Thousands against ruined mountaintops
To the Editor:
I read with interest the latest letter to the editor from Vermont Electric Co-op CEO David Hallquist. According to him, the protesters on Lowell Mountain are a small minority who are hindering the progress of the Lowell wind farm. Actually, these hardy individuals do, in fact, represent thousands of Kingdom residents who resent having our mountaintops ruined for the sake of corporate greed. As an afterthought, maybe we could interest the "occupy" movement to actually embrace a real cause. Then the police could escort hundreds of hardened criminals off the mountain, not just a couple of idealistic students.
It should be obvious by now that resistance to the Lowell project is just the tip of the iceberg. In the last couple of weeks we have heard of at least three other planned wind farms; north of Lyndonville, Eden Mountain, and east of Island Pond in Essex county. If this trend continues, as it must to meet the legislature and governor's ambitious plan for renewable energy that he has ramrodded through, the entire state of Vermont will be home to these monstrosities. They will be strung the entire length of the State at high altitudes. It is next to criminal to ruin our beautiful state for the sake of a temporary and environmentally damaging source of energy. We have to ask ourselves, is it worth the damage to our state, and is it for the public good?
Mr Hallquist threatens that if the Lowell project is delayed beyond 2012 our rates will go up. With renewable energy costing 25-30 cents per KW hour, how can our rates do anything but increase? I personally would pay much more to protect our mountains from destruction.
The opposition of commercial wind development is about much more than money. It is unimaginable to me to look at wind farms in every direction. As it is, between the Lowell and Sheffield farms, windmills will be visible from most of the Kingdom. This cannot possibly be in the public good as the PSB has stated. How can they ever again possibly disapprove a project based on aesthetics? They have created a great credibility gap with this decision. This group seems to follow the whims of the legislature and the governor in most decisions. They are supposed to be working for us, the public.
Mr Hallquist is correct that the Lowell wind project jumped through all the permitting hoops required. But, with the legislature-approved fast tracking permit process, one has to wonder if perhaps the hoops got to be just a little bit too wide!
The people of Lowell overwhelmingly approved the Lowell project. Ironically, their view shed is the least affected of all their neighbors.
I attended the public hearing at the Lowell school where many people testified. I think the testimonies were about split between Lowell residents and others. All the Lowell testimonies except two or three were for the project. All other testimonies except two or three were in opposition. One has to wonder at the vast philosophical differences between Lowell residents and their closest neighbors. Are they that much more informed? Are they much better educated? Are they much more "green minded"? Could a $500,000 per year payment be relevant? Interesting subject.
We less enlightened Kingdom residents who dread seeing our precious mountains defiled can only hope that the current fervor continues into the next election when we will have a chance to send King Shumlin packing. Only then can we hope for a little balance in our state policies.
Until then, I will look at the Lowell Mountain protesters as the modern day "Green Mountain Boys" and not as deterrents to big business.