The unanswered questions raised by Swanton Wind

Our community has taken a great interest in the proposed Swanton Industrial Wind Project. The best way to insure a good project is to ask good questions.

We need to focus on the facts and what the real benefits and impacts are of any potential project.

Here are some facts and some additional questions about this proposed project.

How many acres of forest would be required to be clear cut? The developer states that they will clear cut 39 acres of forest on a Rocky Ridge.

Another measure ANR uses to gauge the impact of a project is the number of acres of disturbed soil. How many acres of disturbed soil will this project create? Disturbed soil on a ridge line means potential erosion. Will this amount of disturbed soil increase the risk of runoff and add to pollution in our lake?

How many acres of impervious surfaces would this project create? The developer has stated the project will create 9 acres of impervious surfaces on Rocky Ridge. For reference, the Walmart parking lot in St Albans is 7 acres. Would a Walmart sized impervious surface on a ridge line pose a threat to water quality in the lake?

Where will the stormwater runoff go? The developer says 95% of the water flowing off Rocky Ridge will flow toward Lake Champlain and 5% will flow toward Fairfield Pond. Will this project help improve water quality or does it pose a threat to water quality in our lakes?

What if the stormwater system fails? The Lowell wind project had a stormwater violation and Green Mountain Power had to pay a $58,000 fine. (NVDA Wind Study)

How many bats and birds will be killed by the turbines? Green Mountain Power is making a payment of $18,438 annually to support Vermont’s bat colony conservation efforts as a form of mitigation for the loss of bats at the Lowell wind project. (NVDA Wind Study)

Consumption of electricity accounts for only the most effective way of reducing the state’s GHG emissions. If the reduction of GHG emissions is a goal, it is clear reductions may be achievable by addressing the state’s larger contributors: transportation and heating. (NVDA Wind Study)

The developer put up a met tower without the required permit. The permit is called a certificate of public good. Will the developer share the information that he gathered from this met tower in order to prove that his proposed industrial wind project represents a “public good” and can deliver on his power production promises?

The actual production at Lowell and Sheffield have not lived up to promise. Lowell promised 33% and at last reporting period was 17%. Sheffield promised 32% but their 2012 production was 23%. (NVDA Wind Study) What is Swanton Wind promising for capacity?

Why does the developer’s map show putting roads and turbine pads in wetland buffers? Would a project that proposed building a hotel on top of Rocky Ridge be allowed by ANR?

Who will benefit from this electricity? Many solar and wind energy projects in Vermont are being used to sell REC’s (renewable energy credits) to Massachusetts and Connecticut. Do we want wind turbines on our ridge lines to benefit the renewable energy portfolios of other states?

What are the safeguards for protecting the health of the families living near these turbines? Families in Lowell, Sheffield and Georgia Mt report the turbine noise keeps them awake at night. How many people and communities is it OK to sacrifice for wind turbines?

Why aren’t we allowing our communities to have a say in the siting of wind turbines? Why is it that 3 unelected people on the Public Service Board have the ability to force this on a community for “the public good?”

Why aren’t we, as a state, trying to find sitings for wind turbine projects that are safe distances from homes and communities?

What are the best noise standards to protect the health of those living around wind turbines?

People should be able to use their land as they choose. But what if their choice hurts their neighbors?

Brian Dubie

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