May 3, 2006

Wind energy promoters take advantage of state-issued Non-Veracity Licenses

On energy giant Gruppo UPC's Sheffield Wind site, the following statements are made: "More people turned out for the non-binding referendum in support of UPC’s project in Sheffield than voted in the last presidential election. A strong majority [sic] voted in favor of the project (120-93). An opinion poll conducted after the election showed that people favored the project because it provided clean, renewable energy and a positive economic impact for the town."

Notice the trickiness of that last sentence. It does not say that the poll corroborated the vote but only describes the reasons given for those who "favored" the project.

In fact, the question was whether one would like to see none, less, the same, or more wind development in Sheffield. It was part of a general survey along with other items such as agriculture and cell towers and the reasons one chooses to live in the town (or township, as it would be called in other places). In contrast to UPC's statement, it did not specify the project. The level of wind development in Sheffield is currently none, so UPC's agents campaigned vigorously to make sure people understood that support of their project required a "more" vote.

Nevertheless, the result was that only 40% (69 of 173) wanted to to see wind development. Forty-five percent (78 of 173) clearly chose "none," and the rest chose "less" (8) or "the same" (18), which meant in effect "none." Hence the slipperiness of the statement on the UPC web site. And even that is dishonest, because the survey gave no indication of the reasons people made their choices. UPC's spin is simple projection of their, well, their own spin.

That 2-1 rejection of industrial-scale wind power corroborated a survey the year before in which 79% of the residents and property owners -- 346 out of 436 -- signed a petition from Ridge Protectors against UPC's project.

The vote of 120-93 (56%-44%, hardly a "strong" majority) was clearly the aberration, and it followed a "grass roots" organizing campaign run by a Burlington advertising firm hired by UPC and apparent outright vote buying. The developer's tactics clearly served as a wake-up call, and the vote was corrected in the subsequent poll.

Another example on the web site of the developer's deceit is hidden in their output projections. By calculating back, one can determine that they are based on a capacity factor of 32%, even though the actual experience in the U.S., including Vermont, is less than four-fifths of that, around 25%.

As a correspondent from Malone, N.Y., has quipped, wind power promoters carry a Non-Veracity License (NVL) stamped for a nominal fee by the secretary of state. That's why they're taken seriously. The law requires that they not be questioned.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism