AS INTEREST picks up among energy companies seeking to build wind farms in rural Vermont, some lawmakers are pushing a three-year moratorium on any new ridge-line wind projects in the Green Mountain State. That comes after two projects, one with 16 turbines, the other with 21, have gone on line in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and while Seneca Mountain Wind, a wind-energy joint venture, is studying the feasibility of siting another 35 turbines in that remote area.
Residents of towns near proposed wind projects are concerned about noise and deforestation, along with the loss of some pristine views. Their opinions should be heard as part of the state’s existing permitting process, which gives serious weight to the feelings of towns that openly reject wind projects.
But the Legislature should turn down the call for a three-year time-out. When properly sited, wind power produces electricity with minimal side effects; it can be a useful part of the renewable-energy mix. Further, Seneca Mountain Wind has promised that if any town votes no after the company has made a detailed presentation, the company will abandon plans to put turbines in that jurisdiction.
In that context, a moratorium is simply too blunt an instrument. Proposed wind projects should be evaluated on their individual merits, with appropriate concern for community objections. But they shouldn’t be ruled out by state law.