Saturday, March 18, 2006

Vermont legislators propose throwing out hearing results

State representatives Keenan of St. Albans City, Shand of Weathersfield, and Young of Orwell introduced a resolution yesterday to recommend that the Public Service Board reject its hearing officer's recommendation to deny a permit for the East Haven Wind Farm and grant it anyway.
Whereas, notwithstanding the hearing officer's recommendations, a close review of his findings reveals many conclusions which in combination argue convincingly for the PSB to act contrary to the hearing officer's overall recommendation, ...
This weirdly suggests that Janson himself did not make a close review of his own findings -- and that these legislators somehow have a better knowledge of the evidence than the man who presided over weeks of hearings and has read thousands of pages of testimony.
Whereas, the 329-foot wind turbines would produce electricity that would be sold entirely to a local municipal electric company, the Lyndonville Electric Department (LED), and

Whereas, the power will be sold to LED at five percent below market cost and will decrease slightly the market price for electricity with the greatest economic benefit for individuals in the Northeast Kingdom who reside nearer the project, and ...

Whereas, not only is this newly available electric power being sold locally and at five percent below market cost, it would also help meet the regional need for electric power derived from renewable resources, ...
In fact, the electricity will be sold to grid operator ISO New England, who will send the check to LED who will take out 5% and then send it on to EMDC. LED is not buying the electricity; they are taking a cut of the sales to ISO New England. As for helping meet the regional need for renewable energy sources, the turbines would have a likely average output of around 1.5 MW, or less than 0.005% of the current capacity of the New England grid.
Whereas, opponents of the project have stated that demand-side lifestyle changes could substitute for the need for renewable power, and this is an argument the hearing officer rejected, ...
In Vermont, 1.5 MW represents 0.25% of our peak load. Certainly in this case, demand-side changes could easily substitute.
Whereas, increased local employment would occur both from short-term construction jobs and longer-term system operation, ...
EMDC has contracted with a Burlington firm for construction. GE would supply the workers experienced in turbine assembly. Almost all local employment would be for land clearing, excavating, and hauling cement. The national average for full-time (essentially custodial) jobs after the facility is operational is 1-2 per 20 MW rated capacity: not many prospects are likely from a 6-MW facility.
Whereas, this small a wind farm is unlikely to impact significantly the migratory bird population, and the hearing officer acknowledged the Agency of Natural Resources, statement that a project containing only four turbines will probably not result in a large number of bat deaths, ...
Janson singled out the lack of information about the impact on birds and bats and the reluctance of EMDC to undertake proper studies.
Whereas, the portions of the former Champion Lands from which viewers would have a prominent view of the turbines used for snowmobiling, logging, and other activities inconsistent with true wilderness areas, ...
None of these involves 330-ft machines, none of them is active at night, and none of them violates the dark sky of that area with strobe lights.
Whereas, the public investment in these lands was to purchase a public access easement, and the presence of a commercial wind farm on nearby private property will not significantly diminish the easement, ...
Janson, despite what I consider many seriously wrong assumptions of the value of wind power, clearly determined that it will.

tags:  wind power, wind energy, wind farms, Vermont, environment, environmentalism