Monday, March 06, 2006

Manchester opposes wind power

The town of Manchester, Vermont, convened a special meeting Saturday night to discuss and vote on the wind power project on Little Equinox Mountain proposed by Endless Energy. By a voice vote at the end, the people of the town chose to oppose the project. They also approved $150,000 to fight it.

The Village Planning Commission had already done its homework, as represented by the statement below.

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From The Manchester (Vt.) Village Planning Commission's Policy Statement on the Proposed Little Equinox Mountain Wind Farm:

At a Special Meeting of the Commission held on Saturday, Feb. 25, to discuss the results of the recent Wind Forum, the Commission concluded, unanimously, that the proposed project should not be supported because:

1. The project violates both the Town and Village Plans of Development.

2. The project's detriments outweigh its benefits to the Manchester Community.

3. No pollution reductions will result because of the "Green Tag" sale.

... Several fundamental contradictions have concerned us from the outset:

a. Why are we discarding the preservation requirements of our Plans of Development? The Manchester Town Plan of Development states: "Structures shall not be permitted on or near mountaintops and ridgelines, so that these features are preserved in their natural state." Similarly, the Manchester Village Plan of Development says: "The natural and irreplaceable resources such as the scenic backdrop of Mount Equinox should be preserved." The proposed five-turbine installation is in clear violation of those provisions of the Plans.

b. Can we continue to keep an open mind about the Endless Energy Corporation proposal when its representatives have not been forthcoming on fundamental issues, such as financial viability and wind farm construction expertise, and have misrepresented other facts relating to the proposed development?

THEREFORE, unless convincing new information emerges to the contrary, the Manchester Village Planning Commission feels compelled to oppose the proposed wind farm at Little Equinox Mountain, based on the following facts:

1. The proposal contradicts both the Manchester Town and Manchester Village Plans of Development.

2. The five turbine structures will permanently debase the natural beauty of Manchester's highly scenic asset, our Equinox ridgeline, due to their 390' height and 300' rotor span.

3. The windmills would present a visual and noise threat to the entire community, especially to residents on Bentley Hill, Ormsby Hill, Lathrop Lane, and McCooey Drive. These problems might well become seriously detrimental to property values in those areas and beyond.

4. Several of Manchester's most visually sensitive attractions would be negatively affected by the dominating presence of the turbines; these include Equinox Pond, Hildene, Union Street, and large sections of the Battenkill.

5. By far, the financial beneficiaries of the Wind Farm enterprise would be Endless Energy, its investors, the Burlington Electric Company (BED), and BED customers, whereas Manchester would be virtually left out of the money. Specific estimates, based on the best available information including Endless Energy' 20 year contract with BED, are:

Developer benefits:

Endless Energy's revenues $43 million
Unnamed investors' profits $27 million
BED Green Tag Revenues $25 million
Investor Fed. Tax Loss Benefits $18 million
Fed. Renewable Energy Tax Credit $5.5 million

Manchester Town revenues:

Manchester Town Tax (excl. educ.) $20,000 per year: $400,000 total over 20 yrs.
Manchester "Dowry": $30,000 per year: $600,000 total over 20 yrs.
Manchester Electric Rate Savings: NONE ...

6. Under present FAA rules, at least three (possibly all five) of the turbine towers would be required to display flashing red lights night and day.

7. Endless Energy's claim that the proposed wind farm will reduce pollution is negated by the fact that the "Green Tags" sold to out-of-state power companies would allow their oil and coal-burning plants to continue to pollute the air on a kilowatt for kilowatt basis compensated by this wind farm's output. ...

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