VPIRG a shill for wind industry and the industry is wrong

St. Albans Messenger Letter to the Editor April 27, 2017

Sarah Wolfe, for those who haven’t followed industrial wind matters, is a paid hireling of the shadowy cabal behind industrial wind in Vermont. She works for VPIRG, a non-government organization which receives major funding from industrial wind interests. Wolfe’s apologia in behalf of her financial benefactors is full of half-truths and many outright mis-statements. I’ll be clear from the start where my interests lie. I’m a strong supporter of any renewable energy project that is done right and which strives to be a positive influence in the renewable energy movement. Industrial wind in Vermont could be such a movement, but presently it is not. Sadly, the Vermont industrial wind movement is all about nailing down lucrative monetary incentives promulgated by the federal government. The Vermont industrial wind cabal and its shill, VPIRG, care not one whit about promoting carefully thought out wind projects designed to save our environment, not destroy it, along with our precious eco-systems.

Every single one of the major industrial wind projects presently built-out in Vermont represent a seriously failed design concept—they’ve been built too close to the homes of Vermont citizens and those citizens have suffered from the offensive noise such projects produce. The continual noise from industrial wind turbines cannot be compared to road traffic or other noises we’ve become accustomed to. It is more like an airplane flying directly overhead that never lands. Instead of getting behind a new SOUND RULE which could protect Vermonters from their noise predations (and perhaps encourage developers to work with their neighbors and communities) the Vermont wind movement wants to water down the few protections built into the currently proposed SOUND RULE.

Worse yet, Wolfe suggests a strongly protective new SOUND RULE, incorporating a skimpy ‘setback’ distance of ten (10) times turbine height, between turbines and private homes, would foreclose the possibility of any further industrial wind projects in Vermont. Her suggestion of such a foreclosure is a red herring filled with gross misconceptions. A truly protective ‘setback’ distance would be twenty (20) times turbine height and even that setback is unlikely to fully protect Vermonters from the offensive turbine noise.

A setback of twenty (20) times a turbine height of 500 feet (as currently proposed for the Swanton Wind project at Rocky Ridge) produces a protective distance of a little less than two (2) miles. No, of course the Rocky Ridge/Fairfield Pond locale with its significant population density would not be appropriate for industrial wind, nor would Spear Street in South Burlington/Shelburne even though, along with Rocky Ridge, Spear Street has excellent wind potential. But you don’t site industrial wind in heavily populated locales. It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work in the future. No problem. There are myriad sites in Vermont where wind can be made to fit conformably. The cost to acquire land rights with adequate protective setback distances when distributed among a fifteen to twenty turbine cluster will in no way financially cripple any industrial wind project which is otherwise worth pursuing.

Greg Pierce is a retired professional engineer who operated a consulting engineering firm in Saint Albans from 1967 to 2007.

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