(Host) Developers won’t build a controversial wind farm that had been planned on a ridgeline in Ira.
Vermont Community Wind was considering 45 potential turbine sites for an 80-megawatt wind farm.
VPR’s Nina Keck reports.
(Keck) Vermont Community Wind says it’s not entirely giving up on the project. But Jeff Wennberg says the company no longer feels it can win the permits it needs to go ahead.
(Wennberg) "There’s just so much money that is required to pursue a project like this. There needs to be some reasonable level of certainty that if certain requirements are met, that the project will be allowed to proceed and at this point we don’t even know what those requirements are in many cases."
(Keck) He says several issues drove the decision. Ira recently made clear through its town report that it doesn’t support wind turbines at high elevations.
The state Natural Resources Agency also raised new environmental questions, including what effect the turbines would have on wildlife habitat along the ridgelines.
Opponents argued the towers would destroy the town’s pristine landscape. Jackie Parker, who owns land in Ira and nearby Middletown Springs, is relieved to hear the project is on hold.
(Parker) "There’s a lot of us who are in favor of wind and solar and a lot of kinds of alternative energy when they’re done appropriately. But you’re talking about an industrial scale wind farm. It’s such a big project for such small towns and I think it would ruin a lot of the appeal that all these Vermont mountains have."
(Keck) Vermont Community Wind’s Jeff Wennberg says stopping now is frustrating. Since 1997 when the 6 megawatt Searsburg wind farm went on line, he says no other wind commercial turbines have been installed in the state. Over those same 13 years, Wennberg says, New England, New York, Pennsylvania and Quebec together have put over 2,600 megawatts of wind power on the grid.
(Wennberg) "Vermont seems to say all the right things in terms of incentives and general state policy – Ira said all the right things in the town plan initially but when you actually get to proposing specific projects – it’s clear that the words and the reality of what is possible to do in Vermont is very, very different. And that’s very disappointing."
(Keck) Wennberg says Vermont Community Wind plans to retain its leases for the land in case it decides to try to build the project some time in the future.
For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck