Backers of a planned seven-turbine wind energy project in Swanton said this week they’re withdrawing their application for a state permit.
A combination of factors led to the decision, said Nick Charyk, a spokesman for the Swanton Wind project, who characterized this as “a pause, not a halt.”
The factors he cited include Gov. Phil Scott, who campaigned in part on opposition to further large-scale wind energy development.
The Scott-appointed chairman of the Public Utility Commission, Anthony Roisman, also has “been public about his desire to stop wind,” Charyk said. The PUC recently adopted sound limits for wind turbines that environmentalists say will prevent future wind energy development in the state. Projects like the one proposed in Swanton require a permit from the commission.
A further obstacle is the tax plan before Congress, Charyk said, which was developed by House Republicans hoping to roll back tax benefits for wind energy. That proposal, he said, “is having a chilling effect on the industry at large.”
Proponents of Swanton Wind had billed it as a model for other wind energy developers to follow, as they offered to buy out neighbors bothered by the sound the turbines produced.
But neighbors of the proposed project believed the turbines wouldn’t just create noise.
They have said the installation would require an interstate-sized roadway built to the top of the hillside where the turbines were to be located.
Some also cited fears that the project would crack their homes’ foundations and introduce carcinogenic radon into their basements; poison the water in their wells; and cause cardiac illness and other physical ailments.
The bid by Travis and Ashley Belisle to put wind turbines on the hill they own behind their Swanton house has been expensive and frustrating, Charyk said, but he added that it may not have been futile.
The Belisles’ property remains a good location for a wind project, Charyk said, and people will probably want to take advantage of that at some point in the future.