Castleton Polling Institute‘s recently-released poll results on wind energy were immediately reported as continuing support for wind energy development.  The Rutland Herald reported that the poll results “shows that 66 percent of Vermonters support wind turbine construction on Vermont’s ridgelines.”

VPIRG’s Paul Burns went even further claiming that  “This really should put an end to the question of where Vermonters stand on wind. They absolutely, unequivocally want more wind built in Vermont,” said Burns.

Castleton Polling Institute did not release information about locations where people were polled, but did release information about income and education levels.

Where do the 605 people who were polled live? On Vermont Public Television, the Barton Chronicle’s Bethany Dunbar pointed out that presumably the sampling was based on Vermont’s population, and that would skew the results towards urban areas not threatened by wind projects.  The graph below shows Vermont’s population by county, which we were left to assume was how the poll was conducted since these details were not released with the poll results.

Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 4.43.27 PM

A diligent Vermonter asked Castleton Polling Institute for the detailed results, and received the following

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 11.40.49 AM

which confirms that the people polled were more likely to live in counties where wind projects have not been proposed, and that the counties where wind projects have been proposed or constructed are under-represented.  A more accurate interpretation of these poll results is that Vermonters are saying Yes (to Wind) In Your Back Yard (YIYBY) or even Put It In Your BackYard (PIIYBY).

The Wind Spin machine has been working overtime to portray wind turbines as absolutely necessary to save the planet from climate change.  It is not until people are confronted with a real wind developer proposing a real wind project that the public gets educated.  The “True Believers” seem to need no facts, they just believe.  But, as with this poll, the details are important.

And it is a shame that the Castleton Polling Institute did not take the opportunity to ask more probing questions, such as

“Is a wind project proposed or constructed in your area?” and then ask

“After learning about it, do you support more ridgeline wind development in Vermont?”

along with a set of questions for people who do not have a wind development proposed for their area and have not looked into the details of wind turbine development on Vermont’s ridgelines.

While it may be a minor issue with these poll results, it is worth noting that counties with wind projects are under represented compared to census population while counties without wind projects are over-represented.

Counties with wind proposals or projects

Caledonia  under

Essex  under

Orleans  over

Rutland  under

Windham way under

Counties without wind proposals or projects

Addison over

Grand Isle over

Lamoille under

Orange under

Washington way over

Windsor under

Counties with proposals on county lines

Chittenden over

Franklin under

Bennington over

A more accurate view of the support for wind energy in Vermont is votes by Vermonters who live in towns where wind projects are proposed, where the results are nearly reversed from the Castleton Polling Institute’s.  Vermonters in urban areas are supporting wind development in the backyards of rural areas, because that is where the wind resource is.

Town Wide Votes
Against Wind For Wind
1 Sheffield  93  120 to continue to explore the wind project (PR campaign by First Wind).
2 Lowell  114  342 in favor (PR campaign by GMP)
3 Readsboro  191  31 to allow expansion of the existing 11 turbine array
4 Barton  160  0 to oppose Sheffield Wind
5 Sutton  120  23 to oppose Sheffield Wind
6 Londonderry  425  213 to oppose wind turbines on Glebe Mountain
7 Manchester  62  60 not to support wind turbines on Little Equinox Mountain
8 Wilmington  51  15 to oppose the Searsburg expansion, also known as Deerfield Wind
9 Ira  80  29 to support town plan that prohibits wind turbines on ridgelines
10 Newark (1)  169  59 sept 2012: special town meeting: vote to support town plan that opposes wind turbines on ridgelines;
11 Hubbardton  94  6 to oppose commercial ridgeline wind development
12 Brighton  544  320 against the Seneca Mountain wind project:  non voting landowners opposed wind 289 against, 189 in favor,  53 undecided;  Voters opposed wind  255 opposed, 131 in favor, 34 undecided.
Total  2,103 1,218
63% 36%
Selectboard Actions
Hubbardton Unanimously opposes Grandpa’s Knob Wind
Castleton Unanimously opposes Grandpa’s Knob Wind
Pittsford Unanimously opposes Grandpa’s Knob Wind
West Rutland  3  1 Opposes Grandpa’s Knob Wind