(I didn’t say the title was flippancy-free.)
This afternoon, Lucas Snelling of Energize Vermont presented his group’s plan for a future Vermont powered (predominantly) by renewable sources — without any increase in wind power. EV supports the wind moratorium bill pending in the legislature; but beyond that, EV would clearly like to see no more utility-scale wind projects in Vermont, ever.
As with this morning’s “press conference,” Snelling was preaching to the choir: a room full of (approximately 80) anti-wind activists. As with the “press conference,” there was no opportunity for questions.
Before the event began, I introduced myself to Snelling. Afterward, he sought a brief word with me. Basically, he asked me to call him before writing about him or EV or wind, and complained about the “flippant media.” It was phrased with the artful obliqueness of the professional flack, but clearly he meant me.
And yes, I have been flippant and snarky, and I’m sure I will be again. That’s part of the stock-in-trade of the indy blogger, in case you hadn’t noticed. Flippancy also has a storied heritage in Vermont political discourse, stemming from the Golden Age of Peter Freyne, whose heights of rhetorical flippancy I can only hope to attain.
But just for this post, I shall be snark-free, and will try to enumerate my non-flippant concerns with Snelling and EV. I hope this will help people understand why I see the anti-wind crowd the way I do.
Questions and concerns… after the jump.
EV supports a three-year wind moratorium, but its 20-year energy plan does not include any increase in wind energy at all. Do you want a permanent ban on new utility-scale wind development? Under what conditions would you accept new wind development after a moratorium?
Would you be willing to accept new wind development now, if sited appropriately? Or is there no such thing as “appropriate” wind development?
Could you disavow some of the mistruths told by your supporters — for instance, the myth that wind advocates believe wind is the “magic bullet,” rather than one part of an overall solution? And that wind advocates want rampant, widespread turbine development? (The VPIRG report calls for six more wind farms the size of Lowell or Sheffield, which would supply 28% of our power needs and cause minimal disruption to the environment. And they call for appropriate sensitivity in siting decisions.) And that wind energy would do nothing to mitigate climate change?
Vermont’s established environmental groups, including VNRC, the Sierra Club, the Conservation Law Foundation, 350VT, and VPIRG, as well as the likes of Bill McKibben and Senator Bernie Sanders, all support wind as part of a plan for an entirely renewable electricity future. Why are they wrong, in your view?
Many of your supporters have accused McKibben, Sanders, and those environmental groups of corruption — of selling out their principles in pursuit of corporate support. Do you agree?
Why should I disbelieve these established groups with long track records, and accept the word of Energize Vermont, which is a three-year-old group that has (so far) refused to release any of its financial information?
Follow-up to establish EV’s bona fides: Could you provide EV’s basic financial information? List of donors — or, if you prefer, major donors (pick a number — $500 and up, $1,000 and up); annual budget and expenditures?
I realize you are not required to do so by law. But for the sake of transparency, please consider doing so.
Follow-up on your personal bona fides:
— How much are you paid as head of EV?
— I’ve found a residential address for you in Northampton, Massachusetts. Do you live in Vermont, or is Northampton your primary home?
— You are co-owner of Brave One, a PR firm based in Holyoke, MA. How would you describe the firm’s work and your role there? Can you provide a client list?
— Your partner in Brave One is Jesse Mayhew, who also acts as head of “Wake Up, Opt Out,” a group that opposes the use of smart meters. Are “Wake Up” and EV tied in any way? Did they arise out of your firm’s work or connections?
— Do you support or oppose smart meters?
EV’s 20-year plan includes significant increases in power from Hydro Quebec, which has significant environmental impacts, as you have yourself acknowledged. If we refuse to develop wind and instead import more power from HQ, are we not exporting the environmental costs of our power needs?
EV’s plan also includes increases in power sources that have attracted opposition from some of the same people who also oppose wind. You call for a huge expansion of solar power; the first major solar farm in Vermont has attracted opposition from nearby residents. You call for more biomass and local hydro, but those sources have also attracted opposition. There seems to be a movement essentially opposed to anything new anywhere. Are you and EV willing to endorse those power sources and support their expansion, even if it means alienating some of your own supporters?
There you go. Straightforward questions from a person who freely acknowledges he is an EV skeptic. If you want to convince people like me, and there are a lot of us, then these are the kinds of questions you will have to answer. And you’ll have to rein in (or disavow) the excesses of your supporters, who routinely seek to demonize the good people on the other side of the wind-power issue.