May 19, 2006

Tilting at turbine foes in Vermont

To the Editor, Vermont Guardian:

So the Free Press thinks clean coal and nuclear power are better options than wind for providing Vermont's electricity in the future. Yet they are accused of burying their head in the sand about energy issues. True, they have not published editorials about clean coal and nuclear power. That is because those are not currently being debated throughout the state, with ten large projects newly threatening dozens of towns. It is clear that the wind power industry considers the Free Press to be ignoring energy issues only for writing off wind power as an obvious boondoggle.

As David Blittersdorf himself is quoted as saying, there is no silver bullet. It is not an either/or question, yet Vermont Guardian implies exactly that in connecting the Free Press's rejection of wind power with their reported interest in clean coal and support for nuclear.

Industrial-scale wind power can be debated on its own costs and benefits. It is irrelevant and dishonest to change the subject to nuclear power (one can oppose both) or, for another common example, to the number of birds killed by cars. Even in the larger debate about electricity (let alone the four-fifths of Vermont's energy use that is not electric), there are, as Blittersdorf mentions, peaking and base load plants. Nuclear and coal plants make up the latter, and wind power would have nothing to do with their level of use, even if hundreds of redundant wind facilities are built in the hope that somewhere the wind is blowing.

Proponents of industrial-scale wind power want to bury everyone's head in the sand.

If you reject the idea of 400-ft-high machines flashing on prominent ridges, producing no power at all a third of the time, a trickle another third of the time, and at or above their 25% average output only the remaining third of the time, you are accused of ignoring energy issues.

If you reject badly worded surveys in the conviction as well that the people who actually have to live with the noise and vibration and ecological degradation from the machines are the only ones whose opinion might be informed and relevant, then you are denying reality.

If you note that the intermittency (see above) is defended as unproblematic because the fluctuating contribution from wind would be inconsequential to the larger grid, and therefore you wonder how anyone could justify building on vigorously protected sites for such an inconsequential power source, then you are ignorant of the facts.

A debate based on facts is exactly what promoters of the wind industry do not want. Blinded in their lust to develop what remains of our wild places, to take for profit what belongs to all of us, they lash out at all who question them. That is to be expected. That the Vermont Guardian joins them in that endeavor is sad, even disgusting.

wind power, wind energy, Vermont, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, ecoanarchism