The developer of what could be Vermont’s largest wind project says a proposed moratorium on ridgeline wind could dampen investment in renewable energy.
Wind opponents, led by Caledonia Republican Senator Joe Benning, are pushing for a three year moratorium.
If the legislation passes, it could affect a project under consideration for Caledonia and Essex counties. Jack Kenworthy is the manager of Seneca Mountain Wind, which is looking at a 40 turbine project spread over three towns in the remote region. Kenworthy says a moratorium could send the wrong message to investors.
"We would share the view with a number of others that feel that a moratorium is unnecessary," he says. "It certainly sends a clear signal to investors in clean energy in Vermont that it’s not a safe and reasonable place to make those investments. And I think it would serve to certainly stifle those investments."
Benning, the Caledonia senator, says the Northeast Kingdom is being targeted by wind developers. He says a time-out is needed so the state can study the cost and the environmental impact of the projects.
"The Northeast Kingdom does not need to be the pinwheel cushion for the rest of the state of Vermont just because some politicians have decided industrial strength wind is the way to go," he says.
Benning says the wind moratorium has bi-partisan support in the Senate. But it’s likely to face strong opposition in the House, where Speaker Shap Smith has said he’s opposed to the idea.