Skip to content


February 1, 2013

VPR/John Dillon
Luanne Therrien of Sheffield reads a statement from her phone describing health problems she says her family has suffered from nearby wind turbine noise.
Activists concerned about ridge line wind development descended on the Statehouse Thursday to make their case for a three year moratorium on the projects.

The moratorium has some support in the state Senate. But its prospects in the House are much less certain.

The rally against large-scale wind came a day after global warming activist Bill McKibben lectured at the Vermont House. McKibben said Vermont and the planet can’t afford to have a time out on carbon-free power projects.

“We need to be doing all we can on every front and with real purchase and dispatch,” McKibben told a packed House.

But opponents, such as Caledonia Senator Joe Benning, seemed determined not to let McKibben have the last word.

“I am very much looking forward to what you are about to hear,” Benning told the anti-wind rally. “Because what you are about to hear is the twirling sound of David with his sling approaching Goliath.”

Following Benning to the microphones was a wind project neighbor who complained about health impacts from turbine noise, and local officials who said wind developers often ignore the wishes of local towns.

Lisa Wright Garcia is from Rutland County, where Reunion Energy has looked at erecting wind turbines on the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline.

“I’ve long considered myself an environmentalist. And I have to take issue with the environmentalists who are jumping on the bandwagon of this as the magic bullet to fix global warming,” she said. “They’re looking at things in a very black and white way. They’re not giving this the scrutiny it needs to have.”

A detailed environmental perspective came from Steve Young, a biologist from Wolcott and a founder of the Center for Northern Studies. Young told a Senate committee earlier in the day that he’s spent four decades studying the long term impacts of climate change. Young said he’s not opposed to large-scale wind. But he said the mountain ridgelines targeted by developers in Vermont are largely intact ecosystems that should be protected, not damaged by road-building and habitat loss.

“The damage is physical in terms of geological and hydrologic effects. It’s biological in that it destroys critical habitat and migration routes,” he said. “And it’s aesthetic and cultural, not least in that it has caused deep divisions in the environmental community. These divisions play directly into the hands of corporate interests whose roots are outside Vermont.”

Mainstream Vermont environmental groups are opposed to the moratorium.

So is Renewable Energy Vermont, the trade association for the industry. Executive Director Gabrielle Stebbins said a moratorium will send a message to developers and investors that Vermont does not want their business. And Stebbins characterized the opposition as a vocal minority.

“It is not the bulk of Vermonters. It is under a thousand Vermonters,” she said. “Not that that doesn’t matter. It does matter. But the important thing is the interest of the broader public good, which is how we do energy in our state.”

While there’s support in the Senate for the moratorium, leaders in the House are skeptical. East Montpelier Democrat Tony Klein chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He said he’s open to discussing the issues behind the moratorium proposal.

“But to just say stop the music for three years, it doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

The anti-big wind group Energize Vermont also released its own plan for renewable energy development. It calls for more reliance on both in-state and out of state hydro power.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. vanessa permalink
    August 11, 2013 11:00 pm

    For anyone coming late, into this contentious issue around the industrial-scale wind development of ridgelines and the moratorium not supported by Tony Klein, I’d like to take an opportunity to comment on a statement made by him, in the article above. The article reads: “East Montpelier Democrat Tony Klein chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He said he’s open to discussing the issues behind the moratorium proposal. ‘But to just say stop the music for three years, it doesn’t make sense to me,’ he said. ”

    Surely he understood that the moratorium was more than a roadblock!! For myself and for any activists I know, a moratorium was seen as a necessary opportunity to adequately study impacts and issues of concern, and to provide a timeframe for ongoing public discourse. The process is flawed, however ages old. PSB meetings and the system in which these ‘work’ are geared so that the public is not participatory. Meetings are at times of day when folks have to work; and generally folks cannot ask for extended time-off to actively particpate. Participation can be expensive for public, as well. And time to retool this process is needed. The very processes of legislation also take time.

    THEN you have the time needed for Vermont to properly address just some of the many important reasons involving siting issues. Not the least of which is public health and safety concerns. And some of these are centered around noise and how this impacts sleep quality of those living too close to turbine sites. Since these oversized turbines are new to Vermont; and since this concept of cementing them deeply into ridges/ridgerock geology is new to Vermont, these studies will be inconclusive UNTIL these studies are long-enough-term to gather data about ALL variabilities and variables! This homework was imposssible to do correctly beforehand, BEFORE installing this grand-scale folly in Vermont.
    In order for studies NOW
    to be conclusive and protective enough of people living too close, all the data must be objectively gathered and objectively & completely factored in. Studies must be done in such a way that stakeholders cannot manipulate the data in any way, not by physical manipulations of the sound-producing subject, nor by scrubbing & gleaning the collected data, NOR by paying the data-collecting companies/individuals.

    Also, seasonal variabilities must be accounted for and how these affect noise: fog, snow on blades, ice on blades, snow on terrain, humidity factors, EXTREMELY high wind/storms, etc. Undulating terrain, the degree of undulation, proximity to bodies of water, and also any echo-producing physical aspects of the terrain are all factors! Structures’ existence on such terrain and relative/corelative location of these structures must also be factored in. These must be weighed in together and also at varying degrees within the whole context! The proximity of structures anchored into the same geology as that of over-large vibration-producing structures, is an important factor. Also very relevant is the issue the vibrations and low-frequency sound of wind turbines have upon living beings who are sleeping/living inside and/or/both outside buildings of close proximity to vibration-creating/noise-making structures.

    The Governor’s belatedly-appointed siting commission needed more time to gather all this data fairly and properly and with due justice. And it cannot be done haphazardly and within a ‘build ’em as fast as we can’ context as Shumlin dictated. If the individuals worked hard to gather comprehensively, and I’m not saying here that they didn’t, then I am saying they had a time limit imposed by the governor and some other powers-that-be. Pulling together an energy siting commission seemed more like an item on a checklist, that Shumlin forgot to consider from the onset! (Isn’t siting a PRELIMINARY STEP anyway? It is for the rest of us.)
    So I’m going as far as to say that the Therriens, and the Nelsons, and other impacted wind project neighbors are now the guinea pigs. Shumlin and Blittersdorf and Powell and Burns will never have to live next to an industrial-scale wind project unless they choose to do so. Their children will never have to deal with the impacts of day-to-day, permanent residence that is too close to any wind project, unless they choose to do so. They can afford a cherry-picked opportunity. The Therriens, on the other hand, are in a bind. And the Nelsons are fighting for their property rights and their health.

    The moratorium would give time for adequate, obejctive, comprehensive study.
    It does not make economic, social, nor environmental sense to attempt to address energy solutions that are wrongly-sited, wrongly-scaled and wrongly-scoped for this small state.
    The moratorium would give time and space to further study Big Wind, while perhaps hopefully allowing folks to see what could be done with regard to efficiency and conservation and perhaps even solar-powered solutions.

  2. vanessa permalink
    August 11, 2013 11:19 pm

    I might also add to my comment that weatherization and supporting of local merchants and local farmers and creating shifts for local food promotion/education/affordability could be part of what cuts into CO2 emissions production too. These things need more attention, to see what happens, when we promote and practice them.

    A strength Vermont surely has is its small size and scale. This should be promoted and protected and preserved, across the board. Resources such as local food, clean water, enough water, clean air, and quality-of-life (I’m calling this a resource too, yes!) are vitally important ,and not to be discounted, in Vermont. Protect and preserve and conserve the strengths and assets we have. Protect our small scale Vermont character. It just may hold the key to our Vermont solutions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: