A moratorium on wind energy in Vermont? And just when it seemed we were making progress. It seems NIMBYism is alive and well around the world.
While it's true that every source of energy has real and identifiable impacts, it's also clear that there is no silver bullet when it comes to solving our energy challenges. Every source must be on the table. To simply say no to utility-scale wind is shortsighted and loses sight of the fact that wind energy is part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Vermont and Renewable Energy
Vermont is late to the game on wind energy. Other parts of the U.S., and certainly the globe, have been developing wind and realizing its potential for quite some time now. Several years ago, I asked Larry Flowers, then head of Clinton's Windpowering America program, to come to Vermont to help advance wind energy and he politely declined; he would take his work to states that had made a commitment to renewables. Vermont was not one of them.
Fast forward to 2012: Vermont finally sticks its toe in the water on wind development, we meet some local opposition, and now we may back-peddle on our commitment to renewables? I'm disappointed.
National collaboration promoting wind, protecting wildlife
I chair the board of the American Wind Wildlife Institute, a national collaboration of U.S. wind energy companies and leading environmental organizations. Now four years old, this organization is working to proactively and scientifically address the relatively modest, but important, environmental impacts of wind energy. It's not easy work, as these groups have at times opposed each other. Both sides, however, recognize the mutual gain of promoting responsible wind development while protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat as a means of addressing climate change. We certainly don't always agree, but we persevere.
Isn't that the way to do it? Isn't a calm, collaborative approach to our state’s energy future better than these polarized discussions we're having over wind energy? Wind is cost competitive and non-polluting, doesn't use or affect water, and the fuel is free and endless. The people of Vermont deserve to have wind as an option for our energy future.
A version of this editorial first appeared in the November 4, 2012 issue of the Burlington (VT) Free Press.