MONTPELIER, VT - Over 200 Vermonters came together at a rally in Montpelier Friday to award Gov. Peter Shumlin, his administration, the Public Service Board, and wind developers a ceremonial Certificate of Public Harm (CPH) to recognize their support for the destructive development of big wind on Vermont's mountains.
The rally brought together citizens from all of Vermont's 14 counties, and took place on the State House grounds.
The CPH stands in contrast to the Certificate of Public Good (CPG) permits that the Public Service Board awards big wind developments. A CPG represents the board's finding that a project will contribute to the overall "good" of the state. Today the protesters spoke of the harm these projects cause to the state's ridgelines, watersheds, communities, and families.
"We came here today from all over Vermont to send the message that big wind is not in the best interest of Vermont or its residents. Some call them farms, but they don't grow anything we need. They destroy our ridgelines, cause massive environmental damage, produce expensive power and tear our communities apart. This isn't the type of development we want in Vermont," said Paul Brouha of Sutton, a neighbor of the Sheffield wind project.
The eight page Certificate outlines many reasons why the governor's approach on wind development has failed to represent Vermont's interests.
The document includes a list of harmful impacts from each proposed and permitted utility-scale wind project in the state.
"I felt it was important to me to be here today because I know I represent many other Vermonters on this issue," said Susan Hoyt of Waitsfield.
"Supporters who say 'Whats all the fuss about the view?' don't get it at all, and trivialize and ignore the many negatives. It's about working to find an optimal response to climate change that doesn't require us to sacrifice our mountains and the health and welfare of those who work and live near them."
The rally was larger than the one held last fall to support small-scale renewable options in the draft state energy plan.
"We feel the Governor and his administration have failed to listen to us. Hopefully, this CPH will get the message across that industrial wind isn't right for Vermont and we won't tolerate their support for it," Said Lisa Wright Garcia of West Rutland. "We're not going away; we're only getting
Vanessa Mills Holmquist of Pittsford agreed, "As more Vermonters learn about the drawbacks of utility-scale wind in Vermont, they are speaking out
and supporting real solutions that respond to climate change while limiting environmental damage. Folks are rallying around an energy future
that increases efficiency and small-scale, distributed, affordable renewable generation, not one of massive developments supported by out
of state companies and their well-connected supporters."
Those attending the rally said they hoped that in the coming months the legislature would shift the focus of the energy debate away from electrical generation, and toward an effective reduction of emissions, most of which come from transportation and home heating.
"Awareness is rising and people get it," concluded Luke Snelling, Energize Vermont's Director. "All over the state, we hear more and more that people want distributed, community-scale generation and a focus on efficiency. Vermont can do so much more, and so much better. That's really what the CPH is all about," he concluded.