April 11, 2005

Wind hearings end

Excerpt from today's Burlington (Vt.) Free Press editorial, concerning the proposed East Haven Windfarm:
When Champion Paper Co. sold its 132,000-acre holdings in the Northeast Kingdom, the land was split into three parcels: 22,000 acres on West Mountain went to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources; 84,000 acres with conservation easements went to the Essex Timber Co.; and 26,000 acres went to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Vermont Legislature appropriated $4.5 million for the project in 1999 with a matching grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The federal government invested another $6.5 million in the lands.

"This area is truly exceptional," Decker wrote in his pre-filed testimony. "There are few places like it, if any, in Vermont or the Northeast. ... And it did not happen by chance. The so-called Champion Lands deal was a culmination of years of hard work, negotiation, collaboration and expense. ... The mountain peaks are the fundamental cornerstone to the remote nature and rugged character."

East Haven Windfarm's proposed "demonstration project," on an island of private property in the middle of the Champion Lands, would generate about 0.3 percent [more likely 0.2%] of the state's annual electricity needs. This small amount of power does not justify putting 30-story-tall, strobe-lighted turbines right in the middle of land that the state explicitly protected as wilderness. Industrial wind turbines do not fit into the vision for these conserved lands nor could they possibly be considered "very little" development.
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