Library from Vermont
(Editor’s note: VTDigger founder Anne Galloway writes about the heated debate over the proposed Stiles Brook Wind Project.)
Voters in Windham and Grafton will weigh in Tuesday on a 24-turbine wind project. Next Tuesday’s vote in Windham on a proposed wind project has become so controversial that the town plans to videotape the whole process — from voter check-in to ballot counting — in hopes of quelling concerns about fairness.
The coming vote in the small Windham County towns of Windham and Grafton about the placement of wind turbines in their towns ought to concern all Vermonters interested in the integrity of democracy and the continuing development of renewable energy. Till now, wind energy has had an important place in the mix of renewable energy sources in Vermont, but the tactics of the wind developer in Windham County have poisoned the cause.
New standards on large scale wind projects in Vermont will give towns a voice in where they are built, but opting out entirely won't be an option.
An economic committee in Grafton has analyzed supposed benefits of the Stiles Brook Wind Project and concluded that many residents will see no tax benefits, but ones that do typically have properties assessed at $300,000 or above.
Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says he’s “greatly concerned” about a turbine developer’s monetary offer to registered voters in Windham and Grafton. Though the Vermont Attorney General’s office has said Iberdrola Renewables’ proposed “direct partnership payments” don’t violate election law, Condos asserts that the developer is “pushing the envelope in an attempt to influence the vote.”
Developers are demanding that residents who want a say in the Public Service Board hearings on the Swanton Wind Project be given two weeks to decide whether they will participate.
Windham Town Treasurer Peter Chamberlain has told the Windham Select Board that while Iberdrola’s latest offer, presented on Oct. 4, totals $1 million, most of it will not be available for the town to decide how to use.
Hutchins said studies conducted on bird collisions with aircraft provide insight to wind energy projects. What they find is that birds can see objects coming at them, but they don’t get the same chance to react with turbine blades turning during high winds at up to 175 miles per hour.
In the latest VPR poll, 67 percent say they “somewhat” or “completely” trust the Public Service Board, a three-member panel that issues state permits for energy projects. But in a second poll question, only 12 percent say the PSB should have the final say on where wind power generators are placed.
A wind-energy company is so desperate for federal subsidies, it will give part of them to citizens. ...Earlier this month, Spanish energy company Iberdrola announced that it plans to distribute about $565,000 per year among 815 registered voters in the two towns. The payments would continue for 25 years.
NEVER FOR OR AGAINST’: State Sen. David Zuckerman, the Vermont Democratic Party nominee for lieutenant governor, told residents living near the Rocky Ridge Wind Project that he hasn’t made up his mind about it.
At its meeting on Oct. 13, the Planning Commission continued its work developing a map to indicate areas within the town requiring more extensive impact evaluation prior to the establishment of solar or wind energy facilities. This was in response to a request by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission for a map that will be included, perhaps with modifications, in a countywide renewable energy siting plan to be submitted to the Vermont Public Service Board.
The debate over siting renewable energy projects has become one of the major policy contrasts between the gubernatorial candidates. The Republican candidate, Phil Scott, says he would stop ridgeline wind development, and he wants to give towns more say over where turbines are built.
Residents living near the Deerfield Wind project site off Route 8 are bracing for construction-related blasting, which is scheduled to begin this week.
A hearing officer for the Public Service Board has recommended that Green Mountain Community Wind — the company led by Vermont renewable-energy pioneer David Blittersdorf — be found in violation of its permit for operating wind turbines on Georgia Mountain with iced blades. ...The iced blades produced unusually loud noise, said Melodie McLane.
Dairy Air Wind has filed an application for a certificate of public good to raise a wind measurement tower on a dairy farm on School Road.
Once it was just another cabin on a Vermont hillside. Now it’s an emblem in the debate over noise from the growing wind energy industry.
Facing the possibility that voters here may reject the proposal, putting a damper on large-scale wind development in Vermont, Iberdrola last week put cash on the table for individual voters. Many residents called the offer an attempt at undue influence, if not an outright bribe.
On Monday evening, the Holland Select Board stated that the board will site safety, health issues, aesthetics and property values when challenging the “met” tower application. Others are concerned about ice throw from the blades of the wind turbine, which would be located not far from School Road.