DERBY LINE, VT/STANSTEAD, QUE. - A protest against the proposed Derby Line Wind Project attracted a large turnout with more than 100 people from both sides of the border.
Many had strong words against it and spoke passionately against wind farms in or near communities. Most guest speakers cited health concerns and lower property values.
Among those present were Vermont State Senator Joe Benning, Pierre Reid from the National Assembly of Canada, Jean Rousseau from The House of Commonâ€™s in Ottawa, and wind power expert Mark Duchamp from Spain, who happened to be traveling around Quebec.
Most guest speakers talked in both English and French and provided their own translation after each comment.
Mark Duchamp, with the European Platform against Windfarms (EPAW.org), described the struggles among those who live near windfarms in Europe.
â€śWe all know they destroy property values by 10 to 40 percent,â€ť he said. He added that in some cases people cannot sell their homes. He named a German couple who lived near a windfarm and is suffering from health effects and go to the hospital every week. Duchamp cited infrasound from the turbines as the culprit.
Shadow flicker is a problem as well, Duchamp said. He compared it to someone turning a light switch on and off rapidly. â€śYou canâ€™t concentrate, and it's annoying. Itâ€™s hell to live near turbines.â€ť
In Europe, electric bills have gone up by about 100 percent, he said, with the cost of wind energy.
He also said politicians support wind because they receive campaign contributions from the industry.
Sen. Joe Benning said that not all politicians line their pockets with â€śbig windâ€ť money.
He recited words from a Vermont song and said that, after hiking up Lowell Mountains, he saw that Vermont is â€śunder attack by those who want to make quick money.â€ť
â€śWe need to join together,â€ť he said, advising people to use an approach with grace, humility, and persistence, but not hostility, to gain support of officials in opposing wind projects. â€śEventually, they will understand.â€ť
A home in Stanstead is located about 500 feet from the proposed turbine location, and another is under construction 350 feet away. The second home is owned by Jean-FranĂ§ois Nadeau, a host of the protest event. Nadeau is a writer and historian from Montreal. He talked of the border as a mistake in history, and said itâ€™s really one community.
In an interview after the protest, he said that he is building his house in Stanstead for the peace and quiet he seeks as a writer. He stands to lose a lot of money if the project is built, he said, but his neighbors could lose their lives.
Dr. Robert McMurtry of Canada joined the rally via Skype. He talked about peer review studies that prove health problems from living near turbines. He said the wind industry uses social marketing to claim itâ€™s the clean and green solution, and uses strong lobbying in government.
Steve Therrien spoke about his experience living near the Sheffield wind farm. He said at time it sounds like a jet flying over his home. â€śItâ€™s unnerving. I donâ€™t want to be a test subject. I have young kids.â€ť The Therrien family lives less than one mile from the Sheffield wind farm. â€śI feel Iâ€™ve been compromised,â€ť he said.
Daria MonDesire of Derby Line said the War on Terror can never claim victory as long as big wind is given free rein to terrorize neighborhoods with rural homes. She said there is nothing green about a wind project or blowing up mountain tops. â€śItâ€™s time to act up and act out and stop playing by their rules.â€ť
She compared wind developers to sharks on a feeding frenzy, but said in the case of wind developers, the frenzy is fueled by the smell of money.
â€śStop the lies; stop the terrorism, and stop the rape of our mountains.â€ť She said the fight is on - in courts and in all corridors of government. â€śWe put you on notice.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m confident our voice will be heard,â€ť said Stanstead, Quebec, Mayor Philippe Dutil to cheers and applause.
The Derby Line wind project consists of two 425-foot plus turbines on two farms just east of Derby Line and near Stanstead. It is proposed by Encore Redevelopment of Burlington.