Statement on Proposed Wind Moratorium
Founded in 1963, the Vermont Natural Resources Council is Vermont’s oldest conservation organization. With the support of over 5,000 members, VNRC works to protect, restore and promote Vermont’s waters, viable communities, forest and wildlife resources, working landscape, and clean energy.
VNRC opposes the proposed three-year moratorium on wind energy development in Vermont. While VNRC appreciates that the motivations of the moratorium’s sponsors are well intentioned and grounded in a desire to protect Vermont’s mountaintops and ridgelines, a moratorium is not in the best long-term interest of the state. VNRC’s position is based on the following considerations:
- Climate change and fossil fuel scarcity are major threats to Vermont and the world. Deployment of a full range of available renewable energy technologies, including well-sited wind power, is among the many important strategies to reduce those threats.
- The Vermont Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission, appointed by Governor Shumlin this past October (at the urging of VNRC and other conservation and environmental organizations), is currently engaged in an aggressive process of identifying improvements to the siting and permitting process for energy facilities in the state. Their work is scheduled for completion in April 2013.
- There are no pending applications for wind generation facilities. There is a pending proposal for a meteorological wind testing tower (Newark), a very recently approved met tower application (Windham) and one potential project — Grandpa’s Knob — that would have to meet significant hurdles before it could proceed. That all adds up to providing ample time for the Legislature to act on the recommendations of the Energy Siting Commission prior to any likely submission of a new application.
- Wind energy can, and should, play an important role in meeting Vermont’s goal of 90% renewable energy by 2050. It is the most affordable, reliable renewable resource in Vermont, and the state is currently undertaking serious steps to mitigate or avoid the impacts of wind development.
- Vermont can develop some upland areas for wind energy generation safely and without undue adverse environmental impacts. Many of the environmental concerns commonly associated with wind energy development – including habitat fragmentation and stormwater runoff – are widely associated with a range of land use and development activities both at high and lower elevations that are subject to much less stringent – or no – state regulation and oversight. A moratorium on wind energy facilities does not address the vast majority of land use impacts on forest and habitat fragmentation and water quality.
- A moratorium on wind projects in Vermont – regardless of one’s view of such an initiative – more broadly undermines other efforts both here in Vermont and across the country to address climate change because it has the effect of minimizing the threat.
VNRC believes that carefully sited renewable energy generation facilities – including wind turbines – coupled with aggressive energy conservation and efficiency strategies, are a responsible response to climate change, peak oil and the need for an independent, clean energy economy.