Burlington Free Press: Opinion: My Turn: It’s really about money

May 13, 2013 No Comments by

Reposted from Burlington Free Press.

“It’s not easy being green.” Those immortal words spoken by Kermit the Frog keep running through my brain. Over the last few years the environmental concept of being green has been turned upside down here in Vermont.

A term that once meant to protect the natural environment has now been usurped by power industries, politicians and activists to mean whatever they deem necessary to further their interest, regardless of the true reality.

Ridgeline wind power — free energy, carbon neutral, green! Like the Sirens irresistible call for many, whether unknowingly or refusing to know, pay little heed of the rocks ahead.

The facade about wind energy in Vermont is about being green. Let’s be clear, it’s really all about money. Would Lowell allow its ridgelines to be used if money, a great deal of money, wasn’t offered? Would Green Mountain Power have considered the industrial sized development of ridge lines if there wasn’t significant amounts of money to be made for them?

So let’s get off our high horse about being green. Building ridge line wind turbines is more about big business than anything else. It’s also easy.

Easy for electric companies to pay gobs of money to pay off towns for ridge line access. Easy with political support from Gov. Shumlin. Easy with the promise of “seeing the promised land,” as one local columnist wrote upon rallying in Washington, D.C., for green energy.

While I’m not opposed to the making of money, I draw the line when that endeavor negatively impacts people’s lives.

What’s hard? Apparently finding money in the Vermont state budget for retro fitting homes with energy saving insulation to name, but one important item.

Conservation — I guess it’s not a sexy word. It doesn’t generate revenue. It won’t help you get elected. It requires sacrifice, a word often used in support of wind energy in Vermont. I know something about the conserving energy.

Twenty-seven years ago I built my super insulated house. I have reduced my home heating usage by 60 percent, every single year since. Imagine what the reduction of CO2 emissions would have been if all new construction in Vermont since 1986 could boast this kind ofsavings. Don’t tell me conservation is ineffective or too little or too late.

I have walked the Long Trail from Mount Horrid at Brandon Gap through to Mount Mansfield. The trail follows the western Green Mountain ridgeline, particularly from Mount Abraham northward. I am not a spiritual person in the traditional sense, yet when on these mountain tops one can not deny the feeling of being close to something truly unique and special. With their alpine vegetation, wilderness appeal and magnificent views, to defile this incredible environment with ridgeline wind towers would be unconscionable.

These Green Mountains should not belong to the highest bidder. They don’t belong to me or you or wind energy developers. The Green Mountains are a legacy held in trust to be passed on to future generations. Those who would advocate for the wanton destruction of them for a little bit of electricity and lot of money, in the words of Mr. Wilde, “… know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Robert Deeble lives in Middlebury.

Opinion, Renewables, Wind

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