Wind Power Becomes Issue In Lt. Governor Race

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The future of wind power in the state has become a key issue in the race for Lt. Governor.

Incumbent Republican Phil Scott supports a two year moratorium on all major wind developments in order to study the environmental impact of these projects.

But Cassandra Gekas, who is running as both the Democratic and Progressive candidate, thinks it’s a mistake to impose a moratorium at this time.

As more and more large scale wind projects are proposed for various parts of the state, the debate over these projects is growing.

Gekas says it’s a difficult issue that clearly is dividing Vermonters in a number of communities but she doesn’t think it’s a good idea to impose a 2 year moratorium on all future wind development in the state.

"I do see wind as a part of our bigger renewable energy policy and I think it would be a mistake to put an across the board moratorium in place given the impact that we’re seeing of climate change."

But Gekas does think that communities that are identified as potential sites for future projects should have veto power over these proposals.

"I do think it’s important to move forward on wind but I want to continue to do it on a case by case basis and make sure that the communities that are impacted by those projects that they get the chance to vote on those projects," said Gekas. "And if they don’t want them in their community we’re not forcing it and that they have good representation before the Public Service Board. I think there are some models that we could improve upon there."

In contrast, Scott supports the moratorium. In a recent statement he said the moratorium is needed in order to have "a thorough assessment of both the performance of these industrial wind projects as well as an assessment of environmental impacts."

The two candidates also disagree on the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

In the 2010 session, the Senate voted 26-4 not to extend the license for Vermont Yankee. Scott was one of the four votes against the bill because he said lawmakers didn’t have the expertise to make the decision and that the issue should be reviewed by the Vermont Public Service Board.

Gekas says she would have supported the bill because she wants to shut Vermont Yankee  down as soon as possible

Note: This story has been modified to clarify Phil Scott’s rationale for his vote on the 2010 bill regarding Vermont Yankee.

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