Library filed under General from Vermont

Blowing It? While neighboring states move ahead on wind energy, Vermont is spinning its wheels

Across Lake Champlain, many Vermonters are asking the same question. While wind energy sails along at a healthy clip in New York and much of New England, in Vermont it's been as flaccid as a limp windsock. Currently, all of Vermont's grid-scale wind power - a meager 6 megawatts total - comes from 11 turbines in Searsburg, in southern Vermont. A 16-turbine project in Sheffield is due to break ground later this year, but that is by no means a done deal. If it does move forward, the modest project would increase Vermont's wind energy output fivefold. That's still a pittance compared to Vermont's neighbors.
5 Jun 2008

Wind power a boon for Readsboro, Searsburg

Seventeen new wind turbines proposed on Green Mountain State Forest Land by Deerfield Wind, LLC, could generate over $3 million for the town over the next 20 years, according to Richard Saudek, attorney for both Readsboro and Searsburg in the matter. The contract was shared with residents at a meeting Tuesday. Instead of taxes, the town will benefit from the success of the wind farm or receive a minimum of $154,000 annually. ...Saudek said he has never shared a contract like this with the public before but came away with some questions. Concerns of citizens included when the payments would come in, if the town would receive money during the construction phase, what happens if the owners default on payment and how market fluctuations would affect the contract.
4 Jun 2008

News from the world of wind

Here at home, the Vermont Supreme Court heard arguments about the only new wind project in Vermont with permits from the Public Service Board. The company, recently renamed FirstWind, won permission to erect 16 turbines on a ridgeline in Sheffield. The permit was appealed by local opponents organized as Ridge Protectors. As far as I can tell from an internet search, only the Barton Chronicle covered the session. ...The Chronicle story quotes Justice Reiber as asking the attorneys, "How could they measure economic benefit without the contracts?" Of course it takes two to tango, so who knows whether it's First Wind or the Vermont utilities that are reluctant to reach a power-sale deal. No telling when the Supreme Court will decide the appeal, but First Wind said recently it doesn't expect to start putting up the turbines (assuming the permit stands) this year.
28 May 2008

Is wind a good deal for Vermonters?

The last challenge facing the Sheffield wind project may well come down to of the most hallowed principles in a regulated marketplace. Is the public getting a good deal? That question was front and center at a hearing last week before the state Supreme Court. ln fact, it's a question that has dogged the project ever since it was proposed by UPC Wind in February 2006. The case has landed in the Supreme Court because opponents, a citizens' group organized as the Ridge Protectors, believe the public good is not being well served by the project. And they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Their attorney, Daniel Hershenson, argued before the high court last Thursday, May 15, that a decision allowing the project to go forward should be overturned.
21 May 2008

Giant wind turbines begin to turn in New York

Blades have begun to turn on 121 wind turbines here and in neighboring Ellenburg, a 35-minute drive northwest of Plattsburgh. Saturday, they turned with a soft whush, whush, whush. "Whush, whush, whush, all day long, all night long - I moved here because it was so peaceful and quiet," groused Allen Barcombe as he pointed to the nearest tower, jutting up 400 feet into the sky behind his house. ...The New York turbines, in two projects developed by Noble Environmental Power, are the first of nearly 400 expected to go up in five towns on a windy plateau just south of the Canadian border. When completed, the development about 90 minutes from Burlington will represent the largest concentration of wind turbines in the eastern United States.
7 May 2008

Protect the national forests

I read last week's article "Forest Service buys Handle Road parcel" with trepidation. It is important to realize that the United States Forest Service no longer protects forest lands, even national forests, from development. Their 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement for Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest identifies 37 sites, for a total of 19,700 acres, as "potentially both viable and suitable" for wind power development. As quoted in their report on Page 3-298 ...
4 Apr 2008

RELEASE: Wind turbines planned for Green Mountain National Forest

In what could be a national precedent, the Vermont Public Service Board is reviewing a plan to build 17 industrial wind turbines on more than 80 acres of the Green Mountain National Forest. Known as Deerfield Wind, the turbine project would be located along a prominent ridgeline in the towns of Searsburg and Readsboro, Vermont. ...Deerfield Wind would be the first industrial wind-energy facility in a national forest anywhere in the country ...The Green Mountain National Forest is one of only two national forests in New England. The U.S. Forest Service has designated nearly 20,000 acres at 37 sites within the Green Mountain National Forest as "potentially both viable and suitable" for wind power development. Recently, a proposal for a second industrial wind-energy facility within the Green Mountain National Forest was initiated.
28 Mar 2008

Legislators urge Lowell-area residents to demand wind public hearings

State Sen. Bobby Starr on Monday urged residents in the Lowell area to demand a hearing on proposed new wind measuring towers for the Lowell Mountain range. The residents in Lowell don't have deep pockets to fight a wind turbine project, said Starr, D-Essex-Orleans. He spoke at a legislative breakfast at the Eastside Restaurant after a question from Lowell resident and wind turbine opponent Don Nelson. Residents need to immediately push for public hearings from the Vermont Public Service Board, Starr said. They also should ask regulators to have the existing towers taken down first before discussing new ones, he said. ...Starr said big wind turbines provide an unpredictable and unreliable form of green energy that will hurt Vermont's image. "We can't log mountain tops, but they can blow the tops off our mountains," Starr said. Starr said he has seen the wind turbine developments in upstate New York and said they will not attract tourists to Vermont.
19 Feb 2008

Petitioned articles top Searsburg's agenda

[A]rticle 15, asks voters to give the selectboard limited authority to negotiate contracts. Under the limited authority, any contract would have to be ratified by voters. Sage says the board is required to obtain voters' permission, under Vermont statutes, to negotiate with the developers of the Deerfield Wind Project. ...Another article related to the wind turbine project, article 16, was petitioned by Gerry DeGray. The article asks Town Meeting voters to "determine whether the voters approve of, or are opposed to, the proposed Deerfield Wind Project." Last summer, the town voted in a nonbinding straw vote to oppose the project.
15 Feb 2008

Why let PPM destroy Searsburg ridgelines

Far from being "environmentally friendly," the proposed project would effectively destroy one of the largest, if not the largest, bear habitats in Vermont. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources stated in recent testimony that the project "would result in significant adverse impacts to black bear habitat" and would "cause long-term harm to the bear population in southern Vermont." The Vermont Natural Resources Council has stated that the wildlife habitat in the western project area could not be mitigated. In other words, once destroyed, that habitat cannot be repaired or replaced.
7 Feb 2008

UPC Wind moves ahead with Sheffield Wind plans

UPC Wind plans to continue with its construction schedule for a wind farm in Sheffield, even though Ridge Protectors, a citizens group opposed to commercial wind on Vermont's rural ridgelines, has filed an appeal of the Vermont Public Service Board's decision with the Vermont Supreme Court. "We think the Public Service Board's decision will stand the test of time," said Matt Kearns of UPC, project manager for Sheffield, on Friday. The Supreme Court could overturn the PSB's decision, if it decides to hear the case. Kearns said UPC has faith that won't happen. ...Ridge Protectors suit, filed by attorneys Dan Hershenson of Norwich and Anthony Roisman of Lyme, N.H., argues that the wind farm will not have a substantial economic benefit to Vermonters, largely because it doesn't have stable power contracts. Kearns said UPC expects those to be in place this winter.
2 Feb 2008

Ridge Protectors appeals to Vermont Supreme Court

Ridge Protectors has filed a Vermont Supreme Court appeal of the Vermont Public Service Board's decision to approve a wind farm in Sheffield. The appeal comes as no surprise. Ridge Protectors, a citizens' group opposed to big wind turbines on Vermont's rural ridge lines, has tenaciously battled the project and announced its intent to file an appeal last fall. UPC Wind, based in Massachusetts, wants to put up 16 420-foot commercial turbines on Sheffield's ridge lines. In August, the PSB issued a certificate of public good for the project, along with 32 conditions to be met, saying that the economic benefits of the 40-megawatt generating project outweighed its adverse affects. Ridge Protectors' appeal, filed late Monday, asserts that the PSB actually did not demonstrate that the project will result in an economic benefit to the state and its residents, a serious legal deficiency in its decision, lawyers claim.
30 Jan 2008

Barton selectmen to hear proposal to ban wind farms

The Barton Planning Commission has held hearings on both its revised town plan and a petition, signed by more than 200 of Barton's 2,500 residents, asking that the plan specifically prohibit commercial and industrial wind. At the latest hearing, about 25 people showed up and watched a slide show produced by JoAnn Stefanski, who has been instrumental in launching the petition drive and fighting the possible introduction of commercial wind in Barton Barton's petition is in response to UPC Wind's intention to put up 16 wind turbines in Sheffield, a plan the Vermont Public Service Board has approved, and one that a slim majority of Sheffield voters said they supported at a special town meeting two years ago. A big and vocal minority continues to oppose the project and will file a Vermont Supreme Court appeal of the PSB decision next week. Meanwhile, they have asked for a halt to construction, saying that UPC Wind has failed to meet some of the 32 conditions that the PSB has imposed on the project.
26 Jan 2008

Data gathering begins on Grandpa's Knob

Noble Environmental Power is seeing which way the wind blows - and how hard. The company put up the first of two meteorological towers in West Rutland last week, and project manager Brad King said the second is scheduled to go up in Hubbardton today. The towers are taking measurements as part of the Connecticut-based company's plan to put a wind farm on the Grandpa's Knob ridge line. King said not to go out looking for windmills, as the towers are very tall but have very thin poles.
25 Jan 2008

My Turn: Being green is hot -- but beware the zeal to capture a perceived new market advantage, Vermont businesses need to be careful. In this evolving green marketplace lies legal risk, along with the potential to harm Vermont's green brand that has served the state so well. Many consumers have become informed about green claims such as recycled, biodegradable, natural and organic. Recently, the call for action to address global warming has led manufacturers and service providers to add new terms to their marketing, such as "carbon neutral" and "carbon offsets." Considering existing law and the potential for new regulatory oversight, it is essential for Vermont businesses that currently rely on and harness Vermont's green brand to ensure that the green claims made by them and others are accurate and supportable. Moreover, any business considering simply hopping on to the "green" marketing bandwagon should recognize that doing so has some considerable risks.
20 Jan 2008

My Turn: VPIRG has become a special-interest advocate

But in recent years VPIRG has been, in reality, little more than a lobbying enterprise for special interests which, in large measure, fund it -- primarily corporate wind power and alternative energy interests. Ironically, these are heavily taxpayer-subsidized corporate projects of the type public interest groups used to advocate against. In this role, VPIRG appears to have the Democratic Party firmly under its thumb. It comes, then, as no surprise that that party's agenda is tightly linked, not to the most pressing concerns of the people of Vermont, but to the personal agendas of VPIRG's board of directors. ...For instance, David Bittersdorf and Mathew Rubin, two men with active wind power enterprises in Vermont, are trustees of VPIRG, as is Dave Rapaport, who worked for five years for Mathew Rubin's East Mountain Wind Tower Co. Trustee Leigh Seddon founded Solar Works Inc., a renewable-energy design and contracting firm. VPIRG's five registered lobbyists work the state Legislature tirelessly for more taxpayer funding for renewable energy.
19 Jan 2008

Faced with opposition, Manchester wind plan stalls

It has been almost two years since voters at Town Meeting directed the Select Board to oppose a wind project planned for Little Equinox with up to $150,000 after a contentious discussion. As this year's Town Meeting approaches, the proposal seems to have dropped from the radar of both the proponent and the town directed to stop it. Endless Energy, a Yarmouth, Maine-based company, had proposed to build five 390-foot wind turbines on Little Equinox to generate 30 million kilowatt-hours a year that would be sold to the Burlington Electric Department. ...On the municipal side, the money voters set aside to oppose the project is no longer being held in reserve and has been added to an allocated surplus fund, according to Manchester Town Manager John O'Keefe.
17 Jan 2008

Wind project takes first step

A proposed wind farm on Grandpa's Knob cleared its first state hurdle last week. The Public Service Board issued a certificate of public good for a pair of meteorological towers that will test the wind levels atop the Grandpa's Knob ridgeline. The towers, described in the finding as up to 197 feet tall and 8 to 10 inches thick, are set to land on sites in Castleton and Hubbardton. Testing could last up to five years, according to the board's findings. ...Public reaction to the proposal is muted. None of the select boards from the involved towns sent in an official response, through Pittsford passed along correspondents from residents before its portion of the request was withdrawn.
19 Dec 2007
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