When wind turbines caused sleep deprivation, key lawmakers sided with Big Wind
Editor’s note: This is Part Two of a critique of Vermont’s government-renewable power industry complex written by Monique Thurston, a retired Addison County physician. She has been on the ground floor of opposition to wind power and the subsidized renewable power industry for over a decade. See Part One in yesterday’s Vermont Daily Chronicle.
Many Vermont lawmakers – including some now holding powerful positions on energy committees – have ignored the physical and financial suffering created by industrial wind turbines and their backers, the ratepayer-subsidized renewable power industry.
I was there. I saw it happen.
In March 2016, I testified before the Legislature in support of S230, letting towns and planning commissions limit nighttime wind turbine noise levels. Yet Governor Peter Shumlin vetoed the bill and then pushed through a more industry-friendly bill because he felt the reference to wind turbine sound levels could jeopardize new wind energy installations! He had no empathy for Vermonters suffering from turbine-induced sleep deprivation who had pleaded their cases to the House energy committee, chaired by Rep. Tony Klein (D-E. Montpelier and a former renewable energy lobbyist) and co-chaired by Kesha Ram (D-Burlington).
The debate over turbine noise gave me an unobstructed view of the power lobbyists like Paul Burns and Ben Walsh of VPIRG, Austin Davis of Renewable Energy Vermont (a Vermont energy development lobby organization), and Spanish wind energy developer Iberdrola’s lobbyist, Todd Bailey.
Among the legislators who actively opposed more protective noise limits was Senator Christopher Bray (D-Addison), Senate Natural Resources Committee Chair.
I was present when Senator Bray opposed Rep. Mike Hebert ‘s suggestion of an emergency rule of 35 nighttime decibels in the final bill at the very end of June 6 session. Ultimately, under the pressure from dedicated citizens, the legislature tasked the Public Service Board (now named the Public Utility Commission) with rulemaking to address turbine noise impacts on impacted residences. In 2017, the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules approved the rules governing wind sound proposed by the PSB that so many Vermonters, showing up daily to the State House in their green vests, so dearly fought for.