Letter to the editor: Candidate backs thoughtful renewable energy projects

Vermonters are talking about how renewable energy projects affect the environment, and this is a good thing. The problem is that the issue of where to put wind turbines and solar arrays is often framed in binary terms of good and bad. Phil Scott wants to put a halt to ridgeline wind projects, Sue Minter wants to expand wind energy and both want to give communities more control.
Last week I participated in a Community Values Mapping exercise in Cornwall. As my group marked up a map of town with the places that we share, find significant and love, we discussed renewable energy. We came to a consensus somewhere between the gubernatorial candidates’ positions — that yes we want more local control (that is, Cornwallians are still bruised from our struggle against the VT Gas pipeline project to International Paper), but no, we thought that wind and solar don’t boil down to good and bad. Instead we agreed that renewable energy is, just like that unused silo slowly becoming a trellis for vines, part of Vermont’s working landscape.
It’s not about natural beauty vs. cold hard economics; it’s about how we think about Vermont’s rural landscape as a place produced by both human work and natural dynamics. Our mapping group in Cornwall thought that wind turbines and solar arrays show new ways that our beloved Vermont landscape is working, and this doesn’t reduce to ‘for’ or ‘against.’
I think that Vermonters should ask themselves what sorts of working landscape Minter and Scott are advocating. I think of Scott’s as the Vermont past and Minter’s as the Vermont future landscape, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m supporting Sue Minter for governor.
Mike Sheridan

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