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First, let me thank the Warren Planning Commission for their clarifying letter on their recent deliberations on this subject posted in the April 18, 2013, Valley Reporter. I applaud their sense of the need for very thorough investigations on this with considerable public input sought.
I am unable to attend tonight’s meeting, but I would like to share a few thoughts on this. Wind energy in Vermont and elsewhere has many strong opponents as well as strong advocates. Many of the reasons offered by both sides are valid; many are not. I don’t believe many doubt our need to develop and foster alternate energy sources; the devil is in how thoughtfully this is done. Off-the-press news on the recently started Lowell “industrial” wind farm about the inability to absorb adequately and distribute the wind-produced energy score the need to avoid a stampede to “build it at all costs.” Wind turbines will have their place here. There will also be many places where they will not be practical.
They are large (on any scale). While beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder, they are very in-your-face structures compared to – say – rooftop solar panels. Hard to “landscape” them out of view. They are not cheap. There are maintenance costs and issues and we know Vermont’s winter climate is not kind to outdoor machinery. Just look at how often many of the articulated solar panels along Route 100 are inoperative.
I suspect that many hastily approved and constructed units might well be found not productive once up and running. One planning commission member made a wise suggestion that provision might be made to require decommissioning units not in operation for a certain amount of time. That would be costly, so best to plan twice and spend once, rather than the reverse.
The suggestion to start the process with a thorough examination of wind energy potential is excellent. A follow-up process to rule out of consideration certain sensitive areas is needed. A good understanding of the overt physiological effects on people from nearby turbine operation is necessary. There is a lot of literature available on this, much controversial. While the discussion here is not on the mega-turbines, is it proper to permit location of any large constantly-in-movement equipment that would be capable of operating 24/7 25 feet inside someone’s property line (typical setback for construction on a lot) in a relatively concentrated residential or other area? What if half (not all) the neighbors decided to follow suit?
I am sure many other caveats will be raised. I again applaud your sense of thoroughness on this. Thank you for your efforts to craft sensible policy.