Vermonters With Vision

Searsburg and Readsboro
Kenyon | DeGrey | Kirby Mtn. | Shea

Kenyon | DeGrey | Kirby Mtn. | Shea

Paul Kenyon, Feb. 20, 2007:

Initially, we went in there in the mid 80's -- can't remember for whom as the ownership of the projects changed hands a couple of times -- and followed the trails to the summits. There were hiking trails and a forest road that seems to have gone right over the mountain ridge to the Mass. side. At the summits, three, I think, we cut the trees (about 1/2 acre each site) for the met towers. I remember discussions about the canopy being opened on the summits like that, the thought being that without a contiguous canopy, the trees bordering the clear cuts would not have the support of the other trees and be prone to falling inward. As I recall, over the 8 years we took wind data, that did not happen.

In winter we took snowmobiles (often I did this alone) to gather the data chips each month, and at a high point of the declivity that enabled access I left the snowmobile and continued on snowshoes or skis. Sometimes there was evidence of others exploring the mountans, sometimes not.

The trails were pretty good, though, and, though not heavily traveled as they are on Snake Mountain, for example, they were obviously used. It was a recreational area.

So it went. Then in '95 they put the turbines in. That was sad. The trails were blasted for roads. The area became unrecognizable. It resembled a wasteland with the ancient rock exposed. Cordage from the blasting ("det-cord" I believe it's called) was strewn all over the place and the newly exposed rock was everywhere. A mess. A moon-scape.

The next time I saw it, the towers were up. In a messy, bulldozed section to the north of the main road there was a guyed lattice tower set up as a meteorological tower. I instrumented that tower. It's about 120 ft. tall.

As far as I know now (telephone conversation with Green Mountain Power) the area is no longer a recreational site. It is off-limits to recreational visitors. There is a chainlink fence and a gate at the bottom of the main access road. The fence seems to extend into the woods. I don't know if it goes farther in or around the entire site. Hard to imagine but possible, I suppose. It looked as though hunters used to go in there in the fall and I believe that's no longer allowed.

There were a number of wetlands up in there, especially in the top of the declivity between knolls on which the test towers were erected. I think those wetlands are gone but I don't know. I never went that far in after they started blasting for the roads. I'll bet those wet areas were on topos and could be seen to be either there or gone now.

I was working for NRG Systems at the time I visited and worked in there. As far as I knew we had the data and I suspect they still might somewhere.

Kenyon | DeGrey | Kirby Mtn. | Shea

Gerry DeGrey, Feb. 19, 2007:

A wind farm is proposed for our back yard approximately 3/4 of a mile west of our back door. We already have an existing farm here in Searsburg, two miles south of our property, I can hear those machines. The noise emitting from machines due west of us would be unbearable. We have 5 abutting landowners who are very concerned, angry and scared of losing our peaceful environment. A prehearing conference is scheduled for March 2 before the Public Service Board. A deadline for motions to intervene will be set at this hearing. Our town selectmen have endorsed this project without including the residents in this small town in the decision. I have knocked on doors and found an overwhelming opposition to this project.

Kenyon | DeGrey | Kirby Mtn. | Shea

Kirby Mountain Blog, Mar. 23, 2006:

Tom Shea has shared more about his experience as neighbor of the small wind power facility in Searsburg, Vermont (see earlier post, "industrial droning"):

"No one I know has gotten accustomed to these monstrosities. ... I unfortunately have a clear view of these things and can hear them quite learly from inside my house. ... They have destroyed the peace and quiet that my family had enjoyed for over 40 years in this wilderness. They make noise when turning, and make really loud bangs when the turning mechanisms require work, which is just short of constantly."

Regarding the recent tearing off of half a blade on one of the machines:

"I am a chemical engineer, MIT '86. My unprofessional opinion is that there is not a chance that lightning was the cause of this failure."

Despite the company's report that lightning tore off the blade during a storm, some people have questioned that claim. For example:
I expect that the Searsburg blade was broken by a sudden gust from the side, perpendicular to the axis of rotation. In high winds the blades are stopped and turned so that their leading edges face into the wind to minimize stress. This works fine if the wind stays in line with the axis of the windmill. In the event of a sudden sideways gust, at least one of the three blades will be sufficiently vertical to be broadside to the wind and subject to severe stress. Since the blades are not turning there is little centrifugal stress on the blades to keep them straight. This means the blades can be bent to the point of cracking the inelastic fiber reinforcing, causing failure. In mountainous terrain the wind gusts are so variable in direction that this kind of blade failure is likely.
The company would rather claim lightning damage (1) because they probably have insurance against damage by lightning but not by wind and (2) because it doesn't look so good if it's the wind that damages the machines. This is at least the third blade failure at Searsburg.

And remember, these models are relatively small to those being proposed today.

Kenyon | DeGrey | Kirby Mtn. | Shea

Tom Shea, Aug. 8, 2005:

To Gina Owens, District Ranger, USDA Forest Service

I am writing in regard to the electrical generating facility proposed for the Green Mountain National Forest in Searsburg and Readsboro, Vermont. I am an abutter (at 343 South Road, Route 8) to the Forest near where the generating facility is being proposed. My family owns the two closest houses to the existing generating station.

I am deeply concerned on the impact both on the wildlife, and on the general public's (myself and my family included) ability to enjoy the uniquely beautiful area, that this industrial generating station will have.

My family has a history in Searsburg, dating to the early 19th century, when my great great grandfather moved to town. My parents first bought property in the early 1960's. The attraction was obvious. It is a remote, still wild, location of a type that is rapidly disappearing. It is still the 'old woods'.

A little less than ten years ago, a 'small' generating station of a 'handful' of windmills was proposed and rapidly sent through the approval process. This was to generate 'clean' energy that was reported to be no more intrusive than the sound of a 'whisper'. I have endured the industrial droning for close to ten years, with the added arrhythmic clunk of the gears from the turning mechanisms. This is described as a 'barely noticeable' sound. I beg to differ. Due to this industrial noise pollution, I can no longer bring pets to the property, because the droning disorients them in the woods. The impact to the wildlife must be even more severe, despite the claims of the power company's 'consultants'. Regardless, my family's enjoyment of the quiet of the woods is severely diminished.

Now there is proposed a bigger generating station, with larger windmills, complete with aircraft warning lights. I have yet to see a detail on exactly where these enormous structures are to be located. Where will they be in relation to my property? Will they overlook my house? Why hasn't this been published? I suspect that is because they will be a huge eyesore. How can anyone expect a public response when these details have never been released? The propaganda pictures that the electric company published were taken five miles from the Searsburg town line. I do not consider this honest.

The 'public' comment phase of this project has been initiated without a clear plan as to what is being proposed. One can only assume that the power company considers residents of Searsburg, Readsboro, and all of Vermont to be simple 'hicks', who wouldn't understand the 'complicated' details.

Will there be 400 foot tall electrical generators overlooking my house? Will the pristine landscape be turned into an industrial park? Will this wild expanse of nature resemble a metropolitan airport with its landing lights? I request that more details on this project to be made public before the public input period is completed.

When the existing windmills were proposed, there was supposedly no opposition to them. The power company published (!) pictures of the view from our property that were taken while they were trespassing. They said that they had heard no opposition to the proposal. It should not have been hard to find a family in a town of less than 100, who had been there since the early sixty's. Yet the power company claimed that they had contacted all of the abutters. They had not contacted us, nor ANY of the other families that had their view of the mountains spoiled by these huge industrial machines. (They apparently only contacted tourists who never venture far from the road on the way to their ski vacations.) They subsequently published a glowing report that everyone they contacted liked the idea of the generators. This is a conclusion they decided on prior to contacting anyone. It is not intellectually valid.

Consider this letter documentation that I am opposed to any further industrialization of the forest.

I request that the proposed project be put on hold until ALL information regarding it is provided to the public, including exact locations of where each of these enormous electrical generators and high intensity strobe lights will be located.

Based on the last time this type of action happened, I cannot expect anything good to come of it. Hopefully the fact that it is on public land will have some bearing. I would like to think that I am one of the citizen landowners, and as such, would have some say as to whether this is a good idea. It is not, given the detail that has been provided.


It's not the view, it's the vision.