Quantcast

Wind power sharply divides Vermonters - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Wind power sharply divides Vermonters

Posted: Updated:
SHEFFIELD, Vt. -

Looking out over the vibrant patchwork of colors, residents and visitors to the Northeast Kingdom have noticed a new addition to the landscape this fall-- wind turbines.

The sight is pleasing to some.

"I think we need more sources of energy and I've seen them and they don't seem to be that bad," said Nancy Kantar of Lyndon.

But others want nothing to do with it.

"It's just sad that they've ruined our ridgeline," said Chad Tollmann of Albany.

With Sheffield's wind farm up and running, Lowell Mountain about to go online, and other developments on the drawing board, many Vermonters remain torn about placing industrial wind turbines on Vermont ridgelines.

It's a calm day in Sheffield, but even the slight breeze is spinning the turbines.

"Eight miles an hour will have them spinning and generating," said Brad Drake, the operations manager for First Wind. "The most satisfying thing to see those turbines spinning is the fact that you have 100 percent clean energy going into the grid and that's very satisfying to see renewable energy here in Vermont, staying in Vermont, being produced locally and used locally."

At peak performance, the $90 million project provides 40 megawatts of electricity-- enough to power about 15,000 homes.

The majority of Sheffield residents support the project and the half-a-million dollars annually it adds to town coffers.

"These people that complain about these ridge tops maybe go up to 'em what-- maybe twice a year? Then they say it's their ridge, their mountain. Well, it ain't. It's whoever pays the tax on that mountaintop. It don't belong to everybody," said Jason DeGreenia of Sheffield.

Although the number of turbines and their locations were sharply scaled back from original plans, the project has also always had its share of opponents, especially from folks in neighboring towns who don't get financial benefits from the turbines but still have to look at them.

"This is something that is not good for Vermont. It will be a huge impact for our area and our town and Barton," said Bob Michaud of Sutton at a PSB wind hearing in 1997.

These turbines began spinning a year ago this month, and until the Kingdom Community Wind Project in Lowell comes online in a few months, they remain the best example of ridgeline industrial wind in Vermont.

A short drive from Sheffield heading south on Route 14, the turbines on Lowell Mountain are part of the new skyline. If negotiating with opponents was a challenge for developers in Sheffield, Lowell this past summer put that situation in a whole new perspective. Police arrested protestors camping in the construction zone and later in the summer blocking roadways to disrupt delivery of turbines.

While Lowell voted to support the project-- like Sheffield-- some nearby residents continue to feel disenfranchised.

"If you want to see those, you go to Pennsylvania or somewhere. You don't go to Vermont," said Gay Mason of Albany.

From his front yard, Mason has a clear view of the Lowell ridgeline.

"I don't like 'em, and there quite a few people who don't. I think they got suckered into it-- Lowell did," Mason said. "It was the money that was doing the talking."

"I know there are some folks that don't like the project, but it was very, very important to us that the majority did and that they said, yes, we want it here," Mary Powell of Green Mountain Power said on WCAX's "You Can Quote Me" in August.

With the Shumlin administration's goal of Vermont getting 90 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2050, the battle over Vermont's ridgelines may only just be beginning.

"In the Northeast Kingdom, the ridgelines are priceless to us," said Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia County. "This is our tourism industry. This is what people come to the Northeast Kingdom for-- to see our mountains and our ridges. When you start to destroy that environment, you're having a negative impact on not only the image of Vermont, but the economic well being of all of us."

"You've got these ski slopes over here-- people didn't like to look at them, but now you've got them everywhere. What's the difference? It don't make no difference to me," DeGreenia said.

"This uproar varies from location to location and I think the wind companies have done, have tried to involve the local communities in these decisions and I think some have done a better job than others," said Gary Flomenhoft, a fellow at the UVM Gund Institute.

What made for a challenging climate in Sheffield and Lowell, may prove impossible at Seneca Mountain; the next major Vermont wind project in the works.

Related Story:

The battle over wind power on Vt. ridgelines

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:59:03 GMT
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
  • 2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:52 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:52:13 GMT
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
  • Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:08:26 GMT
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
  • Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:59 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:59:21 GMT
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
  • Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:52 GMT
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
  • Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:32:03 GMT
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
  • Body discovered in Massena

    Body discovered in Massena

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:02 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:02:43 GMT
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
  • Community remembers O'Hagan's presence at Sheffield Field Days

    Community remembers O'Hagan's presence at Sheffield Field Days

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:54 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:54:21 GMT

    Sheffield Field Days is a Labor Day tradition -- attended by hundreds. But each year the event reminds the community who is missing.

    Sheffield Field Days is a Labor Day tradition -- attended by hundreds. But each year the event reminds the community who is missing.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.