STATEMENT OPPOSING A MORATORIUM ON WIND DEVELOPMENT IN VERMONT
Adopted by the Board of Directors of Washington Electric Cooperative, January 9, 2013
Washington Electric Co-op (WEC) reaffirms its support for responsible development of renewable energy generation in Vermont, including commercial scale wind. Climate change is already affecting our planet and its impact is being felt in Vermont. The Vermont Legislature has for many years strongly encouraged and promoted the development of clean and renewable generation sources and set aggressive goals for our state. These goals now also guide and direct Vermont’s State Energy Plan. They cannot be achieved without incorporating some commercial scale wind projects into our landscape at selected and appropriate locations.
We recognize that the siting of large scale wind projects on Vermont ridge lines has environmental and aesthetic impact, as does the siting of any power plant, major construction or development. These impacts must be considered and weighed along with the benefits a wind project provides to Vermont and our region. Since 2002, three Vermont Governors have each established an open process for discussing wind siting issues, establishing criteria and encouraging public input. Although the commission established by Governor Shumlin is still at work, the efforts conducted by the Douglas and Dean administrations have been heeded and respected as projects have been considered. Vermont has now been considering, planning, debating, legislating, implementing and regulating wind generation for well over ten years. Vermont should not and has not “rolled over” for developers of wind projects, and the projects that have been approved have been subjected to tough rigorous review.
It would be a serious, regressive and damaging mistake to enact an arbitrary moratorium, or to set conditions whose apparent intent is to make sure no wind projects can get built. Climate change is already affecting us, as Vermonters, and as utilities responsible for reliable delivery of power. As Vermont rightly begins to also focus more attention on other uses of energy besides electricity such as transportation, we will see significant new demand for electricity, as much as 30% more for transportation alone. In order to move meaningfully and quickly to a cleaner and sustainable energy future for electricity, thermal and transportation uses, we need to use the full range of renewable generation technologies, small and large. Really tackling climate change is an enormous and urgent undertaking that does call for some industrial-scale measures. It means we may have to look at where some of power actually comes from, rather than expecting it to come from elsewhere, or just not caring where it comes from.
Washington Electric Co-op supports and will actively participate in efforts to make the siting and approval process for energy generation projects as open and transparent as possible, and to assure that projects that are built meet the highest environmental standards. A moratorium on wind projects is not the way to achieve that goal, or to make progress towards a cleaner, sustainable energy future.
Founded in 1939, Washington Electric Cooperative is a consumer-owned electric utility governed by an elected board and serving over 10,500 member households and businesses in 41 towns in Orange, Washington and Caledonia Counties. WEC began receiving power from First Wind’s Sheffield project in October 2011. The Co-op owns and operates a landfill gas generating plant in Coventry and a small hydro facility at the Wrightsville Reservoir. Its other power sources include Vermont’s independent power producers, Hydro Quebec and the New York Power Authority (large hydro).