Editor’s note: This op-ed is by George Plumb of Washington.
Utility-scale wind is not a suitable alternative electricity generation option for Vermont for a variety of reasons but one extremely important one that hasn’t been discussed. The wind towers are out of scale with what we value in Vermont. While we may enjoy visiting the big cities we are always delighted to return because we cherish our local and small scale working landscape, our relatively small communities with their modest population, and the scenic natural environment where we spend so much time.
Industrial wind towers are huge. They are 400’ tall! They are not of human scale. The tallest buildings in Vermont in our most densely populated cities are only 125’ tall.
Many who have had even a small number of wind towers go up in their area are very unhappy with the results. One of these places is Vinalhaven, Maine. Here is what Cheryl Lindgren, a member of Fox Islands Wind Neighbors, a group of concerned residents working toward responsible renewable energy on Vinyl Haven had to say about wind towers in a column in the November 12, 2010, issue of the Portland Press Herald, “Our experience has forced me to look into the deeper issues of industrial wind — the technology, the economics and the politics. It has been an uncomfortable journey that has changed my once honey-eyed vision of easy, green power to a view that industrial wind energy is, at present, bad science, bad economics and bad politics.”
These wind towers also have major impacts on the natural environment. Susan Morse, a much respected environmentalist who works on protecting wildlife habitat states, “At their best, even the most brilliant wind turbine infrastructure doesn’t belong on a mountain any more than oil drilling belongs in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We need to completely and irrevocably protect these precious places, large and small alike – habitats that are not continuously compromised and damaged by our activities. Such intact habitats along Vermont’s mountain ridgelines will play an integral role as global climate change forces countless species of plants and animals to adjust and find new habitats in which to survive and persist.”
Instead of massive wind towers that are out of scale let’s develop incentives for locally owned and installed solar options. I have put in an AllSun Tracker system and couldn’t be happier with the fact that although it is relatively large as solar panels go it is still of a scale that doesn’t dominate the landscape.