Wind energy advocates debate aesthetics, functionality

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(Host) Opponents of a large wind energy project planned for southern Vermont want a moratorium on wind turbine development. They argue a delay would give the state time to sort out which mountaintops are best suited for wind generation.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Sam Lloyd of Weston used to serve in the House in the 1970s. This week, Lloyd was back in Montpelier to speak out against a large wind energy development that’s planned for a mountain ridge in Windham County.

The Catamount Energy Corporation of Rutland wants to build up to 27 turbines – each about 330 feet tall – along Glebe Mountain. Lloyd says the tall towers would have to be lighted and could be a scenic blight on the ridgeline. And he questions the long term benefits of the project

(Lloyd) “Would the wind power produced on Glebe Mountain and other ridgelines make Vermont less dependent on outside fossil fuel and nuclear power? The answer would have to be no. Wind power is so unreliable and intermittent that it requires back up generating facilities for the substantial amount of time that the turbines are not producing energy.”

(Dillon) Lloyd told lawmakers that Vermont faces a wind energy boom that threatens a number of scenic areas. He says there should be a moratorium on new projects while the state evaluates the pros and cons of this development.

Robert Charlebois of Catamount Energy says the state already has strict regulatory review for new energy projects.

(Charlebois) “I don’t understand what a moratorium is intended to do. The point I’m trying to make is that I think the tools are already in place for the state to fairly evaluate each of these projects on a case-by-case basis. And it takes a long time even under the best of conditions to develop a wind energy project in Vermont. And in the meantime, the state has significant issues in front of it in terms of where the energy is going to come from.”

(Dillon) Charlebois and other developers say new wind projects are far more reliable than their critics realize. They say wind power could ultimately meet about 20% of the state’s energy needs.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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