Advocates, detractors debate wind energy

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(Host) Opponents in the debate over commercial wind farms on Vermont’s ridgelines squared off in Chester Wednesday night.

Wind power advocate John Berkowitz is the director of Southern Vermonters for a Fair Economy and Environmental Protection. Berkowitz said reliance on foreign oil has led to conflicts overseas. He said environmental problems caused by burning fossil fuels pose a serious threat.

He also said Vermont needs new energy sources. Vermont Yankee’s license and the Hydro-Quebec contract are both due to expire in the next decade.

(Berkowitz) “With about six wind farms scattered around the state, with about 25 turbines in each one, it would generate about ten percent of our electric needs. It may not sound like much, it doesn’t match the 71 percent of power we need to replace from Vermont Yankee and Hydro-Quebec. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle.”

(Host) Berkowitz said other pieces include the purchase of hydro dams on the Connecticut, woodchip plants and other renewable energy alternatives.

Sam Lloyd is the co-chairman of a group that’s fighting a plan to build 27 wind turbines on top of Glebe Mountain in Londonderry. He questioned whether large scale wind power is environmentally friendly if it involves building of three miles of 300-foot towers:

(Lloyd) “Standing on 14-by-14 foot concrete columns, sunk 15 feet into our ridgelines, with who-knows what effect on pristine waters, with each tower needing plus or minus an acre of clear-cut mountainside.”

(Host) Lloyd also said that wind farms are a new situation that doesn’t fit the current utility siting law. Governor Jim Douglas has put applications for wind farms on hold while a commission studies whether that law is adequate.

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