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Rendezvous around renewables

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IRASBURG, Vt. -

Energy issues are a hot-button topic in Vermont. In Irasburg this weekend, different protesting groups are meeting to try to find common ground.

The energy debate is often divisive in the Northeast and tensions run high. From arrests at the wind farm in Lowell to pipeline demonstrations that pitted police against protesters in Burlington.

But this weekend, there's a much calmer conversation about renewable resources in Irasburg.

"It does not make sense because it gives us so little energy that we also don't need at such a high cost, in terms of money and in terms of destruction of our environment and possibly our economy," said Grafton resident Liisa Kissell.

This meet-up, called the Rendezvous, aims to help different protesting groups find common ground so they can support each other.

"We're hoping to start building a conversation about how we can work together instead of in isolated pods, to make some substantial changes in how we live on the earth." said attendee Anne Morse.

Morse works with Green Mountain Occupiers, a group that opposes industrial-scale wind projects like the one on Lowell Mountain. Green Mountain Power says it will bring enough electricity to power 24,000 homes. Morse says she isn't opposed to turbines but says the size of the project is a problem.

"I believe that solutions need to come from the people in the area. They need to be localized solutions, they need to be generated by and for people. They need to be controlled by people. And that's not a model we are working with right now," Morse said.

Organizers say the farm is a perfect spot for conversation about energy issues. The Portland-Montreal pipeline crosses the farm on the hills, and you can see the Sheffield and Lowell wind projects from the town.

"There's an urgent need to re-think the energy system," said Peter Brown of McGill University.

Brown is an environmental professor at McGill University and says instead of focusing on economic growth policies need to start with the earth.

"We have to try to find, as best we can, scientific certainty about the limits of what we can do with carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses and stay within those. There's no compromising with that," Brown said.

Policy differences aside, there's one thing they all agree on. There won't be any easy solution. The Rendezvous continues Sunday. Admission is free, though donations are requested to offset the event's cost.

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