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The Valley Reporter
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‘A real crisis of survival’

This very moment there is a debate going on in Montpelier that could change Vermont forever. The immediate bill causing the stir is a suggestion by legislators that a temporary moratorium be put on the permitting and building of utility scale wind turbines on Vermont’s ridges. This bill is a well-intentioned effort to slow down the mad rush and study big wind before it is too late. And well we should – how could extra care possibly be wrong?

Is it possible these towers are even being considered? Miles upon miles of 400-foot-tall industrial towers on the top of blasted mountaintops, 36-foot to 100-foot-wide service roads, massive 400-foot clearings, clear cutting, huge quantities of fill, thousands of yards of concrete. This is in the works? Who are these people?

We are talking about the destruction of the Green Mountain State as we know it. They will divide communities, degrade the natural habitat, silt the runoff, kill thousands of birds and bats, cause noise, strobe lighting and health problems, create safety risks (like throwing ice and blades thousands of feet) and, of course, be seen for more than 20 miles…. And then they will soon be obsolete, naturally, passed by the advance of technology.

Good planning involves identifying and prioritizing your resources for protection. We all understand that Vermont and the country must make every effort to address the issue of renewable energy and all its alternatives, but the primary resource we must protect in Vermont is her beauty – her wild mountains, rivers, farms and historic rural built environment. It is our lifeblood.

It not only makes Vermont a wonderful place to live and work, it is the very basis of our tourist industry. (Reports by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce show Vermont’s tourism economy is directly linked to $1.6 billion in spending and 60,000 jobs.) Folks living here, and those that visit, have no interest in a Vermont of ridgeline wind towers and huge, ill-placed solar farms, all for corporate benefit.

We are at an absolute cusp. We have a governor and a Public Service Board who have given the green light to all corporate “renewable energy,” even if it sacrifices our prime resources. We are trading “renewable energy” for a non-sustainable economy. But we can have both. In Germany, close to 50 percent of the nation’s power is generated by residential scale solar power. And increased energy conservation in the home has lowered the demand. The combination can work for Vermont as well.

This is a time of a real crisis of survival for our beautiful state. Her usual defenders – environmentalists, the Conservation Law Foundation, The Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Vermont Public Interest Group – have all gotten on board with the Big Power interests, thinking renewables at all cost. In my 45 years in Vermont (always supporting these groups), I have never seen a bigger threat. Call your representative.

 

The Schipas live in Warren.

 

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