Administration drafts policy for wind projects on state land

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(Host) The Douglas administration has issued a draft policy that prohibits large scale wind development on state land. The proposal does allow smaller projects if the energy is going to be used on-site and is not intended for commercial use.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The state owns roughly 350,000 acres of land and the draft report concludes that only one percent of this property would be suitable for large scale commercial wind development. Generally these lands are undeveloped ridgelines that are between 2,500 and 3,300 feet in height, where the wind blows on average at 25 miles per hour.

After taking testimony at public hearings around the state this winter, the Department of Forest and Parks decided that this is not the time to open up state land for big commercial wind projects; these are defined as projects where the wind turbines are often 300 feet tall. Jonathon Wood is the commissioner of Forest and Parks:

(Wood) “We’re real certain that the majority of people really treasure that small one percent of high elevation land that’s been kind of controlled and purchased and managed over the years for our protection of natural resources. It wasn’t appropriate for that small subsection of public land. There was a broad support for energy development but not on those specific lands.”

(Kinzel) The draft report does allow the development of small scale wind projects on state land. Governor Jim Douglas says it makes sense for the state and private businesses to consider projects that could be built to provide energy on site:

(Douglas) “Ski areas that might choose to generate their own power through wind on their lands for use at the area’s state parks. I think we’ll be exploring the possibility of smaller scale wind generation for electricity on the state park facilities. So I think there’s a real potential for wind development at an appropriate scale on state property.”

(Kinzel) The administration hopes to issue a final wind policy for state land in about two months.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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