MONTPELIER – More than 100 wind tower opponents, particularly those opposed to the one Green Mountain Power has planned for a ridgeline in Lowell, gathered at the State House yesterday morning. The protesters strongly voiced their opposition to the project and Bread and Puppet Theater of Glover put on a skit supporting the protesters.
After delivering a lengthy letter to Gov. Peter Shumlin’s office and comment cards to the Department of Public Service, the opponents boarded buses that took them to the Green Mountain Power office in Colchester where they delivered a second letter.
Luke Snelling, the director of communications for Energize Vermont, told the press that the opponents wanted to tell state and company officials that they should do more solar power and no large wind power.
“Large scale utility wind has large scale impacts on our natural resources and our communities,” he said. “We believe solar is a better solution for the State of Vermont.”
Solar is getting more affordable and smaller, Snelling said.
Dr. Ron Holland of Irasburg called the wind project “a total corporate scam” that will benefit foreign corporations that put up the money for it.
“We pay higher rates and they destroy our mountains,” he said. “There is no benefit for Vermont.”
The opponents, in between speeches in both Montpelier and Colchester, chanted “Solar not Wind” and “Shumlin, Do You Hear Us Now?” However, the governor was reportedly out of state and therefore not able to see or hear the demonstrators.
Prior to the demonstration, Nancy Warner, president of the Lowell Mountains Group, said the opponents wanted to tell Gov. Peter Shumlin and GMP officials that project will be devastating to the area. She said the project would be the largest in the state. Warner is also concerned about the blasting that will take place.
Warner is more concerned about how the project will affect the mountains, water and wildlife that have been in the area for thousands of years than she is about the visual impact. She is also concerned about corporate greed and is worried the price of power will increase dramatically.
“As of today, and every day in the future, that we stand here and throughout this state, we are now setting the energy agenda,” said Snelling to the cheering crowd. “We believe there is an energy future in this state that is independent, that is homegrown and that is as unique as this state. We can have the character of Vermont that love and we can also have the renewable energy that we need.”
Snelling vowed that opponents would continue to send their message.
“We know there are people who don’t want this project,” said GMP spokesperson Dorothy Schnure. “We also know the vast majority of Vermonters do want wind.”
The Public Service Board and the Agency of Natural Resources have extensively reviewed the project, said Schnure. She said both solar and wind projects are necessary in the state.
“Anyway you generate electricity has environmental impacts,” she said. “Solar uses a lot of land.”
Vermont Electric Cooperative officials have agreed buy power from GMP at cost, Schnure said.
The Lowell wind project should be complete by the end of 2012.