Is wind power worth it?
To the Editor:
Without intensive studies of impacts to the natural environment of wildlife, birds and bats that would have been required under Act 250 regulators are, in a sense, shooting in the dark when it comes to protecting wildlife from industrial wind projects in Vermont. environment concerns will never be a top priority of the Public Service Board's regulatory process.
Where will the bears go? After an unwelcome visit of a family of bears to the governor's backyard bird feeders, state officials decided to study our bear population. It appears that state officials have no idea what the size of the bear population is in Vermont. Bears, losing habitat and the beech trees they thrive on, will forage for food elsewhere. Displaced bears from industrial wind projects could be a growing concern for the state. The Sheffield Wind Project is just beginning to run studies on bears, when the very presence of the wind turbines on the ridgeline has disrupted their habitat. The wind project on the Lowell ridgeline and proposals for more wind projects are seriously threatening bear and other wildlife habitat.
Green Mountain Power, with the help of the Agency of Natural Resources; is attempting to set aside land to mitigate the destruction of wildlife habitat caused by the wind project. Bears were almost an afterthought in the rush to meet a deadline to meet one condition of the Certificate of Public Good. With lost bear habitat from the Lowell Wind Project, bears coming out of hibernation will be forced to travel through a very busy maple sugaring operation with thousands of fee of plastic tubing and then after than an active forestry operation.
Before construction began on the Lowell Wind Project, experts in the field warned that the unproven design of the stormwater controls would be prone to failure. Without a storm it would be difficult to tell if stormwater controls put in place to control the volume and quality of water are working or not. Making sure the new roads on the ridgeline are intact is a big concern for GMP. The state on the other hand has an obligation and duty to look further down the mountain where flooding reeked havoc on May 29. In the aftermath of the clear-cutting and road construction on the 175-acre properties leased by GMP for their wind project, will residents living in the shadow of the ridgeline be subjected to flooding every time there is a major storm event like the one on May 29? Will the blasted mountain silt and erosion of clear-cut ridgelines reach water supplies in the villages of Lowell and Albany? That is the real test of whether stormwater controls put in place at the time of construction are doing what they were intended to.
The decimation of wildlife habitat and the quality of life of neighbors close to these wind projects should make more reasonable people wonder if these projects are such a great idea. Are these the kinds of "trade-offs" proponents and developers of Big Wind think we should be making?
Richard H. Rumery
Newport Center, Vt.