Rutland Herald
Nov. 1, 2003
Letter to editor

Power lines are unnecessary

As a Vermonter, would you support the expansion of Burlington to six times its present size?

The VELCO Northwest Reliability Project filed a transmission plan asking to build new power lines through Addison and Chittenden counties in order to provide power for Burlington and other towns during peak summer months. The use of power in northwest Vermont has increased by 9 percent in the past 10 years, but the magnitude of this project is simply insensible and expensive. The proposed energy lines would support enough energy flow to support a city six times Burlington's size.

The erection of these new power lines would make Vermont an energy highway for New York and other states in southern New England. At present, such a project would require Vermont ratepayers to pay millions of dollars for funding while providing power for these other states. Many towns in these counties are trying to convince the Vermont Public Service Board that the $130 million needed for this project should be spent on cleaner, renewable energies. Even VELCO admits in their report that other options have greater benefits to society than the proposed Northwest Reliability Project.

A number of viable alternatives other than the erection of more power lines are available. One idea is to start demand-side management programs, which would educate Vermonters to use energy more efficiently. Within eight years these programs, like the change of light bulbs and appliances, and use of alternative energy sources, could decrease energy use by 25 to 33 percent. A second idea is to seriously look at solar and wind energy options. The use of turbines in the Green Mountains is a credible alternative that could supply a substantial amount of power to the surrounding communities. In a study done by Middlebury College, it was found that a single wind turbine located in the mountains could supply the school with 50 percent of its power if it only generated power 40 percent of the time.

Finally, power lines are unhealthy, ugly, and wasteful. Scientists have conducted studies that neither prove nor disprove that electromagnetic fields cause cancer. Over 750 structures are within 1,000 feet of these new projected lines, including an elementary school. These power lines are an aesthetic concern as well. The power lines run through the center of Vergennes, crossing its river four times in the process. The addition of another set of power lines will further destroy its natural beauty. Lastly, power lines lose a lot of energy to heat when transporting electricity. Thinking in the long term, Vermonters should spend their tax dollar in producing cleaner energy closer to where it is needed.