What is wind power, and why is it clean?

For hundreds of years, humans have harnessed wind power for energy—from grinding grain and pumping water, to generating enough electricity to power millions of homes across the United States.

Vermont’s wind resource could provide far more electricity that it does today—for our homes and businesses, as well as for increasingly common and affordable electric heating and transportation options. But our state continues to rely on energy from dirty, dangerous and expensive sources. Generating electricity from burning coal, drilling for natural gas, or relying on leak-prone nuclear plants pollutes the air and water, and contributes to the carbon pollution that’s destabilizing our climate here in Vermont and around the world.

Wind power is clean because wind turbines don’t produce heat-trapping greenhouse gasses, or other air pollution, during their operation. It takes a tiny fraction of the water to produce wind power that it takes to produce power from coal, gas, or nuclear plants, leaving more water for other purposes.  And unlike fossil fuels and nuclear power, wind power doesn’t leak, spill, or threaten human health.

In fact, it takes a wind turbine just three to six months of operation to produce the same amount of energy that goes into its manufacture, its installation, its operation, its maintenance, and its eventual decommissioning. That means over the course of its lifetime a wind turbine delivers up to 80 times more energy than is used in its production, maintenance and retirement. Wind energy is among the lowest ‘lifecycle emissions’ of all energy production technologies.

What state plans exist to guide Vermont’s transition to a clean energy future?

As Vermonters, we take pride in our reputation as environmental leaders.  After many months of work and a tremendous amount of public input, in 2011 the state adopted a plan calling for 90% of our energy needs (electricity, heating and transportation) to be met with renewable resources by 2050.

Did you know?

Clean, local, renewable wind power first sustainably powered Vermont homes in 1941.
The first megawatt-size (1.25 MW) turbine in the world was installed and connected to the electric grid in Castleton, Vermont in 1941. The Castleton windmill remained the world’s largest until the serial production on wind turbines began in Holland in 1979.

American wind power has already made a significant impact on global warming pollution.
In their 2015 report, “Turning to the Wind,” Environment America found that, “Since 2001, wind power in the United States has displaced more than 764 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – more than a year’s worth of CO2 emissions from the entire country of Canada.” In addition, “In 2014 alone, wind-generated electricity averted an estimated 143 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – as much as would be produced by 37 typical coal-fired power plants.”


Recent Wind Energy News

Update on Wind Sound Standard


As the 2016 energy siting and planning bill was going through the final steps at the legislature last spring, the issue of setting statewide limits for sound from wind projects became a hot topic. Historically these limits had been set for each project individually. The bill, in its final form, tasked the Public Service Board ...

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New Wind Energy FAQ


We talk to Vermonters nearly every day about clean energy — so we know that people have a lot of questions when it comes to renewables. So, VPIRG is taking the most common questions we’ve heard and putting all the answers in one place — and we’re starting with wind power. We’ve answered questions like: Is wind power going to ...

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Golden Fleece: VPIRG Decries Waste of Taxpayer Money on Biased ‘Study’


The discovery of a $50,000 allocation buried deep in the state capital bill that was passed by legislators several months ago is stirring up significant controversy today. As first reported by Vermont Public Radio, the nondescript allocation was earmarked for Lyndon State College to purchase sound monitoring equipment. The equipment is to be used by a ...

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S.230 Fixed!

SVRC 11-06 020.2

Late last night the legislature passed a fixed version of the energy siting bill (S.230) previously vetoed by Gov. Peter Shumlin. The new bill (S.260) made four simple clarifications necessary to address the governor’s concerns. VPIRG supports this bill. It will empower towns and regions to take a greater role, and get a greater say, in ...

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Governor Vetoes S.230 – Let’s Fix It!


VPIRG supports Gov. Shumlin’s veto of the energy siting bill (S.230) and we strongly encourage legislators to fix the bill and send it back to the governor this week. We favor the bill that legislators thought they were voting for when they passed it overwhelmingly on the last night of the session. VPIRG wants to see ...

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Energy Siting Bill Passes!


Friday evening, after a flurry of back and forth negotiations between the House and the Senate – S.230, the energy siting bill, finally passed and is heading to the governor’s desk. The result is a bill that will do a lot to empower towns to take on a greater role in Vermont’s clean energy transition while ...

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Energy Siting Bill Clears Senate


S.230 – the energy siting reform bill – passed the Senate late Thursday on a 22 – 3 vote, but not before several significant battles and revisions on the Senate floor. The final result is a still-promising bill that contains some serious flaws. VPIRG, along with our supporters and allies, will need to work to improve S.230 ...

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