VPIRG Advocates for Wind Projects on State Land

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(Host) An environmental group wants the Douglas administration to change its mind and allow large-scale wind turbines on state land. The Vermont Public Interest Research Group says 3,500 Vermonters have signed a petition that calls on the Agency of Natural Resources to support wind energy development.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Monday was the deadline for public comment on a draft state policy that would bar industrial wind turbines on state land. The policy does allow smaller wind generators to be used at state parks and some ski areas.

But the Vermont Public Interest Research Group says that state-owned high ridgelines should also be open for wind development. Azur Moulaert is VPIRG’s energy advocate.

(Moulaert) “The draft policy on wind siting has to be revised to reflect a proactive, engaged and rational though process when dealing with energy in Vermont.”

(Dillon) Joining VPIRG at a news conference on the Statehouse steps was Spencer Putnam, executive director of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.

(Putnam) “Renewable energy is a jobs program, it’s an environmental protection program and it’s an economic development program all rolled into one. And it really needs to be part of not only the long term economic plan of the state but also part of the energy plan. So we feel that closing public lands without any kind of review to commercial projects and renewable energy is a mistake.”

(Dillon) Jason Gibbs, a spokesman for Governor Jim Douglas, says the governor believes renewable energy will play an important role in Vermont’s energy future.

But he says members of the public who spoke out at hearings earlier this year didn’t share VPIRG’s enthusiasm for development on state-owned ridgelines.

(Gibbs) “While we certainly appreciate their advocacy on behalf of large-scale commercial wind development, the overwhelming message from the number of public meetings held by the agency from Vermonters who participated in them was that large-scale commercial wind development is probably not the best use for currently protected and in many cases pristine, state owned lands.”

(Dillon) Matthew Rubin, a wind energy developer and member of the VPIRG board, says there’s only a few state-owned sites that are suitable for commercial wind projects.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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