Wind Tur­bines and com­mon sense

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEFS -

Rule­sof civ­i­lized neigh­bor­hood are not a ques­tion of borders but of com­mon sense. In fact, it is pre­cisely the prin­ci­ple by which the AQPER (As­so­ci­a­tion québé­coise de la pro­duc­tion d’én­ergie re­nou­ve­lable), a group heav­ily in sup­port of re­newed en­ergy in Que­bec, has voiced its op­po­si­tion to the project tar­get­ing the in­stal­la­tion of in­dus­trial wind tur­bines at the Que­bec bor­der with Ver­mont.

The AQPER, usu­ally an avid pro­moter of wind tur­bines, has stated in an open let­ter ad­dressed to the me­dia last week that this Amer­i­can led ini­tia­tive in­tend­ing to in­stall wind­mills at the bor­der of Ver­mont and Que­bec is a mis­take. In or­der to gen­er­ate and sus­tain new forms of en­ergy, there must be public buy-in, projects like the Der­byS­tand­stead ven­ture is a per­fect ex­am­ple of dam­ag­ing the com­mu­ni­ties’ sen­ti­ment vis-à-vis this oth­er­wise in­ge­nious wind process. Jean-françois Sam­ray, pres­i­dent of the or­ga­ni­za­tion has also expressed his op­po­si­tion to the project in align­ment with the pro­fes­sional ad­vice of an ex­pert in wind mills who used to work as a ma­jor con­sul­tant for Hy­dro Que­bec.

Why is it such a bad project? One needs to say it over and again to clearly be heard. These tur­bines are much too close for com­fort. To be more pre­cise, the project ac­tu­ally is a word break­ing record of prox­im­ity to house­holds, gen­uine homes. To name but a few of their known risks, dur­ing the win­ter sea­son, these enor­mous struc­tures have the po­ten­tial of pro­ject­ing ice break­ages onto to the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity there­fore en­dan­ger­ing the safety and se­cu­rity of res­i­dents within the com­mu­nity. An­other known risk is the po­ten­tial health haz­ards caused by the sound em­a­nat­ing from the wind­mills. Not to say any­thing about the im­por­tant lost in val­ues for homes.

One may ask whether there is any truth in these is­sues and risks or whether they are merely the­o­ret­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties. The true be­liev­ers in wind tur­bines may an­swer the lat­ter, and that the chances of the risks man­i­fest­ing them­selves are minute. How­ever, should we fol­low their be­liefs like the blind lead by the blind and bla­tantly dis­re­gard any of the un­fa­vor­able ef­fects? If a risk is present why take any chances at all? Since Ver­mont is a very large state, the project could very well seek other ar­eas where no such public health haz­ards or public safety would be in cause. In its last is­sue,

pointed out that wind tur­bines may grow some­day on the Que­bec side of the bor­der which is a true fact. Let it be known that there are al­ready many wind tur­bines in Que­bec, such as in Ver­mont and many other places around the world. Once again, one must be care­ful not to trans­late that the high pres­ence of wind tur­bines across the world means that these struc­tures have found their right­ful place in so­ci­ety and award them carte blanche to be set any­time, any­where any­how around the world, as is the de­bate in Derby.

I spoke last week for quite a long time with Chad Farell and Nick Richard­son of En­core Re­de­vel­op­ment. «In all hon­esty, would you per­son­ally live so close to the wind tur­bines», I asked them? I was pleased to hear a clear «No».

I was also com­forted to hear how they ad­mit­ted hav­ing made mis­takes on eval­u­at­ing the con­se­quences of their project for the life of Cana­di­ans. They went as far as stat­ing that they are al­ready con­sid­er­ing re­duc­ing the num­ber of tur­bines to one as op­posed to the two they had orig­i­nally planned for. Nev­er­the­less, to be pleased and com­forted is not suf­fi­cient. Joined by my fel­low Stanstead cit­i­zens and neigh­bors, we will only be happy once they clearly un­der­stand the neg­a­tive im­pacts their project will have on our com­mu­nity and once they re­think the lo­ca­tion. To tar­get the bor­der is an er­ror.

En­core Re­de­vel­op­ment is a com­pany still at its be­gin­nings with a tremen­dous po­ten­tial to grow into a solid ven­ture. At the start of any busi­ness, some­times the wrong calls can be made with dev­as­tat­ing long term ef­fects. Other times, a wrong call can quickly be turned around and no dam­age was done. As a «green» com­pany aim­ing growth and suc­cess, I urge them to rec­og­nize a “bad call” when they see it and hope they come to their senses, sooner rather than later.

Sen.Bernie San­ders (I-VT.) to­day wel­comed Postmaster Gen­eral Pa­trick Don­a­hoe’s decision to aban­don plans to close 3,600 ru­ral post of­fices, in­clud­ing 15 in Ver­mont, but voiced reser­va­tions about a new plan to cut hours of op­er­a­tion.

San­ders called on the House to pass a Postal Ser­vice re­form bill that a bi­par­ti­san ma­jor­ity of sen­a­tors ap­proved on April 25.

He said he is in­creas­ingly con­fi­dent that many postal sort­ing fa­cil­i­ties once slated for shut­downs will be spared, in­clud­ing one at White River Junc­tion, Vt.

But he ques­tioned as­pects of Don­a­hoe’s new plan, an­nounced ear­lier to­day, to cut hours of op­er­a­tion at 13,000 post of­fices, in­clud­ing 145 in Ver­mont.

“The good news is that all 15 ru­ral post of­fices slated to be shut down in Ver­mont will re­main open. The bad news is that dozens of post of­fices in Ver­mont and around the coun­try will see their hours cut. I will con­tinue to fight to keep as many of these post of­fices open for as long as pos­si­ble,” San­ders said.

“While I have no doubt that some ru­ral post of­fices could see hours cut, I am con­cerned about the im­pact of re­duced hours on many com­mu­ni­ties. The truth is that re­duc­ing hours in ru­ral post of­fices will not save sig­nif­i­cant amounts com­pared to the Postal Ser­vice’s over­all bud­get,” San­ders added.

The plan to cut post of­fice hours comes at a time when Congress is work­ing on leg­is­la­tion that would main­tain mail de­liv­ery stan­dards, keep postal fa­cil­i­ties open and cre­ate a new busi­ness model for the Postal Ser­vice – all with­out cost­ing tax­pay­ers a dime.

The Se­nate-passed bill ad­dresses the ma­jor rea­son for the Postal Ser­vice’s fi­nan­cial trou­bles – a $5.5 bil­lion an­nual man­date to pre-fund 75 years of fu­ture re­tiree health ben­e­fits in just 10 years. This oner­ous re­quire­ment, un­par­al­leled by any en­tity in the pri­vate sec­tor or gov­ern­ment, is re­spon­si­ble for more than 80 per­cent of the Postal Ser­vice’s debt. With­out that obli­ga­tion, the Postal Ser­vice would have posted a profit of $700 mil­lion from 2007-2010, and a $200 mil­lion profit in the first quar­ter of this fis­cal year. The Se­natepassed bill also ad­dresses the re­al­ity that the Postal Ser­vice over­paid $11 bil­lion into the Fed­eral Em­ploy­ees Re­tire­ment Sys­tem.

The mea­sure now await­ing ac­tion by the House also in­cludes a San­ders pro­vi­sion to let the Postal Ser­vice be­come more en­tre­pre­neur­ial. He wants the Postal Ser­vice to ex­plore new op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­crease busi­ness, such as ex­pand­ing dig­i­tal ser­vices, sell­ing hunt­ing and fish­ing li­censes, mak­ing copies, no­ta­riz­ing doc­u­ments, and cash­ing checks.

“The Postal Ser­vice does need a new busi­ness model in or­der to be suc­cess­ful in the 21st cen­tury. Rather than cut­ting ser­vices, Congress should lift re­stric­tions so the Postal Ser­vice can be­come more en­tre­pre­neur­ial and earn new rev­enue,” San­ders said.

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