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Monday
May282012

wind Power on Grandpa’s Knob, a rock and a hard place

We all know the old “between a rock and a hard place” adage, but the issue of wind power at a site of exceptional ecological value as quoted from a letter by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources sure brings it home. 

ridge overlooking West Rutland MarshWe all know the extent of our demand for energy. Gasoline prices are down a little but we can easily remember over $4 per gallon. Realistically, we know they will be back and get higher. We can also remember well the disaster that unfolded in the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, it was caused by carelessness, stupidity and greed, but all driven by the desire to tap into oil as a source of energy. And who in Vermont doesn’t know about the problems and pollution from nuclear power? Solar power is just gearing up, and hopefully, will become an important part of the mix. 

All of this leads us toward wanting wind power to be a viable solution. On May 14, Reunion Power made its case to the West Rutland Select Board for the installation of 20 wind turbines along the Taconic Ridge that includes Grandpa’s Knob. After the company’s presentation, Roy Pilcher and I, along with many other Vermonters, had a brief opportunity to ask questions. I asked Reunion if they have agreed to the wind power construction guidelines set by the U.S.  Fish and Wildlife Department and supported by National Audubon. The answer was not “yes.” We can all interpret for ourselves the meaning of the response from Reunion.  I believe they will not accept those strict guidelines because they know they can’t meet the requirements. At Audubon, we believe those guidelines help find a creative solution to the wind energy dilemma. For the view of National Audubon, click here. Wind power can be worth the risks if it is properly sited.

Roy Pilcher, RCAS Co-president, prepared and presented charts with actual species of raptors seen over the ridge where the wind farm is to be built and the area near the West Rutland Marsh IBA as well as near the Hubbardton Battlefield.

On May 16 the Rutland County Audubon Board of Directors voted to oppose the commercial development, the Grandpa's Knob Wind Project, sited on the ridge of the Taconics. We are quite satisfied that our approach to this thorny issue is correct. We want the decision to be based on hard facts. the ultimate decision on this project rests with the Vermont Public Service Board. They will decidde whether this project meets a public good. Before that we, as concerned citizens, have a responsibility to invetigate this issue and decide for ourselves whether it is worth the risks.

One of the possible indirect, but positive outcome could be uniting the community over the value of the West Rutland Marsh. We at Rutland County Audubon have long valued the marsh for its great variety of bird life. By getting together now we can move the marsh from a convenient place to dump trans and shoot holes in a computer full of toxic metals to a beautiful natural area springing with life. To do that will take extensive local support. A few outsiders from adjoining areas can come in and do a cleanup, but local residents can find a way to stop the abusive treatment.

Here is hoping for the future of West Rutland Marsh.

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