To spend their hard-earned money to see and experience what we do every day?
The principal draw for Vermont tourists is our natural beauty. The tourism business of the NEK is even more reliant on it. I wonder what will happen when Green Mountain Power erects twenty-one 420 steel skyscrapers on the Lowell Mountain Range? These towers, if erected, will be easily seen from the following towns: Lowell, Eden, Hyde-Park, Westfield, Jay, Troy, North Troy, Newport Center, Newport, Derby, Holland, Coventry, Brownington, Orleans, Barton, Irasburg, Westmore, Albany, Craftsbury, Hardwick, Wolcott, Morrisville, and many places throughout the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Im sure there are others but these are all places where I have personally seen the flashing beacon at night. Apparently, as long as the towers cant be seen from Stowe or Chittenden County, then everything is ok.
Im not writing this letter to advocate for or against wind power or any other alternative energy source. But, how can we in the Kingdom justify the decimation of our greatest natural resource? Why will we stand idly by while Green Mountain Power and First Wind (Sheffield Wind Project) rape our land while they make MILLIONS? These wind projects arent about saving the environment; they are about big money, period. These large companies have chosen the Kingdom because of our low population and our lack of big money. They know they can tie us up in court for as long as they want because sooner or later, we will run out of money to fight them and they will prevail.
Whats an even bigger atrocity is that the investment by Green Mountain Power is guaranteed a positive return! We HAVE to buy the power. Thats like a casino saying if you walk in with $100, well make sure you leave with $150
who wouldnt take that gamble? Plus, they are already playing with house money as this project would not be possible without our tax dollars to begin with. The projected cost of the power generated by the Lowell Wind Project is around $0.13 kw/h. How can Vermont remain competitive, attract new businesses, and keep existing businesses when the retail cost of power will eventually exceed $.20 kw/h? For that matter, how will the great residents of the Kingdom afford power for our homes? Are you ready for your electric bill to double or triple?
Governor Shumlin was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, after returning from a trip to discuss buying more power from Hydro-Quebec, that everyone is trying to sell us power. The New England Market has excess generating capacity, and VT utilities have been approached with several offers. Its a buyers market. So tell me, Mr. Governor: we could essentially sign long-term contracts to purchase green power, contracts that could come close to or exceed the lifespan of the Lowell Mountain Wind Project, for much less money per kw/h, yet you want to ruin the landscape of the Northeast Kingdom and build them anyway? Can we again point to big $ as the reason? Or is it that several top figures in the administration have close ties to GMP? Or both?
GMP is also mutely silent when it comes to how much property values WILL decline when construction is completed. Who wants to buy a house that has a view of an industrial wind mill? There are numerous communities in Maine where large wind projects were recently completed (Mars Hill and Freedom ME are two such examples) that might have something to say about this. Google these two towns with Wind Project for some reading to see what we will have to look forward to if this project is approved. In fact, since several of these projects went on-line, many communities in Maine are creating ordinances against industrial wind after seeing what problems their neighbors are experiencing.
Many big wind advocates proclaim these projects to be low impact and environmentally friendly. Carving a road out of the face of a mountain large enough to drive tractor trailers on, flattening the top and then pouring millions of yards of concrete is low impact and environmentally friendly? Its amazing to me that the State will allow this, since they make it nearly impossible for a big box store to open almost anywhere because they dont fit the image of Vermont, while at the same time, disallowing billboards because they dont fit the landscape. Industrial wind towers fit our landscape? How hypocritical is that?
Recently, there was serious opposition to a single cell-tower being placed on Barton Mountain for reasons of aesthetics. A new location is running into a roadblock because of seasonal tenters who may tent in close proximity. This process has been ongoing for approximately 5 years. Im absolutely amazed how a single cell-tower can raise so much controversy while the construction of 21 wind towers seemingly does not.
We currently buy a large portion of our power from Hydro-Quebec, which is considered a green source of energy. When VT Yankees license is not renewed, we can make up that difference by purchasing more power from Hydro-Quebec as well as purchasing more New England based power. We dont NEED to scar our landscape to power Vermont; we already have more affordable and reliable green sources of energy already. Many studies also show that other forms of alternative energy are better suited and more viable for Vermont and will have less impact on surrounding communities and aesthetics.
Currently, the 3-member VT Public Service Board is taking testimony and will decide the fate of this project later on this spring. Im amazed at how a project of this magnitude that will impact the lives of so many can be decided by a 3-person board. For some, this issue may not be important because they cant see it from their house. If this project goes through, its just a matter of time before there is a similar project in your back yard. So I ask everyone who loves the Kingdom like I do to stand up and fight. Vermont, as admitted by Governor Shumlin, has other options. Dont let a large corporation ruin our beauty and take our tourism dollars with it in the name of going green. I simply cant imagine sitting in my tree-stand in Albany Center where I used to marvel at the setting sun going down behind the Lowell Mountain Range and seeing the dinosaurs of green energy instead. If you feel the way I do, please contact your State Representatives and Senators and also send emails to the VT Public Service Board at email@example.com