Articles, Editorials, Commentaries, Letters to the Editor about Wind Energy in New England
In Chronological Order, from newest to oldest -- Sept. 7 to Dec 1, 2002
Rutland Herald/Times Argus
Sunday, December 1, 2002
Cover story: Blowin in the wind
Wind energy is quickly becoming feasible in Vermonts upper elevations
By ROBIN PALMER
Vermonts farmers of the future could be harvesting wind.
Local renewable energy advocates say Vermonts mountaintops are ripe for wind farms. Ten, 20, 30, 40, 50, even 80 percent of the states electricity, say the real optimists, could come from black-and-white wind turbines Vermonts new Holsteins spinning on modern-day mountaintop farms.
And while their owners arent likely to be dairy farmers, individuals such as dairy farmers and financially struggling ski area owners may profit from leased land to electric companies.
Jobs and a new industry will be created, and some of the $1 billion shipped out-of-state annually to buy energy will stay at home as the blades of windmills spin profitability back into Vermonts hills.
This is the vision, and it can be the reality, advocates say if, and only if, Vermonters are willing to look at 200-foot towers climbing into the sky, blades dozens of feet long whirling in the breeze.
While wind power got its start in Vermont, less than a dozen large turbines turn on Vermont mountaintops today.
Wind energy has been used for thousands of years around the world, according to Renewable Energy Vermont, a trade organization for renewable energy companies in Vermont.
As early as 5000 BCE, wind propelled boats along the Nile River. The Persians used wind to grind corn 4,000 years ago, the Dutch drained lakes and marshes with power from windmills and, during the late 19th century, windmills pumped water for farms and ranches in the American West, according to Renewable Energy Vermont.
But it was in a town west of Rutland, that wind power was first put on the electric grid. Grandpas Knob in Castleton was the site of the worlds first utility-scale wind turbine. Known as the Smith-Putnam turbine, it was built for Central Vermont Public Service in 1941 for $1.25 million. The turbine provided power for the electric grid for only several years, before being damaged by weather and eventually torn apart said CVPS spokesman Steve Costello, adding, it was kind of an experimental thing. The Grandpas Knob wind turbine was never rebuilt, and since then, 26 other states and 60 nations have started wind energy projects.
Countries such as Denmark, Germany and Spain have surpassed the U.S. in the area of wind, even though the technology to create energy with wind turbines was created in the U.S., said Andrew Perchlik, executive director and cofounder of Renewable Energy Vermont. Germany, for example, produces twice the wind energy of all of North America. Denmark, according to David Blittersdorf, vice chairman of REV, produces more than 15 percent of its electrical needs from wind, and a recent study found that the country could provide 10 percent of the worlds electricity needs or enough energy for 500 million average European homes by 2017.
In the U.S., wind has the potential to meet 40 percent of the nations electrical needs. Currently, it provides less than 1 percent, however, said Blittersdorf.
The U.S. generates more than 4,250 megawatts of wind power, or enough power to meet the need of one million average households. Indeed, the worlds largest wind installations are located in the U.S. in states such as Texas, Washington and California.
Vermont faces an obvious challenge its peaks and valleys. But Vermonts windy mountaintops and mountainsides particularly those between 2,500 and 3,500 feet above sea level are well suited for wind farms, local experts say. We have a very good wind source in Vermont, said Perchlik. Vermont could easily produce 10 percent of its electricity from wind.
Vermonts power companies draw their power primarily from nuclear and hydro sources. About a third of the states power comes from Vermont Yankee; a third from Hydro-Quebec; and another third from a mix of smaller, in-state hydro plants, wood chips and the New England power grid, which is mostly natural gas piped to power plants in southern New England, Perchlik said.
Unlike some other renewables, wind however is gaining in popularity. Its the fastest growing energy source worldwide, said Perchlik. And it has been for more than a decade, growing by about 20 percent each year.
Its growth is a result of its dropping price. The cost to produce wind has dropped 80 percent in recent years, said Bob Charlebois, managing director of Rutlands Catamount Energy Corp., which is owned by CVPS. Wind at this point is more or less competitive with a new natural gas plant.
In 1980, the cost of wind was 38 cents a kilowatt-hour, said Lawrence Mott, director of the renewable integration group of Northern Power. Northern Power is a Waitsfield company that got its start in 1974 refurbishing old windmills from the Midwest for household use in Vermont, following the oil embargo of 1973. Now the company is developing two wind turbines, among other energy systems, and working with individuals such as Montpelier wind farm developer Matthew Rubin to study potential wind sites.
Today, the cost of wind is about 5.8 cents a kilowatt-hour, as compared to natural gas at about 4 cents a kilowatt-hour, Perchlik said. In some other states, such as Texas, the cost of wind is closer to 3 cents. The cost of wind can also be compared to other renewable meaning inexhaustible energies such as solar, which remains three times the cost of wind, said Blittersdorf.
The cost of wind is down, because wind turbine equipment has become more reliable, and practice and cheaper materials have driven down the cost of production, said Mott.
Many believe wind will soon be the cheapest power source in Vermont, as once a wind farm is built, the cost is fixed while the price of fuels is on the rise. Rubin is among them. Wind power is real, said Rubin. By 2005 or sooner, wind will be the cheapest source of electricity. Period.
Wind also has the potential to make money for the state. A study done by Doug Hoffer for Renewable Energy Vermont in October analyzes the profitability and feasibility of wind. Hoffer found that it would take 152 large turbines, those that create 1.5 megawatts of power, to produce 10 percent of the states energy, with development taking place over a 10-year period. The power would be clean, safe, renewable and less expensive than fuel-burning generation over a 20-year period, wrote Hoffer.
The turbines, spread over a half-dozen farms, would cost $342 million to build, of which $152 million would be spent in Vermont on goods and services. The development phase, which would last about four years, would create 140 jobs. The construction phase would take another six years and create about 300 jobs. Operation of the turbines going forward would create 40 high-paying jobs. Annually, the six wind farms would pay $2.7 million to landowners, $2.2 million in property taxes and $700,000 in state taxes, Hoffer found. Finally, wrote Hoffer, the wind farms would be located primarily in mountainous and thinly-populated areas, where economic development is most needed.
Perchlik hopes the state starts on those wind farms now before contracts with Vermont Yankee and Hydro-Quebec run out in 2012 and 2015, respectively. We kind of think the time to act is now, Perchlik said.
Mott agreed. I think it is really important not to stick our heads in the sand, he said. We could actually be a net exporter of power if we want to, he said.
Work toward that goal of 10 percent has already begun. There are 11 larger installations, what the industry calls large wind, and about a dozen smaller wind turbines providing power to residences in Vermont, Perchlik said.
Blittersdorf, the president and chief executive officer of NRG Systems Inc. in Hinesburg, is one of those individuals. A 10-kilowatt turbine provides more than half the power for his Charlotte home. The turbine cost him $35,000 to erect, he said.
Green Mountain Power, Vermonts second largest electric utility after CVPS, has the only operating large wind farm in the state. NRG Systems, which makes wind-measuring equipment, towers and software, did all the measurements for GMPs Searsburg project. All 11 large wind turbines in the state are on Mount Waldo in Searsburg between 2,700 and 2,900 feet, said Dorothy Schnure, GMPs spokeswoman.
GMP actually started researching the potential for wind back in the late 70s, said Schnure. A decade later, the company had two test turbines on Mount Equinox in Manchester. They truly were intended for testing and learning, she said.
What GMP learned was that ice built up on the blades of the turbines, so when the company built Searsburg in 1997, it made the wind turbines fiberglass blades black to attract the suns warmth. The turbines also have a solid white pole supporting the blades and rotor, rather than the old lattice towers that attracted birds. Bird mortality was once a problem with wind turbines, said Schnure, but now without a place to perch, the problem has been eliminated.
A second concern at Searsburg was with bears. The towers were placed in a bear corridor, Schnure said. Like the birds, however, the bears have not been a problem. The bears in fact seem to like to the open space to walk created by the turbines. The one remaining problem is that lightning has destroyed the blades and they have had to be replaced.
The Searsburg project on Mount Waldo was meant to answer some questions regarding wind turbines, especially in cold climates. Federal Department of Energy and Electrical Power Research Institute grants totaling $4 million helped pay for the $11 million project. The $4 million made the project affordable. We made this plant a research facility for the first three years of operation, so what we learned from building this plant we shared with the industry, Schnure said.
At about $1 million each, the turbines are 132 feet tall. The blades on the turbine are 60 feet long, stretching the tower to 192 feet, Schnure said. Because the turbines are less than 200 feet they do not need to be lighted.
The turbines produce six megawatts of power, or enough electricity for 2,000 homes. The power source makes up about .5 percent of Green Mountains power mix of 37.4 percent Hydro-Quebec, 30.8 percent Vermont Yankee, 23.9 percent market purchases, 3.2 percent wood, 2.2 percent gas and 2 percent oil, saving 23,400 barrels of oil a year, Schnure estimates. Our goal is to have a reliable, low-cost fuel mix, she said. With 41 percent renewable energy (hydro, wood chips and wind) we take into consideration that Vermonters like clean energy.
Plans are now under consideration that would double the Searsburg plant.
Other existing turbines include smaller windmills in Burlington and South Burlington. The federal Department of Energy supplied the city of Burlington with $70,000 to build an 80-foot wind turbine that produces enough power for about eight homes; the DOE and National Renewable Energy Laboratory worked with Dynapower Corp. in South Burlington to create a 50-kilowatt turbine to partially power Dynapowers manufacturing facility.
Besides the Searsburg expansion, three other larger projects are planned as well. Catamount is working on two projects for CVPS at Little Mount Equinox in Manchester and at Magic Mountain ski resort in Londonderry on Glebe Mountain, said Charlebois. The Mount Equinox project is further along. The site of two previous turbine projects, including GMPs experiment in the 1980s, Equinox is proposed to have five turbines generating nine megawatts of power, or enough for 4,000 homes. The Magic Mountain project could include up to 27 turbines, creating 50 megawatts of power, Charlebois said
Catamount and CVPS plan to apply for Vermont Public Service Board approval before years end and provide energy by early 2004, Charlebois said. Burlington Electric Department plans to buy the power that will meet about 7 percent of the citys needs.
With projects in Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom, Catamount began developing solely wind projects about a year-and-a-half ago. We think wind power is absolutely consistent with Vermonts image of being an environmentally friendly state, Charlebois said.
Wind is clearly on the front burner. There seems to be a tremendous amount of support of development of wind in Vermont, agreed Costello. Personally, I think its an elegant solution to energy needs. CVPS gets about 45 percent of its electricity annually from hydro sources, including 20 of its own hydro plants; 10 percent from two wood chip plants in Ryegate and Burlington; about 40 percent from Vermont Yankee and 2 percent from oil.
Like CVPS, Rubin owns hydroelectric plants. His plants in East Montpelier and Winooski supply 1 percent of Vermonts electricity needs, he said. Although he previously knew little about wind, he is developing the East Haven Wind Farm on East Mountain in East Haven because he sees the potential of wind, he said.
Rubin is proposing 10 turbines generating 15 megawatts, or enough power for 10,000 households, to be built in 2005 at 3,400 feet on East Mountain on an old U.S. Air Force radar base. Built to monitor Russian bombers coming over the North Pole but abandoned in 1962 when the government moved the monitoring equipment to a site in Canada, the base once housed 400 men, said Rubin. The site is ideal for a wind farm because it has a 10-mile paved road to the summit.
So far, said Rubin, the project has been attractive to tiny East Haven because it would generate some major property tax money for the town, would be virtually invisible and would open up the access road to snowmobilers.
Wed sell it to any utility who wanted to buy it, said Rubin, and we believe it would be the least expensive form of an energy anyone can buy.
Advocates say there are, in fact, few negatives to wind. Wind is local, employs local people and pays local taxes. It never runs out. According to Renewable Energy Vermont, U.S. winds could generate more electricity in 15 years than all of Saudi Arabias oil without being depleted.
Wind would provide price control and reduce the states dependence on other states and countries for oil, uranium and natural gas. It does not cause pollution such as global warming and acid rain, said Rubin, and clearly no terrorist is going to trying to blow up a wind turbine. Wind turbines also are quieter and arguably more attractive than they once were.
My sense is, its the only way to go. Theres no carbon dioxide to affect the climate, theres no air pollution, Rubin said.
And then theres the money. Mainly, we think its going to be great for our economy, and its at our peril that we dont pursue renewables, namely wind, Perchlik said.
The main negative is the aesthetics. Aesthetics is the only question, said Rubin. The interesting thing about that is people who dont like them have never seen them.
Blittersdorf agreed. Some people are scared of the visual impact of wind, Blittersdorf said. The visual part is what scares them, but what were trying to get across is the numbers (opposed are) not the majority. Its the minority.
Surveys seem to prove that point. A survey done before and after Searsburg was built showed area residents actually became more accepting after they saw the turbines spinning. And a survey released on Nov. 20 by ORC Macro found that 79 percent of Vermonters consider wind turbines beautiful or acceptable. Only 9 percent of the 400 people interviewed thought they were unacceptable and 7 percent said they were ugly, while 11 percent found them beautiful.
As projects are proposed and wind power discussed, groups like the Green Mountain Club, Appalachian Trail Conference and Forest Watch have raised concerns. A hotel manager in Manchester was also concerned the Little Mount Equinox turbines would negatively affect business, said Perchlik. The Appalachian Trail Conference, a nonprofit group of volunteers dedicated to protecting the Appalachian Trail, has even posted a statement opposing a proposed wind farm in western Maine on its Web site.
The towers as high as a 40-story building would be visible for about four days of hiking on the trail They would appear to crawl across the ranges by day as the blades whirled and to be like little lightning strokes at night, as their strobe beacons alerted airplanes to their presence, destroying any illusion of remoteness, the ATC website reads. Moreover, to install this industrial facility, the fragile, forested ridge tops of the Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain to the west would have to be clear-cut in places and scarred further by about 12 miles of roads and perhaps 10 miles of transmission lines.
Land access is a concern, noted Mott. It does take miles of road and transmission lines to reach mountaintops where the wind blows and development has traditionally been scarce.
A third concern is ice. Wind turbines must be placed below 3,500 feet because of ice build up. The ice buildup throws off the turbines aerodynamics, Mott said. Turbines cannot be placed too close to ski areas or hiking trails as football-sized chunks of ice have been found to fly hundreds of feet off the rotating blades, said David Grover, renewable energy policy and projects coordinator for Vermont Department of Public Service. The state Public Service Board reviews wind projects under Section 248 of Title 30. Section 248 includes most of the Act 250 criteria, including the criteria on aesthetics but also weighs this concern against public need. Wind turbines do not need local permit approvals.
Mott suggests that education regarding wind turbines would enhance public acceptance. People are often not willing to accept what they dont understand, just like the automobile was cursed at when it first arrived, he said. Another issue with wind is that it is not constant, and the energy it creates cannot be stored at utility-sized scale, noted Avram Patt, general manager of Washington Electric Co-op. From a utility point of view, wind comes and goes, he said.
The biggest hurdle transcends all the others. There arent many negatives with wind, said Blittersdorf. The main obstacle is really some leadership.
Wind proponents such as Renewable Energy Vermont and Blittersdorf want tax credits for small wind and solar systems, a minimum percentage of energy generated to come from renewables, an increase in research funding to drop the price of wind energy further and a reduction in government subsidies that create artificially low prices for oil.
While other states rebate individual buyers up to 50 percent of the cost of their home systems, Vermont offers only a 5-percent sales tax exemption for wind equipment, said Blittersdorf.
A second state law, called net metering, allows home system owners to send electricity back into the grid when the wind is blowing and take from the grid when it is not, effectively reducing ones electrical bill to nothing, said Grover.
A bill, brought before the Vermont Legislature by the Public Service Department this year, would have required utilities to increase the amount of renewable energy they use by 2007. It passed in the Senate but failed in the House.
The state, however, has come out in favor of wind power. A 2001 document called the Governors Energy Initiate proposes meeting the states 1- to 2-percent yearly growth in power demand in part through renewable energy sources.
The Public Service Departments wind-energy plan is a bit more aggressive. The 1998 report, Fueling Vermonts Future, recommends exploring wood and wind-power generation for replacing Vermont Yankee. Vermont should vigorously pursue policies to encourage cost-effective development of wood, biomass and wind energy, the authors wrote. The PSD also calls wind power a renewable, sustainable and environmentally sound energy source.
On the national front, a 1.8-cent production tax credit is being offered for wind, and federal dollars have come back to Vermont for wind research and development. Not a moment too soon, says Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who brought $940,000 into the state for Washington Electric Co-op to start a wind project. Sanders, who has been an advocate of renewable energy since his days as mayor of Burlington, plans to bring another $1 million into the state for another project he would not name and said he envisions 20 percent of Vermonts energy coming from wind within the next 10 years, insisting that his vision is realistic.
Vermont is not the best state in the country in terms of wind, but we are better than average, Sanders said.
Wind intermittent, so is progress on wind power
By David Gram, Associated Press, 11/30/2002 12:05
EAST MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (AP) Tom Halnon is an engineer by training, and likes to use his hands to fix problems. He built a garage with an apartment over it and lived with his wife and two children in it for years as he worked on the family's dream house a few yards away.
When the problem was high electric bills, Halnon took a hands-on approach to fixing that, too. He searched around the region until he found a deal on a used wind turbine and, with the help of NRG Systems, a wind energy firm in Hinesburg, set out to install a power-generating windmill on his 62-acre parcel on a hill above the North Branch of the Middlebury River.
The plan was to take advantage of Vermont's ''net metering'' law, which allows small, homegrown power systems to send power to the local utility grid and let their meter run backward, lowering the electric bill all the way.
But to do that, Halnon had to get approval from the Public Service Board, under the same law that covers review of large-scale power plants.
A Pennsylvania couple with a vacation home across the road objected, saying Halnon's windmill would spoil their view. Similar complaints came from other neighbors; both the Public Service Board and, this year, the Vermont Supreme Court, agreed with the opponents that a 100-foot-tall pole with blades spinning on top in a 23-foot-diameter circle would be ''shocking and offensive.''
Meanwhile, the town of Middlebury gave Halnon a zoning permit. He decided he didn't need to do net metering and therefore didn't need the Public Service Board's approval. He put up the windmill and is using it to power his house, with excess heating a hot water tank that feeds the radiant heat in his floors.
Halnon is not a big fan of the Public Service Board, and uses the board's own language to criticize what he sees as inadequate planning for the next decade, when contracts to buy power from Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee expire.
''Leaving the state uncertain about its energy future to me is what's shocking and offensive,'' he said.
But Halnon's a little clearer about his family's energy future. His windmill is up and running intermittently, as the wind blows.
Intermittent might be a good word as well to describe Vermont's progress on developing what many see as a key to serving its future energy needs. Improvements in wind-power technology have helped lower the price of electricity made from wind from as much as 40 cents per kilowatt-hour two decades ago to around 6 cents today. That makes wind competitive with wholesale power prices around New England, which often run in the 4-cents to 5 cents per kwh range.
Hopes were high nearly a year ago when Gov. Howard Dean, ski and utility industry leaders gathered Jan. 9 at Killington to announce that U.S. Sen. James Jeffords had secured a $500,000 federal grant to study development of windmill sites at ski areas.
The talk that day was of ski areas taking a big bite out of their energy bills their second-biggest cost behind labor by using power from on-site windmills and selling any extra power to the regional power grid.
But that dream has run up against some harsh realities, both legal and economic. The scenario envisioned in January would have amounted to relatively large-scale net metering, but a 1997 Vermont law says no net-metering project can generate more than 15 kilowatts less than five-thousandths of one percent of Vermont's energy load. And it says that all the net metering projects in the state can't exceed 1 percent of the state's demand for electricity.
Without an ability to sell the excess power in the off season and when resorts' power demand isn't high, it is expected to be tough to get ski area windmills to pay for themselves.
But Christine Salembier, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said allowing ski area windmills to move power to the grid at will likely would leave Vermont's utilities with ''stranded costs,'' obligations under ongoing contracts to buy other power they no longer would need. Other ratepayers would have to pick up the bill, she said.
The upshot so far is that the $500,000 federal grant is in possession of Salembier's department and still waiting for distribution to grant applicants.
But the wind is blowing on other fronts. Green Mountain Power was the leader, commissioning Vermont's first and still only operating large-scale wind farm atop Searsburg Mountain in 1997. GMP is considering expanding its Searsburg project.
Now four other projects are in the works:
Catamount Energy, a subsidiary of Central Vermont Public Service, is proposing to spend $12 million on five wind turbines on Little Equinox Mountain in Manchester.
Catamount also is behind a plan to erect up to 27 wind turbines on Magic Mountain in Londonderry.
Matthew Rubin, a longtime independent power producer and hydroelectric dam proprietor, is proposing to build up to 10 turbines at a former U.S. Air Force radar base in East Haven.
And the Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, which buys and dispatches power for the state's municipal and cooperative utilities, recently made known plans to construct up to 30 wind turbines in the Lowell Mountain Range in a remote area of northern Vermont.
''Vermont has made a lot of progress on this topic in the past year,'' said Steve Costello, spokesman for CVPS. ''There's been a tremendous amount of consensus built. ... Everybody in the governor's race was talking about renewables. People seem very supportive of it.''
Bill Gallagher, general manager at VPPSA, acknowledged that wind power isn't as reliable as that generated using fossil fuels or nuclear fission because the wind doesn't blow all the time. But he said it's expected to work well in conjunction with another type of electric generation on which New England is becoming increasingly reliant: natural gas.
''One of the nice things about the gas-fired plants is that they can be throttled up and down pretty easily, unlike a nuclear plant,'' Gallagher said.
That means gas-fired plants, several of which are being built in southern New England, can respond more flexibly to changes in wind speeds. Conversely, by allowing gas- and other fossil-fuel-powered plants to be relied on less, wind can help limit their emissions.
That benefit is likely to make wind a winner, Gallagher said.
Massachusetts and Connecticut recently have enacted requirements that their utilities buy a set percentage of their power from newly developed renewable resources. Such ''green power'' is commanding a price premium of 3 cents per kwh over the market price.
''This state is constantly looking for products to export,'' he said. And green wind power is likely to be a growing part of its future.
Wind farm proposal decried by environmentalists
By Sonja Barisic, Associated Press, 11/30/2002 12:42
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) Proposals to build windmills off the Atlantic coast are meeting with resistance from environmentalists who might be expected to support an alternative, ''clean'' energy source.
Offshore wind farms exist in Europe but not in the United States. A company planning windmills off Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Delaware says the farms would provide energy without emitting greenhouse gases that pollute the air.
Environmental and wildlife groups argue, however, that the projects represent an offshore land grab of public property for private use. They also contend the farms will mar the natural beauty of the coastline, interfere with fishing, diminish property values, hurt recreation and tourism, and may prove harmful to migratory birds.
They'd prefer that the windmills be placed farther out than within a few miles of shore as proposed, in places where their effects would be minimized.
''I'm committed to wind energy, but you wouldn't put a wind farm in Yosemite Park,'' said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of the former U.S. attorney general and president of Waterkeeper Alliance, a New York environmentalist group.
Dennis Quaranta, president of Winergy LLC, based in Shirley, N.Y., said the critics are suffering from a case of NIMBY, or ''not in my back yard.''
''Everyone is a great environmentalist, until it's in their area,'' Quantara said. ''Then it's not in my back yard, not in my beach view, not in the ocean, not anywhere.''
That said, the company is willing to listen to and respond to objections, Quaranta said. Winergy recently removed three of four potential sites from its wind farm plan for Virginia after learning that the Navy was concerned because military operations take place there.
''We do listen to what people have to say,'' Quaranta said. ''We don't try to buck the system.''
In all, Winergy has identified about 20 offshore sites in federal waters and begun the application process for permission to build there.
The company plans to add more sites. Potential customers include local utilities that could resell the power generated by the windmills, large commercial users and state and local governments.
In Virginia, Winergy wants to build a $900 million wind farm at Smith Island, near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, in federal waters three miles off the coast. The site off Virginia's Eastern Shore peninsula covers 45 square miles with an average water depth of less than 60 feet and was selected in part because of its wind speeds, proximity to major transmission lines and lack of marine mammal activity, the company said.
The 271 turbines would either be placed atop platforms or slipped over long poles that would be driven into the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The base of each windmill would be 220 to 280 feet, and the wingspan of the turbine blades would be about 330 feet tip to tip.
The windmills would generate up to 975 megawatts of electricity an hour. One megawatt is enough to power 1,000 homes for an hour; since the wind likely will blow only about 30 percent of the time, one megawatt probably would power 300 homes.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Norfolk district is one of a number of agencies that must approve the project. Quaranta said the permit process could take three to five years and then it would take at least a year to finish building.
The corps received about 50 written comments from the public by the Nov. 19 deadline and is reviewing them, said Rick Henderson, the Norfolk district's lead project manager for Winergy's application.
Henderson said many of the individuals, government agencies and private organizations supported wind energy. However, they raised questions about the effect on birds' migration routes, navigation, marine mammal activity, military operations and aesthetics.
Those are the same kinds of concerns held by environmental and other groups critical of such projects, including the first offshore wind farm proposed in America, in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound.
That project, proposed by Cape Wind Associates LLC, involves 170 windmills on 25 square miles of ocean, about four miles from shore. Last month, a federal judge in Boston denied a citizen group's motion for a restraining order, paving the way for construction of a data collection tower that is the first step in building that wind farm.
Allowing these projects to proceed could result in a lot of additional industrial development of the coastline, including offshore oil rigs, said representatives of groups including the Humane Society of the United States and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. The groups also say there needs to be a federal process for environmental review specifically for offshore wind energy projects.
''We do not want to just have a giveaway of the coast,'' said Sharon Young, marine issues field director for the Humane Society.
Kennedy, an environmental lawyer, said the problem is that there are no regulatory standards for the construction of industrial projects in the territorial seas or on the continental shelf.
The Army Corps ''has a right to give you a permit to say you're in compliance with the Clean Water Act, but it doesn't have a right to give you a permit that says you can privatize public land on the continental shelf,'' Kennedy said.
Henderson said that in Virginia, the corps is ''essentially telling the company that they can place a structure on the sea bed. The concept of granting use of public waterways to private corporations is commonplace in the United States.''
An official with The Nature Conservancy, which owns many of the barrier islands off Virginia's Eastern Shore, said the environmental group hopes Winergy will provide more information about the ecological effects of the project.
In Virginia, the next step is for Winergy to review the public comments. If the company decides to proceed with the permitting process, it would have to respond to all of the concerns raised in those comments, Henderson said. The corps would evaluate the responses and also would need to decide whether an environmental impact study is warranted.
On the Net:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Web site with information on the project:
Winergy LLC: http://www.winergyllc.com/index.asp
The Original Irregular, Carrabassett Valley, Maine
Where do you want your power to come from?
In the (Original Irregular) Nov. 6, article, "Citizens petition against wind farm," Vera Trafton is quoted as saying, "there is a huge protest in Manchester, Vt. because of a wind farm that was built there." Her statement is incorrect.
Yes, there was a huge protest against an energy project proposed for the southern Vermont area that includes Manchester. Residents of Manchester voted unanimously at Town Meeting, March 2000, to oppose the natural gas pipeline that Energy East (owner of Central Maine Power) wanted to build in order to supply gas to power plants in Bennington (270 mw) and Rutland (1080 mw). The electricity generated was destined for the New England grid, not Vermont.
In contrast, there has been hardly any opposition to Endless Energy's proposal to build a wind farm atop Little Equinox Mountain in Manchester.
In the Manchester area, protests against development proposals play out on the letters to the editor page of the local newspaper. In recent months, a building in violation of local zoning, a ridgeline ordinance, and a train station have all been fought over with numerous letters to the editor on both sides.
There have been zero letters about the wind farm, despite several newspaper articles that have kept the public abreast of its progress.
Manchester's Planning Commission is still gathering information about the proposal, and while there are members who have concerns about aesthetics and taxes, there appears to be no widespread opposition to the plan. At a public hearing, one person spoke against the wind farm while a dozen were supportive.
All of Vermont's major environmental organizations have taken a position in support of Endless Energy's proposal, and Vermont's new Republican governor is also supportive of renewable energy projects, including wind farms.
Opponents of wind power who instead advocate for gas or enormously destructive hydro projects (aren't they taking down dams in Maine?) would do well to educate themselves about the environmental impacts of natural gas power. Take a trip to Veazie, Maine, where Duke Energy operates a 520-mw natural gas power plant. 526 tons per year of air pollutants are emitted. The plant evaporates 1.8 million gallons of water per day that can carry pathogens and particulates throughout the neighborhood. Over a million tons per year of waste is generated by this natural gas power plant.
Don't forget the enormous environmental and social damage that has been wrought upon the citizens of Maine by out-of-state and foreign corporations that took the land of Maine citizens by eminent domain for gas pipelines. Visit the outraged homeowners in Bethel who live 10 feet from a poorly installed and potentially explosive gas pipeline.
Maine is now overly dependent on natural gas at a time when gas reserves are being drawn down and very little new exploration is occurring. Even the exploration that is taking place is nowhere near as productive as
the big finds of the past.
The gas bubble will burst. The only question is "when?" Where do you want your power to come from?
Annette Smith is the Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment Inc. in Danby, Vt.
Burlington Free Press
TOP NEWS Sunday, November 24, 2002
Energy change is in the wind
By Sue Robinson
Free Press Staff Writer
Wind turbines would reach 326 feet into the air on Little Equinox Mountain in Manchester. They could soon swirl on a former Air Force radar base on East Mountain in the Northeast Kingdom. The three-propeller generators might also eventually whir alongside skiers on Magic Mountain.
State regulators will review the three proposals in coming months. If all are approved, the three wind farms will more than quadruple Vermont's wind-based energy production.
Converting wind to electricity, long the pipe dream of a few, is creeping toward the mainstream due to a confluence of events:
-- Long-term contracts for vast amounts of power -- most of it derived from nuclear and hydroelectric plants -- will expire within the next 15 years.
-- Fossil fuels such as oil and gas are subject to volatile price swings and their availability is subject to international politics.
-- Improved technology has lowered the cost of tapping wind to produce electricity.
-- Federal tax incentives aimed at coaxing developers and utilities into building turbines expire in two years, lending an urgency to the push toward wind power.
Though windmills tap a renewable source of energy, debate lingers about whether they are desirable. Is wind-driven power economically viable? Do windmills mar Vermont's beauty and hurt its tourism? The questions pit environmentalist against environmentalist, economist against economist and mountain-loving Vermonters against mountain-loving Vermonters.
Mark Sinclair of the Conservation Law Foundation cringes at what he envisions as windmills bristling from Vermont's pristine hilltops. Yet Vermont's dependence on nuclear and hydro power from another country also angers him.
Three weeks ago, CLF joined with other environmental groups to announce they would support wind turbines on at least one of the mountains, Equinox in Manchester.
"We spent weeks looking at this project and talking to all sorts of experts about bear habitat and visual impacts and trail groups. It was really hard," Sinclair said.
The new state administration will make a difference in wind energy's future here. Gov.-elect Jim Douglas is lukewarm on wind energy unless it can be proven to be economically viable for Vermont and its employers. Over the next two years he has the opportunity to appoint two new people to the state's top four energy posts, which set energy policy for Vermont.
The current Vermont proposals would result in five to 27 wind turbines costing about $2 million each. They would be erected on Vermont ridges where wind blows hard and long.
Although windmills vary in appearance and design, they work on the same principle. The wind turns each turbine's three blades. The blades rotate magnets around copper coils, generating electricity. The electric charge courses down the shaft into the electric grid. No fuel needed. No emissions created.
The only operating commercial wind farm in the state is in Searsburg, operated by the state's second largest utility, Green Mountain Power Corp. Its 11 turbines generated electricity about 22 percent of the time in 2001. They produced enough power for 2,000 GMP customers, or about 0.5 percent of the company's total power supply last year.
GMP spends about 7 cents per kilowatt generating electricity with the 5-year-old turbines. By contrast, GMP pays 6.3 cents per kilowatt for Hydro-Quebec's water-generated electricity, said Dorothy Schnure, GMP spokeswoman.
A major challenge facing wind-power proponents is convincing consumers of its reliability.
On one of the hottest days of August, Schnure said, "I called our dispatch to ask how much power we were getting from Searsburg and he said 'zero.' The blades were not turning."
"Wind is wonderful when it is operating because it displaces oil and gas, but you cannot predict on a daily basis when you are going to get it," she added.
Still, GMP is considering expanding the wind farm, to increase reliability and power generation.
Three other projects would use Searsburg's success as a model:
-- The Little Equinox Mountain project in Manchester would put up five wind turbines generating enough electricity to power 3,500 homes. The $12 million project would be built in a joint venture between Catamount Energy, a subsidiary of Central Vermont Public Service Corp., and Endless Energy of Maine.
-- Catamount also is proposing up to 27 wind towers on Magic Mountain in Londonderry, costing a maximum of $50 million, to generate power for about 18,000 homes.
-- A developer, Matthew Rubin of Montpelier, is studying the economics of putting up to 10 wind turbines at a former Air Force radar base in East Haven. The project could cost $20 million to $30 million.
Also, the Vermont Ski Areas Association is studying placing windmills atop several ski mountains in Vermont, though neither the specific ski areas nor the number of turbines has been decided.
Burlington Electric Department has already agreed to buy power from the Equinox project, and is talking with Rubin about his turbines' energy as well.
"Equinox made economic sense to us. One, it is renewable. Two, it is a new fuel supply that is added to our portfolio and so it adds diversity," said Patty Richards, director of resource planning for BED.
Why wind now?
Vermont utilities started exploring wind power during the energy crisis of the late 1970s. The cost of wind-powered energy, at the time twice that of oil, was expected to head down as oil prices were projected to skyrocket.
"Three or four years ago, wind was not even on the horizon as a serious option, and now we are talking about the possibility of getting easily 20 percent of our power from wind within 10 or 15 years," said Scudder Parker, director of energy efficiency at the Vermont Public Service Department.
California's electric scare last year prompted many states, including Vermont, to rethink their energy mix. In 10 years, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power supply contract will expire. In 15 years, the long-term contract with Hydro-Quebec in Canada will expire. The two make up 70 percent of the state's total power supply mix.
"We can't wait until 2011 to do something about it," said David Lamont, power planning engineer with the state's Public Service Department.
Rubin, who partly owns several of the state's hydro-electric dams, is betting wind power could fill Vermont's energy void. He estimated that 150 wind turbines -- producing power equal to 10 percent of the state's energy mix -- would bring $150 million to Vermont during construction of the turbines, 480 short-term and permanent jobs, and more than $5 million in taxes each year.
"Think about it: This is the biggest economic development thing that could happen in Vermont," Rubin said.
All systems not go
The projects need the approval of the Public Service Board, whose three members are appointed by the governor to six-year terms. State regulators will also consider whether local zoning and other town boards support the projects. The Public Service Department also will weigh in.
Right now, both the board and the department have said they want more wind projects. The board approved Searsburg and all but one of 16 permits for residential windmills.
However, Douglas will presumably appoint a new commissioner for the Department of Public Service, replacing Christine Salembier, and will have the chance to replace one of the Public Service Board members in February.
So far, Douglas has said he supports renewable energies -- with a caveat.
"All things being equal, the governor-elect would prefer renewable energy sources, but all things are not equal. Renewable energy technology is not yet as efficient as traditional energy sources," said Jason Gibbs, press secretary for Douglas.
Many wind power advocates worry that Douglas' opposition to increasing the Energy Efficiency Vermont tax signals a delay for any renewable projects -- at least for now.
One energy economist, Jonathan Lesser of Navigant Consulting in South Burlington, thinks a delay might be for the best. Wind power still costs nearly twice the price of fossil fuels, Lesser said. Also, its need to be on mountaintops in a state where big dollars come from alpine tourism makes large-scale wind farms an unrealistic choice, Lesser added.
"Do we really want resources that cost a lot more, which would mean ratepayers will have to pay more, including businesses, when they are already under stress?" Lesser asked.
Lesser and Douglas worry about upsetting IBM.
The state's largest private employer, with 7,000 workers in Essex Junction, helped kill the first major renewable energy bill last session when its representatives testified. The bill would have required utilities to get a percentage of their power from renewable sources such as wind, and would have raised electric bills 1 percent by 2009.
IBM already pays about $30 million a year in electric costs to run its Vermont plant, which is about $12 million more than similar-sized semiconductor plants, said IBM's Vermont spokesman, Jeff Couture.
"We need to compete. We need a reliable energy source, and wind is not always reliable," Couture said. "We support the concept of renewable energies, but they have to be sustainable and affordable."
Contact Sue Robinson at 660-1852 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Burlington Free Press
Letters to the editor
November 16, 2002
In an Oct. 10 editorial, The Burlington Free Press stated, "It is premature for the state to embark on an ambitious alternative energy program without fully understanding the ramifications." The editorial further closed with the remark, "Renewable energy is not quite there yet and won't be in the immediate future. The danger is that the real potential of renewables becomes short-circuited by false promises from politicians."
I disagree with those statements. In my opinion, the real danger is being shortsighted and not understanding the ramifications of continuing to ignore the proven potential of renewables, particularly wind. Generating power from the wind is not some experimental project as the Free Press implied. It is a viable source of clean, renewable energy embraced by millions worldwide.
The Quebec Energy Board is imposing that Hydro Quebec purchase 100MW of wind energy a year for the next 10 years. Most likely they will develop the resource themselves. When our contract with them runs out, they will have, in addition to hydropower, at least 1,000 MW of wind-generated power available to sell. They see the potential and are willing to invest now for the future.
Do we really want to continue to send our money and jobs out of state for power we could be producing here in Vermont?
We have the technology and knowledge base in Vermont to develop our own wind resources. Based on a recent poll we know at least 70 percent of Vermonters are favorable towards wind. We need to focus more on clean and secure renewable energy that supports our local communities while at the same time addresses the desire for low energy prices and a strong Vermont economy.
Conservation groups support wind farm
By Anita Pomerance
MANCHESTER - Five major environmental groups have come out in favor of a wind farm on Equinox Mountain in preparation for an application being made to the Vermont Public Service Board.
The Conservation Law Foundation, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Vermonters for a Clean Environment and the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club signed a letter of support for the proposed wind energy project on Little Equinox Mountain.
The letter was signed by Mark Sinclair of the Conservation Law Foundation, Elizabeth Courtney of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, Paul Burns of the Public Interest Research Group, Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment and Steve Crowley of the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The letter states that the group endorses the wind project because they believe it to be "an important renewable energy project with many air quality and climate protection benefits," brought to Vermont, "in an environmentally sound manner."
It also stated three conditions for their approval:
. Provision must be made for dismantling all structures if the project is discontinued.
. "All efforts" should be made to minimize the effects of any lights that may be required by the FAA.
. The design of the turbines should be "as simple as possible," uniform, nonreflective; EWP should "avoid distracting or bright colors."
The project calls for five turbines to be mounted on 200-foot tubular towers, with 130-foot blades that would rotate at a "leisurely" pace of 16 rpm: once every four seconds.
According to their developer, Harley Lee of Endless Energy and Equinox Wind Partners, these turbines would produce more than 20 million kilowatt hours a year, enough power for more than 3,300 homes.
The wind energy project could be the third on Little Equinox but, despite the history of electrical generation there, the Manchester Planning Commission voted not to support the project because of unanswered questions.
A recent press conference announcing the organizations' support included Dale Guldbrandsen, board member of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Manchester resident Sinclair, Smith, as well as Robert Menson and Austin Chinn of the Dorset Citizens for Responsible Growth and William Drunsic of the Manchester Planning Commission.
Also present were Tom Gray of the Wind Energy Association and Frank Dyer, property manager for the Carthusian monastery that owns the mountain and, he says, supports the project
Both partners of Equinox Wind Partners, Lee, and Fred Bova, of Catamount, were there also.
This partnership, Equinox Wind Partners LLC, is composed of Endless Energy Corp. of Maine and Catamount Energy Corp. of Rutland, a subsidiary of CVPS. Burlington Electric Department has committed to purchasing the power.
The partners plan to apply for permits in 2002, and hope to go on line in the fall of 2003.
According to Lee, Little Equinox is a particularly good site for a wind farm because it has a road, power and an inn.
Lee pointed out that wind energy uses local resources to reduce air pollution and global warming. "It gives Manchester residents," he said, "a chance to think globally and act locally."
He said the Equinox wind farm would prevent more than 70,000 pounds of pollutants per day, considering the pollution New England's fossil-fired plants cause in producing equivalent energy.
He also said that the project is not expected to have significant impact on plants or wildlife because soils and water will be protected by using best management practices when upgrading the road and power lines.
The Manchester Planning Commission's Drunsic later expressed concerns about aesthetics, the visual impact of the structures and the lighting.
"We need a lot more information," he said.
He said the Town Plan opposed any structures on ridge lines, although it does make reference to wind towers in supporting "renewable energy in appropriate places."
Chinn, of the Dorset Citizens for Responsible Growth, said, "I like the look of them, I find them mesmerizing." He said he remembers the earlier, smaller wind towers, and realizes these will be "considerably bigger." From what he has heard so far, he said, he supports the project because it supplies renewable energy.
On the question of visibility, Lee said the towers would be most visible from Route 7 across from Wilcox Dairy. Nearer Manchester, it would be "sort of hide and seek." From Equinox Hotel, for example, one wouldn't see them from the back door, but would if they went above the tennis bubble and around the south wing.
Drunsic also said he felt the wind farms might put Manchester's tourist industry at risk.
In contrast, both Gray and Lee said that wind farms had been found to be a tourist attraction in themselves.
Gray said a poll of tourists to a scenic area near a wind farm in Scotland found that nine out of 10 respondents said the wind farm would not keep them from returning, and a wind farm in Palm Springs, Calif., runs tours year-round.
Lee cited reports that traffic on Route 8 to Searsburg has increased markedly since the wind farm was built there.
Drunsic also said there were other financial concerns, pointing out that it would help the energy investors and Burlington, which already has the lowest energy rates in the state, but not Manchester.
He said the project would have Act 60 repercussions, making Manchester seem richer, increasing its grand list by $10 million, while failing to provide school revenues.
Lee said the bulk of the tax revenues, $80,000, went to the state, while $20,000 went to the town, but he hoped ways would be found for more of the money to go to the town.
Gray said he saw the press conference as a "frank exchange of views," and that the project is "a step forward."
He said people have to think about how wind projects look and the best places to put them. "There's no such thing as a free lunch," he said, but he felt the benefits of this project outweighed any disadvantages.
He urged cooperation: "We're not going to solve our problems unless, to the degree we can, we solve our problems locally and by working together. New England has renewable resources, wind and wood, that aren't being used as fully as possible. We have to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuel."
While the Manchester Planning Commission has not stepped up to support the proposal, local town or village permits are not required for wind energy projects. The Vermont Public Service Board would consider the application for a Section 248 Certificate of Public Good and hold public hearings.
November 14, 2002
Wind Power is Right for Vermont's Future
I would like to start this article by congratulating our new Governor-elect, Jim Douglas. All three candidates ran a good race. Governor-elect Douglas is going to have to face some serious issues as our new Governor. Some short-term, immediate problems that have to be solved are Act 60, permit reform, and of course the economy. And heres a long-term issue that certainly needs some attention, which is energy and renewable energy for the state of Vermont.
I spoke to Governor-elect Douglas the other day, wishing him well on being our new Governor and talking to him a little bit about renewable energy. He said I could quote him: I believe renewable energy has to play an important part in Vermonts future. For example, my in-laws own a farm and they turn manure into electricity to help provide energy for their farm. Making use of Vermonts renewable resources such as farm methane and wind and solar are important for our future.
The current state energy plan advocates for renewables, but we havent had the leadership on energy issues. Now maybe we will have the leadership for us to develop our renewable energy resources in the state. For instance, as you have probably read in the paper lately, there are several proposals to put windmills in different areas of southern Vermont. Developers are looking at expanding the Searsburg wind farm. There is a proposal to build windmills on Mount Snow and also Little Equinox Mountain in Manchester.
The major drawback that I have heard about windmills is the aesthetic impact. Now granted, nobody wants windmills on every mountain that we have in Vermont. But if they are designed properly in the proper locations, I think they can be asset that will strengthen our economy and not make us so dependent on deals like Hydro-Quebec and foreign oil. The proper locations for windmills are in areas that are already in developed areas, but they are not appropriate for pristine wilderness areas.
It is very important for our new Governor to develop a long-term energy plan that incorporates windmills and sites for them. Once windmills prove themselves by displacing dirty power and producing clean power from a renewable resource, I think, and studies support this, that even more people will support them. But we have to give them a chance. The guidelines should be set early enough that they do not propose these windmill sites to be in the most pristine locations. And we should not forget that we have to start thinking long-term, because in about ten years the Hydro-Quebec contract and the Vermont Yankee contracts expire. The other thing that we call can be doing to help ourselves is try to conserve energy when we can and also invest in solar power, wherever it is financially feasible.
The state right now may be at a very pivotal point in our modern history as to which direction we take on these issues. Lets not be short-sighted and wait for these contracts to run out before we have a plan for our future.
Magic Mountain eyed for 27-tower wind farm
By SABINA HASKELL Managing Editor
LONDONDERRY -- Magic Mountain may become home to a 27-tower wind farm.
Catamount Energy Corp. is eyeing the financially troubled ski area for a $50 million project which would generate up to 50 megawatts of power, or about enough annual electricity for 12,000 homes, according to company estimates.
"We evaluated the entire state for potential sites. Magic Mountain emerged as a superior site and suitable for development," said Robert J. Charlebois, Catamount's managing director for U.S. business development. "Co-mingling an existing use with a wind farm is being encouraged by many in the state."
The Central Vermont Public Service subsidiary has already signed leases with the ski area and neighboring private landowners on Glebe Mountain, covering more than 3,000 acres along the mountain ridge, Charlebois said.
Magic Mountain ski area was sold out of foreclosure at an auction in August which consolidated ownership under John C. Nelson, one of the ski area's former partners.
The partnership with Catamount is welcomed by the cash-strapped ski area, said Gary Aichholz, general manager of the ski area.
"If it helps Magic and it helps the state and is a clean source of energy, we would like to help," said Aichholz. "It will help the area. It will help everybody around here a lot. There are a lot of positive things about it."
Charlebois said the company will file an application with the state by year's end, seeking permission to erect up to three "test towers." Those towers will provide Catamount with critical wind measurements needed for the final project design, he said.
Londonderry officials will get their first look at preliminary plans later this month.
"We really want to dedicate ourselves to an ongoing dialog with the town and surrounding communities to address concerns they might have with respect to this project," said Charlebois.
He has met informally with several local officials who have voiced support for the wind farm concept.
"I'm certainly for that type of energy if we can get it to work," said Clyde Prouty, Londonderry selectman. "I'm not really sure of the details. We'll have to wait and see how it turns out and what direction they are taking the project."
Catamount has run into local opposition for a much smaller wind farm proposed for Little Equinox mountain in Manchester.
The five-tower project failed to win support last month from the Manchester Planning Commission, which feared the 330-foot towers would be an eyesore and potentially drive away tourists. The turbines being considered for the Magic Mountain project would be similar in size, Charlebois said.
Nevertheless, Catamount plans to file its permit application with the state for the Little Equinox project before the end of the year. The city of Burlington has already agreed to purchase all of the power generated from the Little Equinox wind farm. Five environmental groups, including the Conservation Law Foundation, have come out in support of the project.
Charlebois said the company will approach Burlington again about purchasing power from the Magic Mountain project as well as the broader market.
"We think there's a need in the state of Vermont for both of these projects. It's an excellent opportunity to add renewable energy to the potential (energy) mix," Charlebois said.
The Original Irregular, Carrabassett Valley, Maine
Citizens petition against wind farm
CARRABASSETT VALLEY A proposal by Endless Energy Corporation to have a mountainous area rezoned to allow for the construction of a wind farm has provoked strong opposition from many area residents.
The proposed wind farm would consist of 29 wind towers, each 330 feet high with three blades 130 feet in length, and located on the ridge from the Redington Pond Range to Black Nubble Mountain. The peaks are located about four miles west of Sugarloaf/USA and eight miles south of Stratton in one of the most remote locations in the area. Vera Trafton, one of the members of Friends of the Western Mountains, the petitioners who are opposed to the project, said she learned of the proposal in January.
After hearing from hikers who voiced their concerns, Trafton and other residents created a petition in opposition to the project. So far, they have collected roughly 1,500 signatures, which Trafton says represent a cross-section of hikers, fisherman, hunters, snowmobilers and other residents and visitors who refuse to let the environmentally-fragile area be despoiled by the towers.
When asked if Harley Lee, the President of EEC, knew about the opposition, she responded, He definitely knows about it. One of the claims that EEC has made is that once it is built and people see it, there will be no objection to it. This is not correct, as there is a huge protest in Manchester, Vt. because of a wind farm that was built there. She said that the company has claimed that it will only be a small footprint on the land. What isnt taken into account is that the towers are spread over several miles. And as for creating jobs, Trafton said that that there would only be 20 to 25 short-term construction jobs and five to 10 long-term maintenance jobs created by the project.
The environmental impact of such a project cannot be overstated, said Trafton.
Just the building of the access roads will be destructive, she said. He (Lee) has bought land which he wants rezoned. High mountain terrain is very fragile. Any sort of disturbance will make for erosion problems. This is an area where you shouldnt have a large industrial development such as this.
She added that, contrary to claims by the company that it will be a tourist attraction, People will seek it out once, but people who come to the area regularly now wont come again. Many people wont come at all because they feel the wind farm will look like a grotesque monster.
The wind tower will be visible from many locations in the area, said Trafton. In England, they have windmills and they talk about seeing them for 20 miles, she said. Drive along Route 16, and you will see that this is an area of high points. Appalachian Trail through-hikers will see them on four hiking days. People in Eustis and Oquossoc will see these as the centerpieces of their view. The views that people see at night will also be severely impacted because of strobe lights located on the blades of the windmills that are used to warn airplanes, she said.
It will affect peoples views of the stars. It will also affect the flight patterns of birds. We cant believe that with the large numbers of birds we see that the blades wont chop them up. They will be sucked in and disoriented at night by the lights.
Trafton went on to say that the blades would be turning at a rate of nine to 19 revolutions per minute, or a speed of 176 miles per hour. This, she said, would be more than enough to kill birds, which are naturally attracted to the tops of ridges due to the air currents that exist in those areas. People are concerned about wildlife and the effects of this on wildlife, she said.
The petitioners have had discussions with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club regarding the project. The MATC, said Trafton, is one hundred percent opposed. He (Lee) says hes talked to people in the trail community who are in favor of the project, when in fact there are many hikers who have signed (our) petition. The idea that you would be tampering with a huge nationwide attraction such as the Appalachian Trail seems to be a very bad idea. Maines scenery, said Trafton, has a tourism impact that transcends mere numbers. Maine has an almost mythical aura because much of the land in the state is still pristine, she said.
Many hunters, snowmobilers and fishermen are opposed to the project because if theres a rezoning, then the next time someone wants to build in the area, they could just set an industry right next to the towers. That sense of spiritual renewal that people get when they visit that area would then be forever spoiled.
She said that the electricity generated by the wind farm would be more costly than other forms of green power. For the tiny amount of power produced, the negative aspects are ridiculous, she said. The amount of power that the company says it will produce (200 million kilowatt hours per year) assumes maximum efficiency. The winds are not nearly as reliable in Maine as they are in the Midwest, where you dont have to build huge towers to get the same type of production.
Trafton suggested cleaning up companies that pollute the environment, as well as using alternatives to wind power such as hydropower and gas fired energy. Weve done so many things thinking we have limitless power, she said. We need to build buildings more sensibly and improve technology. Wind power is not very efficient. There is a lack of balance between what is gained and lost, and you destroy fragile areas by building towers.
EEC has asked the states Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) to rezone Redington and Black Nubble from their current status as protected mountain areas to areas open to industrial development.
Friends of the Western Mountains has and will continue to appeal to Franklin County Commissioners, state legislators, local selectmen and others to stop the project, says Trafton.
Environmental groups say they support wind power
By Associated Press, 11/1/2002 15:01
MANCHESTER, Vt. (AP) Five environmental groups got together this week to show support for a wind power project rejected by the town's planning commission.
''Vermont could be a real leader in wind development, and it could be a major boon to our economy,'' said Mark Sinclair, a spokesman for the Conservation Law Foundation, which is organizing support for the project.
Catamount Energy Corporation, a subsidiary of Central Vermont Public Service Corporation, and its independent partner Endless Energy, of Maine, wants to build five 330-foot wind turbines on the crest of Mount Equinox along Route 7A south of Manchester village.
CLF supports wind development in some parts of the state, particularly Equinox and the Northeast Kingdom, and also supports a debate on whether state and federal land in the Green Mountains should be opened up to
wind power, Sinclair said.
Industries supporting wind power and other clean energy sources could provide jobs, and wind power could save money the state pays to Hydro-Quebec for electricity, he said.
''I think Vermont needs to grow its own energy sources, and I think those sources should be as green as possible,'' he said.
Board members in Manchester said they were worried about how the wind turbines would look. But Sinclair said the visual impact pales in comparison to the environmental drawbacks of fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
''If you can't build it here, where can you build it?'' he said.
The city of Burlington has agreed to buy all the output generated by the proposed windmills. The windmills could generate 20 to 25 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The average household uses 6,000 kilowatts a year.
Three windmills were installed at the same location by a different developer in the early 1980s, and were later torn down. Green Mountain Power put two windmills there temporarily in the late 1980s.
Based on what Green Mountain Power learned from the temporary installation, the company went on to install a wind farm in Searsburg that has operated successfully for more than five years.
Lee Krohn, planning director of Manchester, said the board made the 5 to 2 decision not to support the project for the time being because the members felt they needed more information to make a final decision.
''I hope further information will answer their questions,'' Krohn said. He said some new information has shown the impact will be less than they had expected.
''Visual simulations show these little tiny things on top of the mountain, and no one has challenged the validity of these simulations,'' Krohn said.
CLF is supporting the project with the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Vermonters for a Clean Environment and the Sierra Club.
CLF supports windmills
By JOHN LeMAY
MANCHESTER -- Five major environmental groups have joined in support of a windmill power project on Mount Equinox that the Planning Commission voted in October not to support.
"Vermont could be a real leader in wind development, and it could be a major boon to our economy," said Mark Sinclair, a spokesman for the Conservation Law Foundation, which is organizing support for the project.
Catamount Energy Corporation, a subsidiary of Central Vermont Public Service Corporation, and its independent partner Endless Energy, of Maine, wants to build five 330-foot wind turbines on the crest of Mount Equinox along Route 7A south of Manchester Village.
The CLF supports wind development in strategic parts of the state, particularly Equinox and the Northeast Kingdom, and also supports a debate on whether state and federal land in the Green Mountains should be opened up to wind power, Sinclair said.
Industries supporting wind power and other clean energy sources could provide jobs in the state, and wind power could save money the state pays to Hydro-Quebec for electricity, he said.
"I think Vermont needs to grow its own energy sources, and I think those sources should be as green as possible," he said.
One of the hot points of argument over the development of wind power is the visual impact of windmills on the landscape, Sinclair said.
That's the case in Manchester, where board members have expressed concern over the effect of the windmills on the Equinox skyline.
"It's not a perfect project," Sinclair admitted. But the fact that an access road and power lines are already in place at the site would make the environmental impact minimal, and the visual impact pales in comparison to the environmental drawbacks of fossil fuels and nuclear energy, Sinclair said.
"If you can't build it here, where can you build it?" he said.
The City of Burlington has agreed to buy all the output generated by the proposed windmills. The windmills could generate 20 to 25 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. The average household uses 6,000 kilowatts a year.
Three windmills were installed at the same location by a different developer in 1981-1982, which were later torn down. Green Mountain Power put two windmills there temporarily in the late 1980s.
Based on what Green Mountain Power learned from the temporary installation, the company went on to install a wind farm in Searsburg that has operated successfully for more than five years.
Lee Krohn, planning director of Manchester, said the board made the 5 to 2 decision not to support the project for the time being because the members felt they needed more information to make a final decision.
"I hope further information will answer their questions," Krohn said.
Some information has already come in, showing that the impact of construction will be less than was feared, Krohn said. The visual impact may also be less than feared, he added.
"Visual simulations show these little tiny things on top of the mountain, and no-one's challenged the validity of these simulations," Krohn said.
But Planning Commission member Bill Drunsic stands by the board's wait-and-see vote.
"It's a lot more complicated than just saying 'Gee, I love wind power,'" Drunsic said.
He said he didn't think the previous windmills on the mountain were eyesores, but the proposed windmills, which are larger, may be more visible, he said. He's not convinced the computer simulation gives an accurate impression of what it will look like, he added.
Burlington stands to make $400,000-500,000 a year selling clean air credits as a result of the deal, while Manchester gains nothing, Drunsic said.
"There's a lot more we have to understand before we make a final decision," he said. If and when the people of Manchester become informed and support the project, then it should move forward, he said.
The CLF, an environmental group which often opposes development projects, is best known in the area for opposing the new Mount Anthony Union Middle school planned for East Road in Bennington.
The other organizations supporting the project are the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Vermonters for a Clean Environment and the Sierra Club.
Burlington Free Press
October 26, 2002
Letter to Editor
I'm responding to the editorial article regarding "Renewable debate" (Free Press, Oct. 10) regarding renewable energy for Vermont. Either the newspaper was just an instigator or just plain ignorant.
I was privileged to see, firsthand, the project that Oregon is doing with the Stateline wind project, over 200 megawatts of wind power so far. The state of Oregon struck me as really dedicated to renewable energy. They know what they're doing and they have a governor that acts on the real energy issues.
Keep procrastinating, and Vermont will always be energy dependent on others. Sometimes it's hard for people to "see the light," especially when it's right in front of their eyes.
The Original Irregular, Carrabassett Valley, Maine
Wind power a step closer
CARRABASSETT VALLEY -- According to Endless Energy Corporation officials, what they hope is the last biological study is nearing completion. This study involves the types of birds in the area and just how many there might be near the power lines where wind turbines are expected to be constructed.
Harley Lee, president of EEC said that as soon as final permits are received plans call for 29 turbines to be constructed on the Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountains, about four miles west of Sugarloaf/USA and eight miles south of Stratton.
Maine's first wind farm, being developed by EEC, will produce clean, renewable electric power from the 29 modern wind turbines, said Lee.
It will generate 200 million kilowatt hours a year, enough to power 33,000 Maine homes. The wind turbines are placed on 330-foot tall tubular towers, said Lee. Three 130-foot-long blades on each turbine will rotate at 9 to 19 rotations a minute.
The site in the Carrabassett Valley region was cho Jason Huckaby of Portland, a sub-contractor radar operator, and Harley Lee, president of Endless Energy Corporation, are pictured with radar equipment used to count birds as part of biological study. sen, said Lee, because it is near existing roads, power lines and other developments, which minimizes environmental impacts. There are already six to eight miles of existing logging roads that will be refurbished with about 10 miles of new roads to be constructed for access to the wind farm.
A power line will be constructed so as to minimize visual and environmental impacts as much as possible, said Lee. The project will connect to the grid on Rte. 27 west of the Sugarloaf/USA ski area.
The Redington project will prevent more than 630,000 pounds of pollu tion per day from existing power plants in New England, said Lee. The $50 million project will use 220 acres, the equivalent of 44 five-acre house lots.
Biologists have collected data showing that the project will have little impact on wildlife or plants. Although the towers will be visible from Sugarloaf/USA, the Appalachian Trail, snowmobile trails and Rte. 16, surveys indicate many local residents, skiers, snowmobilers and hunters are in favor of the project, and just over one half of the hikers are either neutral or supportive as well.
EEC plans to submit an application to the Land Use Regulation Commission and Department of Environmental Protection this year and if approved, the project will be constructed in 2004, said Lee.
EEC is a Maine-based wind energy company established in 1987. It is the first wind energy company to receive environmental permits for a wind farm in Maine. EEC, which owns the Redington site, began conducting environmental studies and wind measurements for the project in 1993.
Wind power provides a sustainable alternative to fossil fuel generation, decreases reliance on foreign fuels and dramatically reduces air pollution and global warming gasses, said Lee. The project will benefit the Carrabassett Valley region, said Lee, by contributing taxes, creating jobs and providing an eco-tourism attraction.
Burlington Free Press
Monday, October 14, 2002
BED focuses on renewable supplies of energy
While I was pleased to see a positive mention about the Burlington Electric Department's efficiency programs and its move toward renewable energy in the Oct. 10 editorial, I was quite surprised by the pessimistic tone regarding the possibility of renewable energy in Vermont in the near term.
BED's current Energy Plan Resource Report firmly states, "BED's goal is to meet load growth estimates with renewable supplies of energy." We wouldn't make a statement like that unless we could back it up with sound economics. Our customers are used to stable rates, and we want to keep it that way.
Our recently signed contract to purchase wind power from the Little Mount Equinox project is a step in the right direction. The editorial mentioned the Hydro-Quebec power. While BED has never had a contract with Hydro-Quebec, our rate payers will do better economically receiving power from wind through the Little Mount Equinox project under the current terms.
Today, HQ power is about 6.4 cents per kilowatt-hour while Equinox is expected to be 6.1 cents. Because Equinox is a renewable source, BED then can sell off the Renewable Energy Credits, which makes the power even less expensive. Hydro-Quebec is not eligible for Renewable Energy Credits because of its harsh impact on the environment. On top of being a better deal, these are energy dollars that stay in Vermont, which create jobs and give Vermonters a more secure energy future. Now, $1.4 billion is exported from our economy and sent out of state and out of country to purchase power. Having these dollars stay local is a great economic stimulant.
The editorial referred to experimental wind-energy projects. While the wind turbine at BED was erected to determine how much electricity could be produced from wind coming off the lake, the Searsburg wind farm is certainly not experimental and neither is Little Mount Equinox. We truly need to embark on an ambitious alternative program. To say we lack the knowledge base is to not understand the companies that we have in-state right now, companies that have been doing 80-90 percent of their work out of state and out of country because the market has not been adequately grown. We don't do enough to promote renewables in state. They are successful companies with proven technology.
If we are concerned about a strong economy and making it stronger in the future, pursuing renewable power is the only best way to go. If we are concerned about the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, of which there are many, not the least of which is the effect it is having on our climate global warming, then, yes, it is a "moral imperative" that we move in this direction.
This utility is quite excited about our energy future, and it lies in developing in-state renewables, not in exporting our hard-earned money north of the border or overseas.
Barbara L. Grimes is general manager of the Burlington Electric Department.
Vermont Public Radio
Wind project proposed for Little Equinox Mtn.
MONTPELIER, VT (2002-10-12)
(Host) The Manchester Planning Commission has raised questions about a large-scale wind energy project that's planned for one of the highest peaks in town. The commission this week voted not to support the project until it learns more details about how it would look on the scenic mountaintop.
VPR's John Dillon reports.
(Dillon) The five wind turbines planned for Little Equinox Mountain would be the state's biggest wind energy project. Each machine spans 330 feet and together they'd generate about nine megawatts of power.
Bob Charlebois is the managing director for Catamount Energy, one of the project developers. He describes the Little Equinox site as ideal, because it's very windy and there's already a road and power lines to the top.
(Charlebois) "One of the reasons we chose this site is that it's unique in Vermont, in that it's previously hosted two other wind energy projects. So much of the infrastructure is already in place, which means there'll be very little disturbance to accommodate our project."
(Dillon) Charlebois wants the wind turbines on line by the end of next year or by early 2004. He plans to file for state approval in the next few months.
But the town of Manchester wants to be involved in the state review process. The town planning commission voted this week to withhold support for the project until it learns more. Commission Chairman Brian Keefe says the commission isn't against the project.
(Keefe) "I think globally people in Manchester understand the benefits of renewable energy, wind energy, the reduction in acid rain and things like that. But we also have to watch out for our view sheds, our own tourist-based economy and the impact that this will have. And we want to know a little more clearly how will these things look on the mountain."
(Dillon) Bob Charlebois, the project manager, says he's hopeful the town will get behind the $12 million project during the state review.
(Charlebois) "We also fully intend to be as responsive as we can be to any questions that the town has. And we think that over time as those questions are answered, the planning board will be satisfied and we will enjoy their full support."
(Dillon) The planning commission will probably vote again on the project later this year.
For Vermont Public Radio, I'm John Dillon in Montpelier.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Manchester has windmills on its mind
Manchester has been tilting at windmills lately, not with the bold yet futile effort of a Don Quixote, but with an understanding that the town faces a serious decision about siting a privately funded wind energy project atop Little Equinox mountain.
Initially, the door seemed open to partners Catamount Energy and Endless Energy to erect five 330-foot wind turbines and sell the generated energy to Burlington. But Monday night, Manchester's Planning Commission did an about-face and, after considering clear opposition to the windmills, officially voted 5-2 to adopt a position of "non-support" pending further information on the project. The commission also took the healthy step of asking that it be allowed to participate in formal hearings before the state's Public Service Board, which has the ultimate authority to give the energy project a thumb's up or thumb's down.
The issue isn't clear-cut. Final approval, if and when it comes, certainly will include an array of compromises.
What moved the planning commission to the other side of neutrality was a document drafted by planning commission member Bill Drunsic that raised a number of key issues.
Cynics might say Vermont's selection of October as Wind Energy Month might be keyed to the on-going political campaigns. In actuality, there are sound environmental and economic reasons to expand the use of wind as an alternative energy source, not only state-wide, but nationally. Planning Commission member David Quesnel rightfully pointed out, "Any chance to promote these technologies is a very worthwhile endeavor."
But Drunsic pointed to the Little Equinox project's lack of detail, its apparent conflict with town planning goals and its adverse effect on the town's ridgeline view.
"The bottom line is we don't have a lot of information on the dimensions," Drunsic told the planners Monday. And the size of the rotors, or turbines, could mean clear-cutting a half-mile path to the summit for huge cranes needed to hoist the massive rotors into place.
Quesnel's conclusion in expressing disappointment at the vote's outcome: "We need to look at the global picture."
Drunsic's conclusion on the project: "It would be inappropriate to support this until we know the whole story."
Drunsic's letter to the planning commissioners stated that far smaller clear-cutting proposals had been opposed in the past. He questioned the ability of the project's partners to sell their output to utilities already over-contracted for energy and he challenged the project's tax benefit to the town.
He questioned risk versus benefit for a project that "will play a minuscule role in future power generation in Vermont." The risk? The tourist-oriented economy.
In the long run, the project could be approved. It won't come to that until the partners satisfy local requirements and permitting demands, reveal the full scope and details of the project and formal hearings are held. But if that time comes, Manchester's governing officials should be certain that the Public Service Board made a decision in Manchester's best interest, that the project's technology is the best available, that they've obtained the best possible terms and conditions for the town, and that Manchester's residents fully know what they're getting; the bad as well as the good.
Burlington Free Press
EDITORIAL Thursday, October 10, 2002
When Doug Racine describes renewable energy as "a moral imperative" and Con Hogan argues it is "a dream that's within our grasp," some skepticism is in order -- notably whether wind, solar and other non-traditional power sources really make sense for Vermont.
Conceptually, renewable energy has wide appeal, which is why it is an attractive issue for gubernatorial candidates. At an energy forum earlier this week, Democrat Racine and independent Hogan embraced renewables, while Republican Jim Douglas moderated his enthusiasm by insisting that Vermont should seek a consensus on the approach "in order to preserve our strong economy."
Renewable energy is often promoted as almost a cure-all to the future power needs of Vermont and the rest of the country, with supporters claiming that windmills, solar panels, biomass and other sources hold the promise of energy independence and could spare the world from global warming and the hazards of nuclear waste disposal.
The path from lofty vision to flipping on a light switch, however, is strewn with uncertainty. Although experimental wind-energy projects in Vermont and sustainable-energy programs sponsored by the Burlington Electric Department are encouraging, it is premature for the state to embark on an ambitious alternative program without fully understanding all the ramifications. Vermont lacks that knowledge base.
The 2002 Legislature debated a renewable energy bill pushed by Gov. Howard Dean. The legislation was sidetracked after IBM, the state's largest employer and No. 1 energy consumer, warned that it could make Vermont less competitive economically with other states. IBM said it pays $10 million more for electricity at its Essex facilities than it would for the same power in New York.
Another red flag on renewables is being waved in Massachusetts, where a plan to construct a 170-turbine wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod has come under attack from environmentalists and local residents. Similar complaints would reverberate across Vermont should wind towers be put on Green Mountain ridgelines.
Contracts with Hydro-Quebec mean that Vermont receives roughly 45 percent of its energy from renewables. Without Hydro-Quebec, Vermont gets about 15 percent of its power from renewables. The rest of the state's electrical supply comes from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and natural-gas-fueled generators.
Those figures show that Vermont is not a contributor to air pollution from coal-fired plants or heavily dependent on other fossil fuels, notably oil from the politically volatile Middle East.
Moreover, Hydro-Quebec's eagerness to sell more power, the increased availability of natural gas from Canada and the at least decade-long lifespan of Vermont Yankee mean that Vermont does not face an immediate energy crisis. Utility executives add that the reliability and price constancy of those supplies could help make Vermont electric rates more competitive in the next few years.
Renewable energy -- along with conservation -- should play an integral part in the state's energy mix over the next few decades. Improved technology should help bring down the cost of renewables, while environmental and political factors should make sustainable options more attractive.
Renewable energy is not quite there yet and won't be in the immediate future. The danger is that the real potential of renewables becomes short-circuited by false promises from politicians.
Planners choose 'nonsupport' of windmills
By SABINA HASKELL
MANCHESTER -- The Planning Commission has shelved its support for a wind energy project atop Little Equinox and will ask for "party status" if the proposal reaches state regulators.
In a surprising turnabout 5-2 vote Monday, board members debated outright opposition to the five-windmill electricity generating project, before opting to soften their position to "non-support" until organizers supply more detailed site information.
But the commission's request to participate in state hearings before the Public Service Board, could signal big problems for the project's ultimate success.
"It's very rare that a locality participates," said Aaron Adler, special counsel to the public service department. A local board's comments on a project are always considered as significant, but it is unusual to ask to be so involved in a Public Service Board hearing, Adler added.
Catamount Energy Corporation, a subsidiary of Central Vermont Public Service, and its independent partner Endless Energy of Maine, want to construct five 330-foot turbines and sell the electricity to Burlington. The project has been heralded by alternative energy advocates as a small, but significant step, toward making wind energy a reality nationally. Vermont has declared October as Wind Energy Month, the first state to do so. Ironically, gubernatorial candidates and other state officials participated in a Montpelier forum Tuesday.
Nevertheless, at issue is the lack of detail about the windmills impact on Manchester's ridgeline views and how the project differs with town planning goals, said Bill Drunsic, planning commission. Drunsic distributed a position statement to his colleagues detailing his concerns just prior to the vote.
"While everyone would like to support development of clean energy, we need to look at the other side of the ledger to see what the trade-offs are," Drunsic said Tuesday.
He compared the windmills to much smaller cell towers, which the town has required be hidden. And the size of the rotors, or turbines, could mean wide swathes of clear-cutting, Drunsic said.
"The bottom line is we don't have a lot of information on the dimensions," said Drunsic. "It would be inappropriate to support this until we know the whole story."
Planning Commission Chairman Brian Keefe sided with the majority in opposing the project for now.
"They failed to convince four people that they had a good plan," said Keefe. He hopes Catamount will supply the needed information to sway the board.
The board's vote was too close to call all along, said David Quesnel and John Ringwood, the board's two naysayers.
Quesnel said he wished his fellow board members had considered the importance of renewable energy resources. "Any chance to promote these technologies is a very worthwhile endeavor. We need to look at the global picture, not just our own area. I'm disappointed we couldn't see past that," Quesnel said.
Saturday, October 05, 2002
There's opportunity in the wind
October in Vermont is one of our windiest months. What many people still don't realize is that there is opportunity for Vermonters blowing in that wind. To help us become more knowledgeable about that opportunity, Governor Dean has declared October Vermont's Wind Energy Month.
This is especially timely right now while politicians and voters are recognizing the importance of good quality jobs in our state. Vermont spends more than $1 billion annually on energy. Much of that money is spent on foreign and out-of-state sources of fossil fuels that export our dollars and bring us unwanted pollution.
Wind energy now provides an affordable source of power that is being used increasingly all over the world. Vermont has 16 wind energy companies right now, including three manufacturers, and they are growing. They provide high quality jobs throughout the state, serving primarily clients in other states and countries. Our own state lags behind in making wind energy part of our own energy future.
Fourteen states have mandated goals for renewable energy use; Vermont does not. Even the big oil state of Texas requires increased use of wind energy to meet its growing energy needs. In this area, the people of Vermont are ahead of many of its legislators. In a recent poll, 71 percent of the Vermonters surveyed said they favor increased use of renewable energy. When asked which energy source they would like to see more of, the greatest number named wind energy. Solar energy was second. Oil, natural gas and nuclear energy had tiny support, and coal had none at all.
This election year, for the first time, increased use of renewable energy is showing up as an important issue for many environmentalists and business people. What appears to be an unusual alliance just makes sense. Renewables such as wind energy make good business, good jobs, and cleaner air. Wind energy is a neat fit with Vermont values of independence and self reliance. Nobody goes to war over wind resources.
True, some people have worried about the appearance of wind turbines on Vermont landscapes. But even there, the pro-wind people seem to be firmly in the lead. In the previously mentioned poll, a random sampling of 402 Vermonters by ORC Macro, 70 percent said they would like to see more wind turbines located in Vermont.
In many places in the world, wind turbines are seen as symbols of clean energy and energy independence. And now it appears that many Vermonters also understand and embrace that symbolism. We have the potential now to become world leaders in a promising industry if we can choose leaders with vision. Nationally, wind power is now expected to become a major contributor to our U.S. energy supply.
* Wind is local. We don't import it, ship it, or fight wars over it.
* Wind turbines make poor targets for terrorist attacks.
* Wind power works. It can keep the lights on when all other energy sources are blacking out.
* Wind power is clean. It doesn't foul our air, waters, or soils.
* Wind is "renewable." And plentiful. We won't run out of wind.
A major obstacle in the past to wind energy has been the cost of the technology to produce it. But since the 1970s, when Congress established the National Renewable Energy Lab, wind energy generation costs have fallen 90 percent.
Costs are now as low as 4 cents per kilowatt hour, competitive with other energy sources. And those costs are still falling as wind projects get larger and newer technologies are used. With costs going down, interest in wind energy is moving beyond the core of "true believers" and going mainstream. More utilities are beginning to invest in wind energy and to plan for it to have a growing role in our future as petroleum and natural gas supplies dwindle.
Last year, the Vermont Senate tried to take a small step toward advancing wind energy here by overwhelmingly passing a bill (S.264) that provided critical incentives and other measures to support renewable energy in Vermont. However, that bill was eviscerated in the House. That action showed clearly that Vermont needs a public education effort so that people can better understand the opportunity for good jobs and clean energy that are riding in our wind, especially in October, Wind Energy Month.
David Blittersdorf of Charlotte is past president of the American Wind Energy Association, founding member/past chairman, Renewable Energy Vermont and president/CEO, NRG Systems, Inc., a Hinesburg, Vermont maker of wind measuring devices serving the global wind energy industry and employing 36 Vermonters
Saturday, October 05, 2002
Letter to the Editor
There's another side to the wind-power issue
The Banner sure seems to enjoy just one side of a story, whether it's editorials such as "windmills in Manchester," or page one, "Wind on the mountain" stories, among many other lop-sided views concerning wind energy. Fortunately, virtually every on-line daily and weekly newspapers can be found at www.newspapers.com
For example, Publisher William J. Pape II's totally independent Waterbury Republican-American (www.rep-am.com) has had many fine editorials concerning wind power.
For example, in paragraph six of "green power, red ink" ... the Denver Post recently reported that the Public Service Co. of Colorado, the state's largest utility, is considering offering wind-generated power. "The hitch," the newspaper said, paraphrasing company President Wayne Brunetti, "is that renewable energy could cost up to 40 percent more."
William Dean Singleton is the publisher of the Denver Post. Hs is also the chief executive officer of the group of newspapers which owns the Banner. His business phone number is (303) 563-6360 should you wish to call that nice man to ask for more information.
Anyway, according to the Waterbury editorial, "Company officials say solar energy is five to 15 times more expensive than fossil fuels. Wind power costs 60 percent to 65 percent more than power from coal-burning plants in Colorado. The power company apparently plans to pass the real costs of wind power on to customers who select it."
The Waterbury paper's "wayward windmills" editorial earlier this year stated in paragraph seven, "The Danish newspaper Politiken reports huge government subsidies have created wind farms that in theory produce three times as much energy as the country consumes at peak demand. In practice, however, 600 co-generation suppliers and 6,000 wind turbines provide "almost no real power. ... Wind energy covered as little as 1.7 percent of Denmark's total energy demand" in 1999.
Paragraph nine of the Waterbury editorial: "Opponents have a litany of objections to wind farms, including the scale of development, the intermittence of wind energy, noise, unsightliness, interference with television and radio reception, safety, danger to wildlife, and devaluation of property."
The Waterbury editorial "tilting at windmills" reads ... "more eagles are killed by wind turbines than were lost in the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill," says the National Audubon Society. If these turbines go up, "California condors could be sentenced to death." It seems that soaring birds such as eagles, condors and owls enjoy the same breezy spots that are good windmill sites.
Another Waterbury editorial could have been titled for the Banner editorial staff: "Windmills and windbags," but I doubt if it was. Publisher William J. Pape II's brilliant daily newspaper has proven it only cares about the truth.
Shouldn't all newspapers strive to give their readers the same trust?
JAMES K. LEACH
Northshire Bookstore invests in wind energy
article date: 10/04/2002
MANCHESTER CENTER - Northshire Bookstore announced Sept. 25 that it will help fight global warming by offsetting one year's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its Manchester location - while supporting the construction of a new wind turbine on the rolling grasslands of South Dakota.
"Given that being in business necessitates energy use, we feel that it is important to try to mitigate this pollution by contributing to a sustainable energy future," said Chris Morrow, the bookstore's general manager. "There is a widespread scientific consensus that global warming is real and getting worse - we don't want to be adding to the mess. All of us have an impact, both locally and globally, and increasingly there are creative ways to counterbalance our negative impacts by proactively creating a cleaner future."
Northshire Bookstore has secured the CO2 offsets through NativeEnergy's WindBuilders Business Partner program - an initiative that enables individuals and businesses to support new wind farm construction through the advance purchase of long-term streams of renewable energy credits, including the associated CO2 offsets. Revenue from Northshire Bookstore's purchase will support construction of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Wind Turbine Project - the first large-scale wind turbine in the country owned and operated by Native Americans - which is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is the largest industrial source of CO2 emissions in the U.S. New wind farms fight global warming by reducing the amount of electricity otherwise needed from power plants that burn fossil fuels. Through its purchase, Northshire Bookstore will secure 34.2 tons of CO2 - enough to offset the 2002 estimated CO2 emissions produced by its retail and office facility. Northshire will then donate the CO2 offsets to NativeEnergy's environmental non-profit partner, Clean Air-Cool Planet, which will "retire" the CO2 offsets to ensure that the Northshire's CO2 emissions are neutralized.
Founded in 2000 and based in North Ferrisburg, NativeEnergy offers individuals and businesses ways to fight climate change and global warming by helping to build new wind farms.
Planners close windmill hearing
article date: 09/27/2002
By Patrick Monroe
MANCHESTER - An audience of 25 heard from Bruce Peacock and Harley Lee from Endless Energy about the plans to place five large wind turbines on Little Equinox. Each turbine will have three blades that will have a spinning diameter of 155 feet.
These turbines are designed to generate enough electricity to handle the needs of 4,700 homes, about 9 megawatts.
There was some confusion as to whether or not any of the electricity would be used by local homes. The fact is that all electricity goes into the same energy pool, and users draw from that pool, the windmill representatives said. All of the energy is mixed together regardless of the source, they said.
The energy will travel down the mountain on existing poles, but new wiring will be installed. It will then travel along Rte. 7A and across land owned by Casella and eventually feed into the CVPS system.
Annette Smith of Danby said that she has become an activist, opposing the gas pipeline proposal as well as the OMYA project. She solidly supports the wind farm.
"This project is in the right direction," she said. "If you oppose this renewable energy project, be prepared to support an alternative. Do you want coal, oil, natural gas or nuclear? Where would you locate that kind of plant in your community?"
Another supporter was Dale Gulbrandsen, a board member of the Vermont Natural Resources Council. He lives on Lathrop Lane, near Skyline Drive.
"This is a project we should all support," he said.
Martin Sinclair of the Conservation Law Foundation also spoke in favor of the wind farm. He did suggest that prior to final approval there should be a decommission plan for the time when the turbines become obsolete.
Judy Harwood, who owns about 150 acres on both sides of Rte. 7A, said that she would never grant a right of way.
Peacock said that Harwood's property was not needed for the project.
Equinox General Manager Gary Thulander voiced some concerns about the possible impact on the hotel.
The windmill proponents pointed out that in Searsberg, where 60 originally opposed them, after they were built, 83 percent supported them.
"Will you support the Manchester School Fund when the turbines are finished?" asked Bob Stannard. Peacock said that they have already supported the fund to the extent of the current assessment. When completed the valuation of the property is expected to be about $9 million.
The Planning Commission heard the testimony and closed the hearing without taking a vote. The board can not approve or deny a permit for the wind project, but can be a party in the Section 248 Certificate of Public Good hearings.
In separate action, the planners agreed that the new location of Maple Street School behind Equinox Terrace would not cause a traffic impact on the roundabout or Rte. 7A.
Not in My Back Bay
Everybody likes the idea of windmills, but nobody wants to live near
them not even in Massachusetts
BY MARGOT ROOSEVELT
Massachusetts coastal residents are trying to keep windmills off their
Thursday, Sep. 26, 2002
Windmills make sense. they generate clean, renewable energy without
contributing to global warming or our reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
They are also big and bizarre-looking and can generate resistance in
heavily populated areas. So you would think there would be no easier
placeto build a wind farm than fivemiles off the coast of eco-friendly
But you would be wrong, judging by the reception Cape Wind Associates is
getting for its plan to build 170 high-tech windmills in the glittering
expanse of sea and sun that lies between Cape Cod and the islands of
Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Although local environmental groups
tend to support the $700million project the nation's first offshore
wind farm opposition is vehement. Air-traffic controllers worry that
the towers, each taller than the Statue of Liberty, would cause
accidents. Boaters say the windmills would interfere with navigation on
a 28-sq.mi. swath of prime sailing andfishing waters, as well as
endanger marine life and migrating birds. And theinhabitants of
million-dollar mansions don't want to look out their picture windows and
see hundreds of lights twinkling on the horizon. "It's a monstrous
industrial complex," protests Douglas Yearley, president of the newly
formed Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. "It will be a Christmas tree
out there every night."
Yearley, a retired ceo of Phelps Dodge Corp., a giant copper-mining
concern, joined the alliance when he realized that the windmills would
be clearly visible from his $3.2 million waterfront home in Osterville,
on Cape Cod. The group, which includes local businessmen and fishermen,
filed suit last month against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop
construction of a 197-ft. tower being built to collect wind data for the
developer. Two prominent Kennedys are lending support. Senator Edward
Kennedy, whose Hyannisport mansion faces the site, is pushing for a
National Academy of Sciences study to determine whether laws should be
enacted to govern offshore wind power, and Robert Kennedy Jr., a
prominent environmentalist, is raising money to halt the project. "We
wouldn't build a wind farm in the middle of Yosemite," he says. "People
want to look out and see the same sight the Pilgrims saw."
Cape Wind scoffs at charges that its wind farm would create a killing
field for migratory birds, insisting that the turbine blades turn too
slowly to do harm. It argues that rather than disturb fish, the towers'
foundations would attract marine life. "These fat cats with waterfront
estates go to cocktail parties and claim they're all for renewable
energy," says Cape Wind president Jim Gordon. "But when it comes to
their own views, it is pure nimbyism not in my backyard." From the
shore, he says, the windmills would be mere "specks on the horizon."
The Nantucket Sound battle will not be fully joined until Cape Wind's
environmental-impact statements are filed next year. Meanwhile, more
than 20 other offshore wind projects have been proposed for the East
Coast, from Massachusetts to Virginia. "There is no energy source today
with zero impact," says Alan Nogee of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
But who is going to suffer from it? With tensions rising in the Middle
East and war looming in Iraq, there are worse things to lose than an
unspoiled ocean view.
From the Sep. 30, 2002 issue of TIME magazine
September 25, 2002
Windmills in Manchester
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the good folks in Manchester Village and officials at the Equinox Hotel would object to windmills atop Little Equinox Mountain.
It would be in perfect keeping with the overall provincial attitude of villagers to object to anything built after about 1870. Modernity, in any form, is a detriment to pristine historic character and charm of the picturesque little Vermont village.
Balderdash. Poppycock. Rubbish.
This is the same village board that objected to the stately hotel using trucks to cart away private-label water from the hotel's springs, or allowing the hotel to build a pipeline that would carry water outside the historic village center.
This is the same village board that does not want big garbage trucks sent Route 7A (a state highway) but thinks it's okay to send the same Casella trucks careening past people's homes on narrow, secondary roads. The five windmills planned for the mountain top would stand 330 feet tall, according to Equinox General Manager Gary Thulander. They would be an eyesore which could send hotel guests packing.
"We paint a very natural picture for our guests," Thulander explained. "They want to come to a pristine, environmentally conscious area... We want to protect that."
What could be more environmentally conscious than windmills? Is there anything cleaner than wind to power electricity?
Village and hotel officials are off-base on this one. Way off base. A drive past the windmills in Searsburg would be an eye-opener for them. We recommend a 45-minute drive southeast to see them if they can force themselves to leave the safety of the village. The windmills are big; they are beautiful with their modern sleek lines. They are graceful and quiet. The Searsburg windmills inspire awe -- just as the ones atop Little Equinox would.
Imagine, the windmills might even become a tourist attraction, drawing more folks to the area than ever before. Then what would the hotel do?
Thar she blows
article date: 09/20/2002
It's no secret that the winds atop Equinox Mountain's 3,816-foot summit can get a good gust going.
Two attempts have been made to try and harness that potential energy - and both failed due to inadequate technology.
Now comes Catamount Energy Corporation, a subsidiary of Central Vermont Public Service, equipped with technology they say is up to the task where the others failed.
Residents who remember the windmills of yore recall telling visitors that they helped cool off golfers. Others remember how, when the wind got to howling you could hear the hum of the blades. Some tell of television interference related to the windmills.
Representatives of Catamount, for the last several months, have been visiting local towns, answering board members' questions, giving presentations and asking for input.
The Bennington County Regional Commission is taking a hard look at the question of visual impact, and is expected to make a recommendation soon.
When Catamount makes an application for the five-windmill project, possibly in October, it will be to the Vermont Public Service Board for a Section 248 Certificate of Public Good.
Any construction would need to conform with local and state planning guidelines, but Act 250 and local permits are not needed, according to state law.
The public service board will convene a hearing and take testimony, deliberate and make their decision based on the facts they receive.
Local boards and the regional commission are currently considering the potential benefits and impacts, which they will provide to the public service board.
Now is the time for citizens to let their elected and appointed officials know where they stand on this question.
In the grand scheme of things, Manchester has an opportunity to play a small role in breaking free from depending on fossil fuels, which have been linked to global climate change.
In the microcosm of Manchester there are concerns about our beautiful ridgeline.
The Manchester Planning Commission on Monday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall will be talking with the folks from Catamount again. The public is invited.
This will be a good opportunity for residents to learn more about the proposed project and ask questions of Catamount.
We encourage citizens to educate themselves, share their views with town officials and become involved in the process.
These types of decisions are not ones to take lightly, as their outcomes stand to have long-term effects - on all sides,
Trustees learn about Equinox wind energy
article date: 09/20/2002
By Annette Sharon
Manchester Journal Editor
MANCHESTER - Village Trustees Monday heard from Bob Charlebois, a representative of Catamount Energy Corporation, about a proposed wind farm on Equinox Mountain.
He described the project as five turbines that would produce nine megawatts of power located on Little Equinox in the same locations where windmills have previously stood.
There are not many suitable wind sites in Vermont, Carlebois said, and the Little Equinox site offers a "unique opportunity to provide renewable energy in the state."
A survey of appropriate sites for wind farms in New England found 46 locations. That list was shortened to the best eight, and three of those are in Vermont.
"You have to have a robust wind environment over 3,000 feet," he said. "There are very few ridgelines with road access."
The benefits of Little Equinox over other mountain ranges include the pre-existing road to the mountaintop and the fact that the proposed site has already been disturbed, having been host to two previous wind farm attempts, Charlebois said.
The windmills would produce enough power to provide electricity to 4,500 homes, he said, with the electricity going into the New England Power grid. He has a commitment from Burlington Electric to purchase an equivalent amount of electricity from Central Vermont Public Service. Catamount Energy is a subsidiary of CVPS.
Modern windmill technology has made them more efficient, quieter and more streamlined in appearance, he said. Each tower would be 200 feet tall, and each blade 130 feet long, with three blades on each windmill.
In terms of support for wind power, 70 percent of Vermont residents favor renewable energy, he said, and the wind farm is consistent with the state's energy policy.
Charlebois explained that because this is an energy production facility, any application would go before the Vermont Public Service Board rather than local regulatory boards.
The wind farm developers would apply to the PSB for a Section 248 Certificate of Public Good, Charlebois said. The PSB would then hold hearings and take testimony from statutory parties, which include municipal boards and the regional planning commission.
Nevertheless, he said, any building would still have to conform to local regulations.
While no date has been set for a hearing, Charlebois said, they expect to be submitting an application in October.
Village Trustee Brian Knight said that when the hearing is called the trustees will determine whether to support or oppose it.
Trustee Donald Brodie, participating in the meeting via speakerphone, said, "I think the Village of Manchester should oppose this project."
Knight said he didn't know enough and wants to hear what the Bennington County Regional Commission suggested at its meeting on Sept. 19.
Charlebois has made presentations to the Manchester Planning Commission and Select Board, and the towns of Sandgate and Sunderland. He will appear before the Manchester Planning Commission again Monday, Sept. 23
at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall.
Manchester Journal Letter to Editor 9/20/02
Wind Turbines on Little Equinox: fact and fiction
To the Editor:
By now, it is fairly common knowledge that a new proposal is being considered to place five wind turbines on Little Equinox Mountain in Manchester. Given current world events, one might think the idea of generating renewable, pollution free electricity would be welcomed warmly. Unfortunately, there seems to be a groundswell of opposition forming to this concept. It is hard to understand why.
Population is increasing. Demands upon all forms of natural resources continue to grow. Electrical consumption rises annually, despite efforts to conserve. No new nuclear plants are being built, due to concerns about radioactive waste that will last for eons. Coal plants are opposed because they cause air pollution and global warming. In our own region, recent opposition to a pipeline that would have served a gas fired power plant was fierce. Others fight hydroelectric dams, saying they disrupt riverine ecosystems and fish habitat. How, then, do we as a society intend to generate electricity? Wind power seems by far the most benign source. It is constantly renewable, and it creates no pollution while generating power. It may not be the most reliable source on a day-to-day basis, but as part of a prudent, diversified mix, it's hard to find a more simple, efficient, effective source.
Here in Manchester, we are often recognized for our pro-active and successful approaches to land use planning. We have the kind of compact, attractive, pedestrian-friendly downtown that thousands of other communities desperately seek. We work on tree planting and land conservation initiatives to maintain a balance between the natural and built environments. We have beautiful mountains surrounding our peaceful valley.
Concerns have been raised about aesthetics, and the view of the Equinox skyline if turbines were built. Well, we have had turbines there before, several times in fact. The new turbines would certainly be larger than the previous ones, but the site is already disturbed. There is no new habitat or landscape to disrupt. Statements have also been made that "there is no benefit to Manchester, because the electricity is not staying here." In fact, no one can ever know where specific electrons may travel or be used. Electricity generally flows into transmission lines, is regulated at the regional level, and goes where it is needed. The fact that Burlington Electric would buy the Equinox windpower is basically a paper, market transaction.
Are we to pretend that Manchester is an island unto itself, where we use only the resources found and created in our little valley? Where do we think that our electricity comes from today? It could be from Vermont Yankee, or coal plants in the midwest, or perhaps McNeil Station in Burlington itself which sells electricity to CVPS. Where does our gasoline come from? Suppose that the residents of Louisiana said they wanted no more oil tankers or refineries, because the oil and gasoline produced would benefit residents elsewhere? Where do we think most of our food comes from? Certainly not solely from our farmers in Bennington County. Indeed, our idyllic lifestyle, and much of our economy, exists because we are able to import virtually everything we use or consume.
To suggest that we should not have five wind turbines on Little Equinox because we don't want to look at them is selfish at best. Like it or not, electricity, like water and other natural or man made resources, is an essential currency in our society. It has become a necessity, and it's simply unfair to suggest that we should derive all of society's benefits without helping to pay the price. If anything, we should celebrate the arrival of this type of renewable, pollution free energy source in our valley. We should support it, and tout it as one more element of our progressive approach to land use and a sustainable lifestyle. If five turbines on our mountain is all we have to "pay" to enjoy our profligate use of electricity, we are truly blessed. If you believe otherwise, try living near a strip mine, or a coal fired power plant sometime.
Interestingly, there was similar concern over in Somerset before that wind turbine project was built. Now that the turbines are in place, public concern over aesthetics has diminished, and support for the turbines has increased greatly.
Here on our side of the mountain, the Bennington County Regional Plan supports energy conservation, and a diversified mix of energy production, and supports wind energy in general and specifically in forested upland areas (after all, where else can it go?). The Manchester Town Plan also speaks to conservation, and specifically supports research and development of alternative, ecologically sound energy sources such as solar and wind power. Even the Manchester Village Plan specifically "encourages clean, non-polluting [energy] sources...".
Of course, all three plans also speak to the need to consider appropriate locations and other potential impacts; no one suggests that we build willy nilly across the landscape. However, we should not advocate policies that we don't intend to support. If we say we support wind power, we must realize it has to happen up high. That's where the
Nor is this to suggest that we want wind turbines across the entire Equinox ridgeline. That might be going too far, and might be too disruptive on many counts. The actual proposal before us is for five wind turbines, only on Little Equinox, and within an already disturbed area that has hosted turbines before. The power line already runs down the mountain. Where the new line might be visible along Route 7A, it will be run underground.
Wind power is a benign method of producing energy. It will offer enough electricity to power hundreds of homes, wherever they may be, and will offer one small step toward a more sustainable and environmentally sound future. It will offer a more diversified energy portfolio, which these days, should itself be good reason to proceed. As a community, we should support this proposal for the benefits it can provide to our region and our nation.
Lee A. Krohn
Mountain wind project draws criticism
September 20, 2002
By PETER CRABTREE Herald Staff
MANCHESTER Officials from the Equinox Hotel and the Village of Manchester voiced strong concerns Thursday about the potential aesthetic impact of a wind energy farm on Little Equinox Mountain.
But proponents argued that projects environmental benefits far outweighed any effect on the areas scenery, noting that the mountain had been home to other wind projects in recent years.
Equinox Wind Partners, a joint venture between Catamount Energy Corp. of Rutland and Endless Energy of Maine, hopes to erect five wind turbines along the Little Equinox ridgeline.
The structures would consist of a 200-foot-tall tower and a rotor with three 130-foot blades. The overall height would be 330 feet.
By comparison, the Bennington Battle Monument is 306 feet tall. Green Mountain Power Corp.s wind turbines in Searsburg are 198 feet tall. The tallest turbine previously on Little Equinox measured 130 feet.
Bruce Peacock, the projects managing director, told the Bennington County Regional Commission on Thursday that his company intended to apply to the Public Service Board for a permit next month.
Although the Village of Manchester has not yet taken a formal position, its representative to the commission said the project was of very great concern.
Arthur Scutro called the wind farm a severe alteration of the pristine nature of the mountain. If the scenery that the historic village looks out on is spoiled it could harm the economy, he said.
The Equinox Hotels general manager expressed similar concerns. Gary Thulander emphasized that he was not opposed to wind power. But the five turbines would be visible from the rear of the hotel and its golf course, among other places.
We paint a very natural picture for our guests. ... They want to come to a pristine, environmentally conscious area, Thulander said. We bring in almost 40,000 people to this area every year. We want to protect that.
Peacock said, however, that the mountain was hardly pristine. Among the reasons it is ideal for a wind project is that there is an access road to the site and an existing power line.
James Henderson, a planner with the commission, noted that there is an inn at the top of nearby Mount Equinox, which is home to Lake Madeline, the largest Army Corps of Engineers project on private land in the United States.
Everybodys opinion of pristine is different, Henderson said.
In response to questions from the projects critics, Peacock said his company had combed New England looking for suitable sites for a wind project, but none in Vermont neared Little Equinoxs potential.
We believe the Equinox project will have a small impact and big benefits, he said.
Commission members were not only concerned about the height of the turbines, but the aesthetic impact of lighting them at night to protect aircraft.
Peacock said the Federal Aviation Administration might be open to installing a single red beacon on one of the towers rather than on all five.
The placement of the lights within a 12-foot-wide unit at the top of the 200-foot-tall towers should shield them from being seen from immediately below, Peacock said.
The project won the support of Bill Jakubowski, an at-large member of the commission. Wind power is infinitely cleaner than burning coal or oil to produce electricity, he said.
Lets talk honestly. ... We have to say wind power is the way to go, Jakubowski said.
Saturday, September 07, 2002
Wind towers continue to generate controversy
By ANDREW McKEEVER
MANCHESTER -- A proposal to build five wind towers in Manchester to provide electric power for homes in Burlington is drawing some controversy.
At issue is the visual impact of the towers on which the wind-driven turbines would be mounted. According to Bob Charle, a managing director of the Catamount Energy subsidiary of Central Vermont Public Service and one of the partners in the wind generation project, the towers and windmills would each be about 330 feet high when the blades are vertical.
Some local residents are not thrilled about having the five large turbines dotting the ridgeline of Equinox.
Don Brodie, a resident of Manchester Village, believes the scenic mountain range is the wrong place for the wind project.
"What benefits are there for Manchester in the Burlington contract?" he said. "There is a place for wind power in the United States, but there are better places to put it."
Brodie said he felt the economic benefits did not outweigh the aesthetic damage caused by having five large and visible wind turbines on the mountaintop, which also will need flashing lights to meet Federal Aviation Administration standards.
William Downey, a Manchester resident who owns property near the proposed site, is also concerned about the visual impact.
"You look up at that and that's all you'll see," he said.
Downey recalled that he could hear the old ones when they were running.
The ridgeline of "Little Equinox" has been the site of two previous attempts to install windmills to generate electric power, but neither was successful.
"Everything is a trade off," said Lee Krohn, planning director for Manchester, noting that he was speaking for himself and not for the board. "Wind is part of the energy mix. We all share and use resources that come from different places."
Charle said that the towers and blades would be painted a non-reflective gray that would minimize the visual impact. He disputed the contention that there were plenty of other locations to put the wind towers.
"The fact of the matter is that there aren't many sites in Vermont to host these types of wind projects," he said.
Charle said Catamount is hopeful of negotiating an arrangement with the FAA that would limit the necessary lighting to only one light on the tallest tower.
The noise levels produced by the turbines is negligible, he said. The blades rotate very slowly - about one revolution every three seconds - so that noise "will not be a factor," Charle said.
The project is being developed under government regulations which override local authority, since the impact of the project extends beyond the host community. Typically towns are included in the preliminary discussion of the projects and seek to conform to local ordinances, Charle said.
The Manchester Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing on the proposal Monday, Sept. 23.
Vermonters for a Clean Environment, Inc.