I just got this in from Justin Turco in Vermont. It seems that Iberdrola is not content to simply steal our subsidy money and destroy businesses and lives by developing strictly private land. Now they are trying to steal our National Forests as well.
It’s time we were all outraged! This sort of thing can not be allowed to continue indefinetly!
The following information from Justin is important for all of us. Please take the time to read it, and if you can, attend one of the meetings, or send written comments. If projects like this are allowed to be built in our National Forests, then we really must conclude that nothing is sacred anymore.
Next Thursday night in Rutland (6 p.m.) and the following Tuesday night in Readsboro (6 p.m.), the USFS is holding open houses to accept public input on the proposed expansion of the Searsburg wind project. Instead of 200 foot tall turbines, the new ones would be 400 feet tall, in critical bear habitat, acknowledged to contribute to bird and bat deaths, and requiring restricting access to land set aside in perpetuity for public and wildlife, not a large Spanish corporation, Iberdrola.
The SDEIS contains two maps in the appendices showing possible other locations to build wind turbines on USFS land in Vermont. Here is a link to one of the maps.
This is a link to the explanation. Note that all the sites are referred to at “Iberdrola #_”
http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai.com/11558/www/nepa/9046_FSPLT2_031126.pdfIf this project goes forward, it sets a precedent that will be hard to overcome. Please come to the meetings and spread the word to get others to come. Because of its location and area interest, I suspect the Rutland meeting will be better attended than the Readsboro one, so if you are in Southern Vermont, please do everything you can to get people to attend that meeting. [note that as of the time of this email going out, the forest service website is down so none of the materials are currently available. Check back later.]
Written public comment is not due until Feb. 18. There is no need to provide written comment right now, and we hope to get you some specific information in time for the written public comment period. Right now is the time to show up in person, and ask the USFS to deny the permit. This is our land, it is the home of wild creatures who need it.
867 Cross Road,
January 15, 2011
Dear Ms. Madrid,
Thank You for the opportunity to comment on the proposed “Deerfield Wind” project on our National Forest Lands in Searsberg and Readsboro.
Before a project proposal reaches your desk for approval of a “special use permit” two things must be shown to the Public Service Board (PSB) of Vermont:
1) The project is in the interest of the “public good”.
2) That there is a need for the power. These two goals were not met in the issuance of “Docket 7250: Certificate of Public Good” to Deerfield Wind by the PSB
1) Being in the “good of the public” requires more than a statement full of empty buzzwords that the project: “Will produce clean, renewable energy.” It would require a project that isn’t 30% paid for by the taxpayer, doesn’t “cash in” on the production tax credit, doesn’t allow the devloper to depreciate the project in 5 years, sell and the next guy depreciate the project in 5 years, sell and the next guy…., it would also require that the developer doesn’t sell the renewable energy credits, which drive up the costs of other goods and services. Wind doesn’t produce the power that the industry repeatedly touts it is “capable” of producing. It produces 25 to 30% of that number. Most importantly it would require a project that actually makes power which a grid manager can count on to be available when needed. Wind never does that. The developer claims 9 jobs will be created. History indicates that this number will be about 2. Each of these jobs have been shown to destroy 2.4 jobs in other sectors due to money being shifted away from other industrys. Per Paul Johnson, the NFS Energy Coordinator, the NF second level of screening, Criteria 2 says: is it in the public interest? On June 29-30, 2010 at a conference in Boston, Paul said, “The answer depends on the position at the LOCAL level.” I interpret that to mean our local Forest Supervisor under the direction of people at a local level. As a local, and for the many reasons above, I respectfully submit that the Deerfield Wind project is not in the public interest.
2) Do we need this energy? No. We’ve got 32,000 MW of capacity in New England. Our daily load is 22,000. Vermont, with a daily load of 1200 MW only uses 1/18 of the energy used in New England. I feel no responsibility to destroy parts of our Green Mountain National Forest to solve somebody’s “perceived” energy shortage in the city. (As a side note: Vermont Yankee, which only produces 620 stable MW, is also not needed. Point 133 in PSB Docket 7250 incorrectly identifies why it is that the Deerfield Wind project will NOT displace baseload hydro or nuclear power on the grid. The correct answer: Wind, being so variable, can’t.)
In your issuance of a special use permit, I would think it must be shown that the benefit to the public must outweigh the environmental impact of a project. As you know, one of the 3 deciding board members at the PSB (John Burke) didn’t feel that this project met that requirement. He did not want to issue the Cert. of Public Good. His dissenting comments are at the end of Docket 7250.
I carefully read in it’s entirety, the history of the creation of our National Forests in the US, from a document on the Forest Service Website. I was repeatedly struck by the clear message that our National Forests are here to “De-Develop” ,“take areas back in history”, “regenerate forests”, “protect the land and wildlife”, “Help LOCAL economies and people” (This Spanish Energy Developer isn’t going to do that.), and accomplish a fundamental goal of “restoring lost forests of the entire nation“. The Deerfield Wind project goes against each one of the historical purposes of the National Forest.
With good reason. Our Agency of Natural Resources is strongly against this project. Not just the Western array, but also the Eastern array. Point 155 of docket 7250. The entire project is in a headwaters area above 1500 feet. 11 streams will be affected . There will be 18 storm water discharge points, 10 of which are above 2,500 feet msl. Clean water comes from up high, not from the beaver flows below. Destroying this habitat with 28,000 bear scarred beech in the vicinity of the project area isn’t made right by the developer conserving some ALSO “critical” bear habitat somewhere else. In todays world we need both parcels of “critical” bear habitat. The National Geographic Magazine just released a photo showing the 32 bats, 4 song birds and one raptor killed by a single average turbine over the course of a year in Pennsylvania. Adding the (15) 400 foot turbines from this project, to the existing 200 foot turbines on private land in Searsberg to the wind turbines in the nearby proposed Hoosac Wind Farm makes for a significant cumulative environmental impact. Page 86 of docket 7250 says this area is also home to: moles, voles, mice, shrews and weasel. “Extensive” beaver wetlands near the western array are habitat for mink, river otter, and beaver. Eastern Cottontail, snowshoe hare, E. Chipmunk, gray squirrel, red squirrel and flying squirrel (and who doesn‘t love those things!), fisher, bobcat, coyote, red and gray fox. My conclusion: this is not a sterile stand of rock maple.
Pg 21 of PSB Docket 7250 says that the project “must” comply with the visual qualities of the NF Plan, and then on page 62 it says that the PSB determined the project “is out of character and incompatable to existing landscape. Ms. Madrid, as an average person I submit to you, the Deerfield Wind project will offend my sensibilities. It is offensive and shocking because it IS out of character with its surroundings and significantly diminishes the scenic qualities of the area.
From the “initial screening criteria” for projects on NF lands:
Criteria 3: Addresses public health or safety concerns.
This project treads very close to the line. It has been calculated that Searsberg resident, Thomas Shea will experience noise levels of 42 db (averaged out over a one hour period of time) at his home as a cumulative result of this project. The maximum is 45db at the exterior and 35 db in the bedroom. Does it take one hour of noise to wake you up at night? Intermittent spikes in the noise level due to 180 mph blade tip speeds, the twump of the blades passing the tower, and the intermittent phasing or synching of individual turbines with turbines nearby will penetrate and vibrate his house like a drum. As it has in other communities, this will ruin his good nights sleep and change his life. Ice throw, structural failure (one of the existing turbines in searsberg has already come crashing down and a year ago one fell in Fenner, NY.), and shadow flicker as well as a host of other health concerns follow with the activation of an industrial wind facility. This are reasons in part why they will gate the roads and “post” the area.
Gating the roads and posting the area, creates an “exclusive use” situation. Per Paul Johnson the FS’s Agency Energy Cordinator, Criteria 4 of the initial level screening says a project can’t create an exclusive right of use. I have documented photos of the gated road of a back entrance to Iberdrola’s Lempster facility. They would take even a sailors breath away. Vermonters don’t appreciate being shut out of our land.
FSH 2709.11, Chapter 10, Section 12.32a states: the proponent must explain the selection of the location of the proposed use and why use of National forest System lands is necessary and why lands under other ownership cannot be used, Forest Service policy goes on to state “Deny proposals for use of National Forest System lands when the request is based solely on affording the proponent with a lower cost or less restrictive location than can be obtained on non-Federal lands.”
The developer is concerned about costs and in documented testimony has claimed the project isn’t economically viable without both the east and west portions of the project being built. That is not our problem. There are other private lands available that could be pursued.
This project sets a precedent for wind development in the Green Mountain National Forest that will ricochet across the nation. Right now 37 viable wind development sites have been identified in the GMNF. The Deerfield Project comprises site 31, an 8,000 foot long ridge, and 33, a 6,800 foot long ridge, but per FS documents, Site 35 is nearly identical in many ways. What is to keep another developer from coming along and saying, “I‘ll take site 35, a 20,447 foot long ridge. You did it for Iberdrola, do it for me.”
And finally, I would like to speak to something that I have personally witnessed on more than one occasion from Iberdrola. Iberdrola publicly decries the “process”. My response to that, sorry but your trying to destroy my Yellowstone National Park. This is where I recreate. This is where my great grandkids will recreate someday when everything else is used up. It’s where they will go to catch a string of dark bellied native brook trout. And like many Vermonters have done in the past, where they will creep back into this “land of plenty” to fill their freezer with venison. Iberdrola’s Sr. Permitting Manager, has got to the point where she no longer see the difference between a place like our National Forest and a field next to an interstate in Kansas, on private land. The sense that they know what is right for us, that John Q. Public can’t think for himself and an oozing attitude of self entitlement (no doubt from the billion dollars in free money they got from our government last year) makes me sick.
The Deerfield Wind Project is just a small part of the impending useless destruction of Vermont’s Green Mountains, but it is in part, mine, and part of the National Treasure of the United States. So I will fight the squandering and sacrifice of it first, and with every ounce of energy I can find.
Ms Madrid, leave your mark on our part of the National Forest in a way future generations will thank you for. It’s time to get “mean“. Your forest users are standing with you.
Take “No Action” on the Deerfield wind proposal.