Elizabeth Clarke

Fall 2017

A 3 armed wind turbine stands above a dark tree line on a cloudy day.
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Vermont is known for its green mountains, fall foliage, and fresh, natural products. Every decision this state makes is made with sustainability and equality in mind. As a state, we have been revolutionary in regard to abolishing slavery, granting marriage equality and requiring GMO labeling. We owe it not only to ourselves, but also to the rest of the country to continue this pattern and lead the way in renewable energy.

The Vermont General Assembly declares our state has a goal to reach 90% renewably sourced energy by 2050. If we want to succeed at this goal and build a better future for Vermont we are going to have to implement wind power.

Currently, Vermont has four wind projects throughout the state. Aweo.org calculates that roughly 119 megawatts of energy are produced from these four projects alone. As many as ten more are planned for the future, immensely increasing our energy production.

John Walters of Seven Days reports that members of the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules recently made a decision regarding sound rules proposed by the Vermont Public Utility Commission for future wind turbine projects. A limit of 42 sound decibels during the day and 39 dB at night was approved, which may seem like progress, but both wind proponents and opponents were equally upset with the decision.

While there are clean alternatives to wind, eliminating it completely would be a huge mistake. Four thousand solar panels and two acres of land are required to produce only one megawatt of solar power energy according to quora.com. Hydropower is also a possibility, but that energy is limited by bodies of water present in Vermont.

Wind power has helped Burlington, VT run on 100% renewable energy, which triplepundit.com estimated about 20% of which is from wind turbines. Therefore, being against wind power is the same as being against Vermont building a sustainable present and future life for its residents.

Some Vermont residents oppose the use of wind power because of appearance, noise, environmental damages, health issues, and manipulation of our legislators by big industries. While the installation of wind turbines can have negative impacts on scenery, ridge-lines and privately owned property, it is not the worst thing that could happen to our land.

As the climate continues to change and fossil fuels continue to be depleted, we must keep the future of Vermont in mind. Of course we would rather leave our mountaintops undisturbed, but if no one is around to enjoy them after global warming destroys the planet and everything on it, then was that preservation really worth it? Furthermore, no studies that have been conducted conclude that living near wind turbines has a negative effect on one’s health.

Opponents to wind power feel that these new sound rules are not strict enough, while wind proponents are discouraged by the severity of limitations now in place. It is unlikely that anyone will ever be fully satisfied with laws regarding this topic, but we must not forget that wind turbines allow us to take a natural resource — one that is abundant and infinite — and utilize that to our advantage. We can use it day or night, in droughts or in floods and face no risk of running out.

Wind clearly cannot provide one hundred percent of the energy our state needs, but it is a vital tool that we should not, and cannot, simply dismiss. To give up on wind power in Vermont would be an immense waste of assets and ability.