I was one of about 100 people who recently visited Lowell Mountain. I support the idea of getting off petroleum, have visited wind farms in the United States and Canada, and I didn’t understand what all the controversy was about. Isn’t this what Vermont needs to begin breaking our dependence on foreign oil? Isn’t this a green project, for it is supported by our governor and the Agency of Natural Resources?
Wasn’t the permitting process designed to protect the people of Vermont and the lands we love? Apparently not.
The hike up the mountain on an early December day was glorious. But upon reaching the summit one could view, across the “do not trespass” boundary tape, the incredible destruction and desecration of Lowell Mountain! The ridge is being blasted away and leveled, industrial roads, some of them larger than the interstate, are being created and massive clearing of the forest is happening. The scale of the project is astounding. When completed and online, estimated to be in December of 2012, there will be a 2.5-mile road 30 to 80 feet wide with a 152-foot cleared width leading to the ridgeline.
On top of the mountain there will be a four-mile cleared area between 190 and 215 feet wide, expanding to 450 feet at each of the 21 turbines. These turbines, each 459 feet tall from the tip of the rotor to the base, will be the 21 largest structures in the state. To put this in perspective, the tallest structure to date in Vermont is the Bennington battle Monument at 306 feet. A 459-foot structure is a 40-floor building. Now imagine it on a ridgeline. And imagine 21 of them.
It was ironic to look to the west out over the valley in the mid-afternoon December light, and if one knew where to look, you could see a faint glimmer of the wind tower over at Butterworks Farm. That is the kind of wind power we should be encouraging here in Vermont: low-scale, energy-efficient projects that are located where the energy is needed and used; towers that don’t require lighting and don’t destroy habitat; and wind turbines that are manageable to erect and run.
I urge everyone who supports the idea of wind power to become educated on this project. The only thing green about it is the federal subsidies, that is, our tax dollars that Green Mountain Power is to receive if they can get the project online in time.
This project is not for Vermont or Vermonters. The electricity generated will be fed into the New England electric grid, along the way losing up to 75 percent of what has been generated. How quickly we forget what happened so shortly ago in Connecticut when the power went off and folks were left without electricity for days on days.
Local electrical production, conservation, solar panels and mass transportation will do far more to help us reduce our carbon footprint and move into a sustainable future.
Please get informed on this issue and help stop industrial wind projects in Vermont and beyond.
Mary Fettig lives in Montpelier.