Articles from Vermont
The Unified Towns and Gores' displeasure with a proposed wind project is about to be codified in the town plan. Following a decisive "no" vote by property owners on the wind project last month, the UTG Planning Board has moved to add the vote outcome to the town plan.
A bill designed to increase local involvement in the review process for energy projects was endorsed by a Senate committee Wednesday. By a 4-1 vote, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee approved S.201, a bill that would give communities hosting new energy projects more say in the Public Service Board's review process. The bill also requires developers to present the board with a full carbon cycle analysis of the project -- the emissions created during construction and operation.
The developer of the proposed Grandpa’s Knob Windpark in Rutland County has canceled easement agreements with surrounding landowners. The developer, Reunion Power, sent letters to the towns of Pittsford and West Rutland last week saying it had terminated access agreements with property owners. The two towns are located on the east side of the proposed 20-turbine, 50 megawatt project to span Pittsford Ridge.
The board has asked for public comment on the impacts of sound from electricity generation plants on neighbors and how to measure that sound -- what is causing health impacts, what is the state-of-the-art science on noise, for example - and then will hold workshops to expand on those issues. In particular, the board wants to know if there should be a workshop specifically to hear from the people who are experiencing health problems from wind turbines and other energy projects.
One of the issues that keeps coming up is the highly technical and legal aspects of the process used to consider new energy generation projects, which make it difficult for average citizens or small towns to participate without hiring expensive experts. The order came this week after Lowell wind project neighbors Don and Shirley Nelson complained in January about the reporting and said that GMP had violated its certificate of public good.
Reider said he has six patients he sees, including one from St. Albans, who appearing to suffer headaches, sleeplessness, panic attacks, and general discomfort when close to wind turbines, specifically the 100 kw turbines manufactured by Northern Power Systems, the same model to be installed at the prison. “One person had to abandon his home, it was so severe,” Reider said.
Paul Brouha, resident of Sutton, Vermont, today filed suit in Caledonia Superior Court against Vermont Wind, Northeast Wind Partners II, and First Wind Holdings over the Sheffield Wind Project. The filing states that the noise from and the visual impact of the project are out of character with the surrounding area, continue for extended periods, and constitute a nuisance. The Complaint can be accessed at this link.
Town votes have no standing in the Section 248 process in which the Public Service Board issues or denies a certificate of public good (CPG) for energy and telecommunications projects. Wind developers, however, have made much of communities or groups that support a project, currently three of 14 (See Table 1.). Those opposing wind development in their communities have carried the 11 other town votes. There are also towns where the local governing bodies took a negative position or the town plan prohibits industrial wind (See Tables 2 and 3.).
Michael Mammoliti is a man under stress. He can’t sleep. He has headaches. His modest home has assumed bunker-like qualities, with some shades in the main room permanently drawn. He keeps the windows closed even in the heat of summer. Mammoliti blames it all on a 121-foot-tall wind turbine, erected by Green Mountain Power in December 2011 approximately 960 feet from his home.
The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee heard testimony Thursday on legislation to give property owners and local planners a stronger voice in the state’s energy project review process. The bill is partly a response to local recoil over industrial-scale energy projects. Environmental advocates say the policy could undermine the state’s renewable energy goals by blocking future development.
Wind projects have been mired by noise complaints and pushback from environmental conservationists in recent years. But Tuesday’s committee meeting raised the issue of property depreciation resulting from noise pollution. “I think it is a serious question that Sen. Galbraith is asking, because there have been property assessments reduced in Vermont because of these projects. And if that affects the education statewide property tax, then we are all paying for this. And most of us really don’t want to be."
"I was hoping they'd do the honorable thing and do what they should have done in the first place," which is hold a special town meeting. "All this is, is asking the minority to have a voice to express the fact that we don't like the tactics that have taken place or the ramifications that will hurt this town in the long run."
In a study McCann did on Lee County, Ill., the average price per square foot for a home outside 2 miles of the wind project was $104.72. For those that were within 2 miles of the project the average sale price was $78.84 per square foot - a decline in value of approximately 25 percent. One couple that was part of a panel at Friday's forum - Scott and Melodie McLane from Georgia, Vt. - experienced the depreciation of the value their home first hand.
Despite all the lofty talk of saving the world from global warming, these renewable energy projects have always been about the money. Throw up a bunch of renewable energy projects, hustle the tax credits and subsidies, and charge ratepayers exorbitant fees for intermittent power. Communities and mountains be damned.
The owner of Seneca Mountain is vowing to build a wind project on the Northeast Kingdom ridgeline over the objections of area property owners who rejected a proposal to build 20 industrial turbines.
The Vermont Supreme Court ordered the town of Lowell to hold a special meeting to reconsider an anti-wind project article passed over at Town Meeting 2012, relying on Civil War-era case law in affirming a lower court order. ...
A tractor trailer carrying a boom used to repair a wind turbine blade on Lowell Mountain slid off the steep wind project access road and down an embankment Monday afternoon. The driver of the truck was assisted by members of the Lowell Fire Department ...This is the second accident involving a large truck and trailer carrying large parts for the wind project.
Stebbins says local communities should put their trust in the Public Service Board to assess both environmental and economic impacts of wind projects. Opponents say the PSB criteria are too narrow. So the debate is likely to continue, not only about individual projects, but about the way the state regulates them.
A Vergennes man says a wind turbine near his home is ruining his life and he’s ready to move out. Tuesday he will bring his case in front of the Vermont Public Service Board. “You think I want to live like this? I don’t want to live like this.”
By a count of 171 against to 107 in favor, the UTG voters rejected the industrial wind project developed by Eolian Renewable Energy of Portsmouth, N.H., which included cash payments for the residents if they became host to the wind project. From the beginning SMW/Eolian has promised they would abandon the wind development if a community rejected the official project proposal.