Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Vermont
Residents voted 126 to 98 by paper ballot to spend up to $50,000 to pay a lawyer to keep fighting the Sheffield Wind Farm after a contentious special town meeting Wednesday night......... Sutton voters opposed the project at town meeting, but selectmen held a vote Wednesday responding to a petition to halt spending without voter approval. Most of the 224 Sutton residents gathered at the Sutton School told selectmen to “appropriate funds to continue to fund a lawyer to oppose the UPC Sheffield Sutton Wind project,” but several disagreed.
During a special town meeting Wednesday night, voters agreed 126-98 to spend an additional $50,000 over the next two years to fight a proposed wind farm in Sheffield and Sutton. It was standing room only in the multi-purpose room at the Sutton Town School as more than 200 people showed up to vote. About 15 people spoke either for or against spending the money authorization. “Sutton would be foolish not to have legal representation before the Public Service Board in these proceedings,” resident Sharon Nicol said.
With this overwhelming mandate from the voters and our town plan to defend, our selectmen did the proper thing by hiring an attorney to fight these out of state developers who would exploit our Town and the NEK for their own gain. Allowing this development of go ahead, right in the middle of the NEK, would be shortsighted and inconsistent with our Town Plan and the values Vermonters have shared about their landscape for centuries. Come on Nov. 8 and vote to support our selectmen and protect our town.
People have different takes on the wind tower controversy. Some will tell you it's all about global warming; others see it as a property rights issue. We tend to see it as a set of questions about the nature and future of small communities like our own. For instance, can they survive in the age of global corporations? Can they develop their own resources and plan their own destinies, or do they have value only when they can be developed by someone else and as part of someone else's agenda? And do they deserve to survive? Are they republics in miniature or merely the pocket-sized fiefdoms of a few good old boys? Do they hold together through ties of common interest and mutual affection, or must they inevitably be pried apart by any outsider who knows how to locate the fault lines of old resentments? If the pessimistic answers to the questions above are the true ones, then perhaps small towns ought to go the way of the dodo bird. In that case, UPC may truly be an instrument of progress. We happen not to think so, which is why we're betting on Sutton, and voting to keep the lawyer.
Changes to a proposed wind farm in Sheffield and Sutton have led the Public Service Board to delay technical hearings on the case. Hearings had been set to begin in early December, but have now been rescheduled for late January and early February, according to a PSB memorandum.
The prospect of truck traffic carrying wind turbine parts through the village of Barton has prompted officials here to request details on plans for building the proposed Sheffield Wind Farm. “We had been hearing rumors they (UPC Wind Management) were coming up Route 16 (and) turning on to Duck Pond Road,” to deliver construction materials, said Brian Hanson, Barton Village supervisor, who oversees electricity, water, sewer and roads for village residents. “I found out from other parties, then we requested a meeting with them.”
Would the PSB or any sane person allow any type of efficient base load generating facility to be built on these high elevation ridge lines? Obviously not. Then how could anyone allow an inefficient unreliable generating facility, visible for miles and close to residences and wetlands, to be built there?
The day after the Nov. 7 election, residents of Sutton will be asked to participate in another vote. Members of this Northeast Kingdom community will be asked to decide whether the town should continue to pay a lawyer to oppose the UPC Wind project proposed for the mountains around their town. Residents should vote yes.
BARTON — News that the Sheffield wind project will use access roads here to transport industrial turbines and towers to ridge line sites has prompted selectmen to seek an expanded role in the hearings before the Public Service Board (PSB). Following a Monday night meeting that saw citizens call for a more active role, the Barton Town Selectmen voted to petition the board for party status in the case. “I’m not saying one way or the other right now where we stand on the issue,” Chairman Rupert Chamberlin said in an interview Tuesday. He was reluctant to get the town involved in the ongoing debate over wind.
Changes to a proposed wind farm in Sheffield and Sutton will put Barton in the center of activity and that has some residents concerned. Residents urged selectmen during a meeting of the board Monday night to file for party status with the Vermont Public Service Board so the town can have a say in the process, Rupert Chamberlin, chairman of the board, said Wednesday. “Near as I can tell, there is a lot of concern,” Chamberlin said. “But the select board hasn’t taken a stand yet.”
UPC’s claims to the board and to the media, that they have worked with the community in making these changes, are a lie. They are attempting to divide and bankrupt the opposition with these tactics, and in so doing are undermining the 248 process by making it too expensive for a small poor town or opposing group to participate. If they are successful and get their foot in the door, they will surely try to put in more towers here in the future, and the rush of wind developers in the NEK will begin. Hopefully the board will see the arrogance and duplicity of UPC’s ploy, and dismiss this case as soon as possible.
To questions of environmental impacts, Gibbons said that there are very few, if any, renewable energy options that can meet the quick start, power capacity needs that the units are addressing. The generators will run only during peak usage — an estimated three percent of the year — and have the ability to start cold and be online within 10 minutes. This unique ability can help restore power during a blackout. Renewable energy such as wind, water or methane digestion, on the other hand, do not produce on the basis of need, Gibbons said.
We're a small town," Brouha said. "We don't have much money, but no matter how many spaghetti suppers we have to hold, we'll do whatever it takes to save our mountains." The Ridge Protectors asked the board to hold off acting on the petition until they could present the board with one of their own.
SHEFFIELD – Town officials here say they applaud UPC Wind's recent decision to reduce the number of turbines for the proposed Sheffield Wind Farm, even though it means less money for the town, Selectman Chairman Max Aldrich said Thursday. "It seems good they are trying and making an honest attempt to address the issues and we are pleased by that," Aldrich said. The town would get less revenue than under the original proposal because the number of turbines that would be built in Sheffield has been reduced from 20 to 14. The agreement with the town calls for UPC to meet a number of conditions and provides the town with taxes and other payments.
Facing strong opposition from neighbors and concerns from state officials, the developers of a large-scale wind project in the Northeast Kingdom have trimmed 10 of the wind turbines proposed for the site. The project, slated for the towns of Sutton and Sheffield, has met opposition from Gov. James Douglas and from neighbors, including the nearby private King George School. The down-sized project will leave the remaining wind turbines further from the school and neighboring houses, said Matthew Kearns, project manager for UPC Vermont Wind. “All of these changes are reductive. They have less impact,” he said.
Developers of a proposed wind farm in Sheffield and Sutton scaled back their plans from 26 towers to 16 Monday, but local opponents said the project remains too large-scale for its rural Northeast Kingdom setting...... “It’s like rearranging the furniture on the Titanic,” scoffed Greg Bryant of Sheffield, a spokesman for Ridge Protectors, an opposition group that claims 250 to 300 members. “You can’t hide an elephant behind a bush and you can’t hide a 420-foot tower on top of a mountain.”
The plan, which calls for 14 turbines in Sheffield and two in Sutton, eliminates the prospect of turbines on Hardscrabble Mountain, as well as the need for access to the site through the King George School property, according to the developers. It also makes the $75 million project invisible from St. Johnsbury, Danville, Kirby and Walden, even though the size of the turbines - 399 feet in the original proposal - has been boosted to 420 feet, they said.
[UPC] Vermont Wind will be filing revised testimony concerning a proposed project in Sheffield and Sutton with the Public Service Board today. Matt Kearns, project manager for UPC, would not be specific, but said it does have to do with the company’s plans to build a commercial wind farm in Sheffield and Sutton. “There are some changes,” Kearns said Sunday. “But that’s all I can say. We have to let the Public Service Board know first.”
NEWPORT – Energy developers preparing to petition the Public Service Board for permission to build a 106-watt natural gas-fueled power plant in the Northeast Kingdom already have some agreements with Vermont utilities.
``The problem we're having with all these wind farms is . . . they're proposing to put them in all the worst places," said Thomas W. French , assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. ``If they could do what the Russell Biomass plant did, which is to find a preexisting, historical industrial district, we'd be applauding them." As part of the ongoing state permitting process for the plant, French's division worked with its developers to reroute proposed power lines to reduce their impact on wildlife.