Editor’s note: This commentary is by Christine Lang, who lives in Swanton and is a concerned neighbor to the proposed Swanton Wind project.Anti-wind minority? I think that a lot of people think of wind energy in the abstract as good. Oh, wind turbines, yeah, that is great. Then, when they dig into the details and see what it does to our green mountains and our communities, they realize it isn’t all it is cracked up to be. The Swanton community realized it wasn’t a good fit for their town when they voted 731-160 against the Swanton Wind project.
Wind in Vermont is working only for a very few who are making money off it. Oh, and by the way, the only way money is being made on wind projects is by taking taxpayer subsidies in the form of Production Tax Credits and selling the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) out of state, which means that the projects don’t even count towards Vermont’s goals. And just remember, the state of Vermont has already stated that none of what we do in Vermont will help in the fight against climate change.
In the Swanton Wind application, the Belisles have left themselves open to selling their RECs out of state. So, I find it hard to figure out how they are doing this to help Vermont meet its so-called goal. If you sell the RECs out of state, it doesn’t count towards Vermont’s renewable energy. And these wind turbines will be obsolete before we reach 2050 anyway, so they are never even going to make it to our goal.
As far as the real estate values go, I would like to see a report of home values for homes within a half mile of a wind project. There are approximately 34 homes within a half mie of the Swanton Wind project. Next, let’s see a report of home values between a half and 1 mile from a wind project. There are approximately 124 homes within that range for the Swanton Wind project. At the Swanton Wind open house, they were showing home sales for homes 5 and 10 miles away that couldn’t even see the project. That is not a helpful report when so many homes are so close to this proposed project. As for the buy-out they are offering, this might be a step in the right direction to compensate owners but it needs a lot more detail. And it doesn’t resolve the issue of the homeowners who love their homes and don’t want to move. What is the fair market value that they are going to get – pre-turbine or post-turbine? Who is going to pay the moving expenses for families that are uprooted? Where are they going to go? There are many more questions than answers.
Logic says that if you have problems at existing projects, you don’t build a new one that is larger and closer to homes.
This project is stating that it may power up to 7,300 Vermont homes. Is that if it runs at 100 percent efficiency? Wind projects tend to run at 25-30 percent maximum efficiency at best, so that number is more like 1,825 to 2,190 homes, and only when the wind is blowing.
Phil Scott has listened to the citizens of Vermont who are suffering at existing industrial wind projects in the state. As the Comprehensive Energy Plan states, we should learn from our existing wind projects before moving forward with others. Phil Scott is a good businessman who knows that shoving renewable energy down the throats of Vermonters is not the way to advance the state’s goals.
The existing wind projects in Vermont have divided communities and pitted neighbors against neighbors. A better solution to renewable energy is to have communities working together on solutions. In addition, logic says that if you have problems at existing projects, you don’t build a new one that is larger and closer to homes. Thankfully, Phil Scott is looking at the logic.
Before you call me a NIMBY, you should be aware that I do not want this in anyone’s backyard. I look around this state that I love and I do not want it turned into an industrial wind turbine wasteland. If the state covered 200 miles of ridgeline with wind turbines, that is what our state would look like. If this project is to go in, no home is too close and no ridge is too small for industrial wind turbines in Vermont. Look around you, especially this fall. Take some pictures because it could all be gone in the future and all for an intermittent energy source.