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Get the facts on wind

April 26, 2012

http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120425/OPINION03/704259975/

Published: April 25, 2012

I am writing about the proposed wind tower project at Grandpa’s Knob/Pittsford Ridge in West Rutland, Castleton, Hubbardton, Pittsford.

Let me say at the outset that I originally thought wind towers were a reasonable, viable option, but now that I have done my research and learned more, I have changed my mind. The more I learn and know, the more fearful I become that too many of us will believe, have believed, the rhetoric and not become knowledgeable before forming an opinion.

Having said that, let me tell you some of what I have learned.

This project is not similar to your quaint Holland-type windmills that look cute and storybook. They are not even equal to the ones that are currently in the town of Searsburg, approximately 180 feet each. This project is massive in scale to a point that most of us cannot even comprehend. The proposal is 20 towers that are 492 feet tall with three blades that are 180 feet each. To put this in perspective, imagine looking at the mountain range and seeing 20 fifty-story buildings perched on top of a six-mile stretch. Once they are approved and in business, more and more will come.

The infrastructure needed to build and maintain these towers on a ridgeline would require explosives (1 million pounds) and tearing away of the top of our ridge lines to create roads and sites for these massive structures. This will cause damage and fall-out from blasting, not to mention the effects on the ridgeline.

Hunting and bird watching will change, in addition to the limitations required by the “buffer zones.” Wildlife habitats will change due to this; studies show that the noise and vibration affects the types of plants and animals that will stay and survive in the area. For an area and state in general that prides itself and economically sustains itself on hunting, mountains, and the observation of wildlife, this could affect our way of life in many ways. The Agency of Natural Resources has already said no to this particular project due to the wildlife habitats that exist in the area.

The developers and the big businesses make money from this project, but typical taxpayers and homeowners will not see a trickle-down effect from this. Developers receive tax incentives and stand to gain income. Taxpayers may (and this is a big maybe) see a small decrease in their municipal tax for a year or two, which will be offset and shortly overcome by lower property resale values and people vacating the area, thus creating higher taxes for all, change in our rural life as we know it, health issues to animals and people in the area, and according to studies, electricity rates are actually driven up by these projects because the intermittent and variable nature of the wind causes more use of energy to power up and down.

If you go to any of their presentations, you will be told by the developer and by those that are already “sold” on the idea about the benefits of this project. From the research I have done to date, every so-called benefit has a huge price to pay by the people in area, many of which we are not informed about or are misled about. If you think you are not in the area because you are not directly under the site or can’t see it from your house, think again. Even the “buffer zones” drawn on the map and site plan encompass most of the town area and bear in mind that this is their “buffer zone.” Who is to say how far the true lines of affected areas lie?

While I might normally be the one that is happy saying “I told you so,” in this case, I will just be very, very sad if that is what happens.

Please join me to gain knowledge so you can form your own opinion:

April 26: “Windfall,” movie presentation, West Rutland Town Hall, 7 p.m.

May 14: 6 p.m., presentation by developer from Reunion Power at West Rutland Town Hall.

Please visit this website and watch the video attached: http://vermontenergyoptions.org/.

Christie Wright is a resident of West Rutland.

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