(Host) Vermont Community Wind says it’s scaling back plans on a proposed 80 Megawatt wind farm west of Rutland.
Project developers say they’re eliminating 15 of 60 potential turbine sites, which they hope will appease growing opposition to the project.
VPR’s Nina Keck has more.
(Keck) Jeff Wennberg is community outreach director for Vermont Community Wind, the Charlotte-based company that’s behind the project.
(Wennberg) "The message that we’ve heard everywhere we’ve gone is that the project is just out of scale with the communities themselves and in particular in Ira. But actually we’ve heard the in every community we’ve gone. And so attempting to reflect and respect those community values, we thought it was the right time to make this announcement."
(Keck) Wennberg says 11 of the turbine sites being eliminated run along the Trainer Brook Ridge – 8 in Ira and 3 in Middletown Springs. The remaining four sites are in Tinmouth on the southern end of Susie’s Peak.
(Wennberg) "One of the issues here that was a big issue was this power line that had to run from Susie’s Peak over to Trainer Brook. And that ran right across the valley and across the road in Ira – and that stirred up a lot of concern because it would literally string right across the valley. And by eliminating the Trainer Brook ridge location, that power line is no longer necessary. Also eliminates a couple of access roads and another power line that the landowner had not been willing to sign."
(Keck) Middletown Springs resident Jackie Parker says she and her husband have been repeatedly approached by Vermont Community Wind to sign lease agreements for land they own in Ira and Middletown Springs.
She says they’ve declined and so have most of her neighbors. While she likes the fact that her land is no longer being considered for turbines, she’s still concerned about the overall project. And she says she’s been disappointed by what she considers Vermont Community Wind’s underhanded approach to local land owners.
(Parker "We were turkey hunting this May and one of our partners discovered a device hiked up in the trees with ropes and pullies on our land and further investigating, our adjoining neighbors had one too. And we had never given permission and we know our neighbor didn’t either."
(Keck) What she found was equipment to study bats. Jeff Wennberg admits the company made mistakes and publicly apologized. Ira resident Stan Shapiro says he likes the fact that company officials are listening to local concerns. But he believes the project is still too big. It’s a conudrum, he says, because alternative energy is so important.
(Shapiro) "You know I think many people are having a great deal of angst – because when you go to Solarfest you’re going to see that there’s a lot of schism in the alternative energy community because there are people who say – look, let’s get this done and do it now, without the consequence. But wouldn’t’ it be terrible in 25 years from now and we look up at those ridgelines and go – you know, we knew better or we could have done better and look at what we’re left with."
(Keck) But Shapiro says it’s important that he and others opposing the project work together on an alternative, and he’s hopeful that everyone can do that.
For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck.