The Politics of Wind-Blowing | Freyne Land

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Politics of Wind-Blowing

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2006 at 5:38 PM

Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie attracted over 100 supporters to the Lincoln Inn in Essex Junction at 9:30 Thursday morning to officially launch his reelection campaign. Doobie-Doo lost in 2000,  his first statewide shot, but won the next two. With Democrats Matt Dunne and John Tracy engaged in a temperature-rising Lite-Guv primary, and Progressive Marvin Malek M.D. in, too, Dubie's certainly favored to win a third term in the November three-way.

Brian, our favorite commercial airline pilot, was his usual folksy, pleasant self. Had some good lines:

“I have chose collaboration over confrontation. I’ve chosen to build relationships and not headlines. I promise to continue the work that I’ve started.”

But given what was on our schedule for 10:30 a.m. in Hinesburg, we couldn't help but notice what Dubie did not mention and it was a conspicuous absence. When he addressed the energy issue he promised he will "work for a sustainable energy future for Vermont. Our energyfuture is changing before our eyes."

Lt. Gov. Dubie mentioned increased cow-power (i.e. methane production from cow shit) the need for "greater efficiency and conservation," and the need to maintain a good relationship "with our friends in Quebec who may provide energy options forVermonters into the 21st century. Choices for our energy future arecritical as we move forward," said the Doobster!

But it's what he didn't say that stuck out. Lt. Gov. Dubie did not mention wind energy. Not once. Not even an allusion.

Do you suppose the fact that Vermont's most outspoken opponent of commercial wind energy  had just introduced him, sang his praises, and was standing over his right shoulder had anything to do with it?

The Dubie announcement was over in a half-hour and we made NRG Systems in Hinesburg for the 10:30 VPIRG announcement.

VPIRG released a 26-page report, a plan, actually, to get Vermont from its current use of 15 percent renewable electricity up to 50 percent or more in 10 years. It's called "A Decade of Change."

Skeptics take note!

"There’s a tremendous amount of optimism in terms of the solutions that areout there," said VPIRG's clean-energy guru James Moore. "It’s not pie-in-the-sky technology that doesn’t exist. Wehave the solutions to meeting our electricity needs through localrenewable resources - over half of our needs within a decade. That isvery achievable."

Sounds good. But what about Gov. Douglas' uncompromising opposition to commercial wind power in Vermont? VPIRG's report says in 10 years we could get 20 percent of our juice from it. We currently get just 1 percent. Why?

Because Gov. Douglas says he want to protect our pristine ridge lines, our unique rural landscape. It's the postcard look that makes Vermont "Vermont!"  And it attracts a few tourists, eh? Don't want to mess with that market, eh?

But NRG Systems CEO Jan Blittersdorf said because Vermonters don't actually see the sources of their electricity, they don't "realize the danger." The Wind CEO pointed out that 50 percent of our region's electricity currently comes from burning coal.

"It’s dirty and it’s harmful to our forests," said Blittersdorf. Gov. Douglas "may want to protect those ridge lines, but those ridge lines may be changed dramatically by the effects of global warming in not too long of a time."

Plus, she noted, with wind farm development surging (and a two-year wait for new commercial windmills at the moment), folks are suddenly learning wind farms bring in more than clean power - they bring in tourists!

“There are wind farms all over the place that are creating visitor centers," said Blittersdorf. "Other parts of the country and world are not finding their land is destroyed by this. In fact, people are coming to see them and enjoying what they see and finding them inspiring The fact that they don’t pollute our air and water and land is what Gov. Douglas is missing."

P.S. Coincidentally, we heard just a few days ago from GOP sources about a GOP state rep and wind-energy opponent who just returned from a  vacation trip through wind-farm rich Pennsylvania.

Guess what?

She had no idea that what the Guv loves to call "industrial" wind farms were so..."beautiful"....and "gentle"....and "pastoral."



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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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