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Grandpa’s Knob: the costs

April 5, 2012

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20120405/OPINION03/704059986/1039/OPINION03

April 5, 2012

To all my neighbors in Rutland County, and particularly those in the towns of West Rutland, Pittsford, Castleton and Hubbardton, I am writing in an effort to engage all of you in the discussion regarding the Grandpa’s Knob wind project. Some of you may be in support of this, some may be opposed, some may be on the fence regarding your opinion, some may believe that their local elected officials will make the right decisions on this and some of you may know nothing about this project. This project appears to be well on its way to the Public Service Board, and once it gets there, we will not have a meaningful voice in whether this happens or not.

I could write to you concerning the very high environmental costs of the project, the impracticalities of ridgetop development, the aesthetics of the project, or the economic inefficiencies of wind in Vermont; but instead I’d like you to tune your attention to channel WIIFM or “What’s In It For Me?”

The answer to that question is not positive. You can expect to receive the following from this project, should it be completed:

1) Lower property values. Wind turbines will have a negative impact on property values as the average potential buyer will find a property within hearing, and likely even within sight, of these turbines to be less valuable. Even if you don’t intend to sell your property, this will affect the value if you choose to re-finance, or if you would like your children to inherit a property of some value.

2) Minimal local jobs. The wind developers involved will hire few local contractors, as they will import specialized staff, enormous specialized equipment and cheaper labor from outside of the state of Vermont. Vermont jobs will be low-pay, custodial type of work.

3) Possibly higher taxes, for several reasons: While the wind project might be seen as providing local tax revenue, these companies will receive tax breaks from the state and federal government, and local officials will have no control over setting the assessments for these projects. Lower property values throughout town will likely create a higher tax rate as the grand list may be overall lower and those properties that might retain value will be paying for the areas of town that have lost significant value. Finally, the exodus of people, particularly people with better economic means, will mean lower enrollment in our local schools which drives the tax rate upward as well.

4) Division among friends, families and neighbors in your town. Towns that have “hosted” these projects have found that they pitted neighbor against neighbor and tore apart community in these towns. Towns that are host towns for these projects will be “have not” towns as compared to the “have” towns even more than they are currently.

5) Finally, the legacy we will leave to our children. We can’t ever take this back. It is very possible that this will be a very expensive, failed experiment which will be abandoned in 20 years or less, leaving our children to view the wreckage of our ridgelines, with no economic benefit whatsoever. Repowering after a decade with even larger turbines is common practice and means that once they go up, they may never come down. And when they do, the destruction wrought on the mountain’s ecology will take thousands of years to recover.

Lisa Wright Garcia is a lister for the town of West Rutland.

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