DERBY – Approximately 100 people turned out for the Public Service Board (PSB) hearing on the proposed Derby Line Wind Farm, held Monday evening at the Derby Elementary School.
Comments were mixed between those who support the project and those who oppose it. But opponents dominated the time and provided much of the testimony. The comment period lasted more than two hours.
Encore Redevelopment of Burlington is seeking two Certificates of Public good from the PSB to build a 400-plus-foot turbine on Grandview Farm and another one at Smugglers Hill Farm.
Those who support the project said that it's time to become more energy independent and that they support renewables. Proponents, including Sue Davis of Grandview Farm, said the project allows farmers to diversify. She said that they would not jeopardize their own health or that of their animals or neighbors.
Several pointed to studies and news reports that indicate trouble, such as health effects from living near turbines. But Adam Batista of Derby, now a student at Middlebury College, said that some people who have health effects may be the ones who opposed the turbines in the first place.
A handful of local farmers spoke in favor of the project, and some town officials also expressed support. Derby Farmer Richard Nelson does not support “blowing up ridgelines” but he supports the project in Derby.
His cousin Mike Nelson, also a farmer, disagrees. He does not support wind turbines in close proximity to homes. Mike Nelson encouraged everyone to do their homework.
“Don’t believe what Encore says... and the PSB is there just to provide the rubber stamp.”
Grant Spates of Derby supports the project. He talked about the way Derby Line used to be bustling with activity. He thinks the turbines will bring new interest to the town.
Many supporters said that property owners should be able to do what they want with their land.
The statement created many responses. Several people said there should be limits on what people are allowed to do on their property when it affects their neighbors.
Many opponents of the project question potential health effects citing studies that show an increase in health problems including nausea, hyper tension, and insomnia. Dick Fletcher of Derby Line said that after doing extensive research, he doesn’t support the project because of potential health effects and impact to property values.
Lisa Erwin-Davidson said her research indicates that newer turbines do not create the same problems as the older ones with infrasound.
A few said that wind is not a dependable source for energy and other sources are always needed for backup. Charles Gross of Derby Line said he would never hire “Mr. Wind” for a job because, “He only shows up some of the time, and is not dependable. But Ms. Gas, Mr. Coal and Mr. Nuc may be somewhat controversial, but are always incredibly dependable.”
Many maintained that too many questions remain unanswered, especially questions regarding infrasound.
Member of the Derby Select Board and Derby Line Village Clerk Karen Jenne said that action on the project should be delayed as all abutters were not officially notified. Jenne has concerns about chemicals leeching into ground water, and has national security concerns as the sites are so close to the Canadian border. Jenne also brought up potentila impacts on property values.
Glenda Nye of Derby pointed out that power rates in the area are high compared to other rates around New England, and that wind power is expensive and likely to increase rates further.
Maureen Fountain says she loves the Davis’ smaller wind turbine, but is very concerned about the size of the prosed turbine.
The message that wind is “green” is incorrect, Daira MonDesire explained.
“The big wind industry manipulates our aversion to speaking out against anything that appears to be green in order to perpetuate a massive fraud. Industrial wind turbines line the pockets of wealthy, tax shelter seeking investor; do little to lower CO2 emissions, compromises public health, and result in massive environmental destruction.”
MonDesire says that not everyone who is exposed to infrasound gets sick, just as all those who smoke do not get cancer, but many do get sick.
“I’d like to see a day when working people in rural communities weren’t thrown crumbs by an industry worth billions....” she said, reading from a letter she wrote to the editor.
The PSB is accepting written testimony of the matter.