Vermont State Sens. Robert Hartwell and Joe Benning are planning to introduce legislation calling for a three-year moratorium on large-scale wind energy development in the state, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Wind farm opposition has been a challenge for developers in Vermont, despite the state's rigorous permitting and siting regulations.
‘Vermont already has one of the most stringent permitting processes in the country,’ notes Martha Staskus, chairwoman of Renewable Energy Vermont. "Permitting for wind projects have taken up to seven years, with numerous mitigation steps proposed to address noise, aviary life, water quality and other concerns raised by stakeholders."
According to Staskus, a wind power moratorium would be disastrous for the state's economy.
"This proposal is economically backward and will send a chilling effect throughout Vermont's growing renewable energy economy," she says. "For a state in need of good-paying jobs [and] jobs for younger generations and a state that ranks first nationally in green jobs, this proposal takes us drastically backwards.
"Supporters of a wind moratorium are telling those on the manufacturing floors of Northern Power or NRG Systems, in the classes of Vermont Technical College, and at good businesses like Lyndon contractor J.A. McDonald, "We don't want what you do here,'" she adds.
Moreover, Staskus says a moratorium on wind energy would be costly for ratepayers.
"Wind power is currently the lowest-cost new renewable power, with Vermont wind energy providing long-term, stably priced contracts to utilities like Vermont Electric Coop, Green Mountain Power, Washington Electric Coop and Burlington Electric Department," she notes. "A wind moratorium is an endorsement of higher electric rates.’