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.

Learn more about wind power in our in-depth FAQ.

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 five to eight 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 retirementWind 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. That includes the state’s ambitious vision for our clean energy future. 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. This plan was updated in 2016, and will be revisited every 6 years going forward.

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.”

Learn more: check out our FAQ to dive deeper into wind power in Vermont. 

Recent Wind Energy News

Vermont Energy Generation Siting Commission

Vermont Energy Generation Siting Commission

In October 2012, Governor Shumlin appointed a commission to look at the energy generation siting process in Vermont. The committee is tasked with making specific recommendations  for how the state might improve the siting process when compared to other states, as well as how to best integrate public participation in the process. Read the report here!

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VPIRG’s Leah Marsters reflects on her tour of Sheffield

VPIRG's Leah Marsters reflects on her tour of Sheffield

Vermonters’ overwhelming support for clean energy, and wind in particular, is threatening to a handful of opposition groups bent on dismantling our state’s commitment to take responsibility for generating our own energy.  With the media choosing largely to focus on covering the fear and controversy wind opponents have successfully drummed up, it’s probably tough to ...

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Bill Passed! Now Easier to Power with Renewables

Bill Passed!  Now Easier to Power with Renewables

Vermont leaders took another step in the right direction toward our clean energy future. The Vermont House unanimously passed a bill (H.475) that improves the State’s net metering program and makes it even easier for Vermonters to power their homes and businesses with renewable energy.

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Anti-Wind Amendment Defeated

Anti-Wind Amendment Defeated

Late in the evening on Thursday April 26th the Senate debated and ultimately defeated one of the most anti-environmental pieces of legislation that’s been proposed all year. Despite strong evidence that an overwhelming majority of Vermonters support clean energy development, and wind power as a vital piece, a group of Senators tried to insert a ...

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Important Information About Wind and Vermont’s Energy Future

Important Information About Wind and Vermont's Energy Future

Increasing the use of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar and encouraging conservation and efficiency is the responsible thing to do. Vermont is on the right path now. By the end of 2012 Vermont will get 10% of our electricity from clean, local wind power, helping Vermonters take control of our energy future, keeping ...

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Important Information About Wind and Vermont’s Energy Future

Important Information About Wind and Vermont's Energy Future

VPIRG continues to show support for the responsible development of wind power in Vermont. Wind, as one of the cleanest and environmentally responsible forms of electricity out there, must play a significant role in our clean energy future. With just the 5 permitted wind projects in the construction phase, or already built, around 58,800 Vermont ...

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Wind must be part of VTs energy future

Wind must be part of VTs energy future

Countering a group of anti-wind activists gathered at the State House today, Vermont’s largest environmental and consumer advocacy group made clear that responsible development of our state’s renewable wind resources, both large and small, is an essential part of our clean energy future.

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VPIRG comments on energy plan available here

The Shumlin administration released the first draft of their Comprehensive Energy Plan in September and entered a rigorous comment period where over 6,000 Vermonters, including groups like VPIRG, weighed in on the plan.

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