The news this week from the northern and southern parts of the state is sobering.
In the north, over 100 protesters blocked Route 100 on Monday when contractors for Green Mountain Power attempted to truck a section of a massive wind turbine onto the construction site.
The protesters, who were peaceful, well organized and polite, exercised their constitutional right to assemble in protest. They held up traffic on the highway for two hours and caused traffic to back up for several miles in both directions.
Their point was made and their point is valid – is it really “green” to remove the tops of mountains and create roads to install massive wind turbines whose efficiency and “greenness” has not been proven?
Vermont’s system for approving the installation of alternative energy projects rests in the hands of the state’s public service board and while it requires the board to review and perhaps consider local standards, unless those standards are expressly written in a Town Plan, the board is not required to use those standards.
To the south, in Windham, where town officials and residents are raising concerns about a similar wind project proposed for WoodMountain, by Iberdrola, people are asking that their Town Plan and the process be respected. Consider the words of Windham Select Board chair Mary Boyer spoken at a July 11 public meeting.
“In my six years on the board there's been only one issue that the board faced that brought people out in large numbers to express themselves. That single issue was the proposal to put a commercial wind development on WoodMountain. The numbers of people who expressed in writing their opposition to industrial wind scale in Windham was overwhelming 287 to 15.
“The current Town Plan is the embodiment of that expression of informed collective opinion. We know more about the issue involved in siting these projects today. We know more about the limits to their potential to fulfill the environmental prophecies that are waiting. But none of that changes the fact that commercial scale wind projects, as the one being considered by Iberdrola and Meadowsend, are not a permitted use of our forested areas.
“We would like the Governor to know unequivocally… we would like him to know that. We would ask the Governor how he expects the fourth smallest town, in the 49th smallest state, to advocate for ourselves, against a multi-national corporation with more than $40 billion dollars in revenue.”
How, indeed, Governor Shumlin?