VT develops wind tower policy

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(Host) State environmental officials will ask the public whether wind towers should be built on state land.

The state has a moratorium on wind energy development on publicly owned property. But that may change as the state develops a policy that will govern how its ridgelines can be used for wind towers.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Host) Wind energy developers have already set their sights on state-owned mountain tops. But some Northeast Kingdom residents got upset last year when they learned a private company wanted to put a wind measurement tower on a mountain in Victory State Forest. They contacted the state, and officials at the Forest and Parks Department ruled that state land was off limits for now.

Now the state wants to end the moratorium and come up with a policy that guides wind energy development. Michael Fraysier is state lands director for the Department of Forest and Parks.

(Fraysier) We hope to complete our public involvement process, hear from folks who are interested, stakeholders, and develop some policy that is appropriate for the agency by mid to late winter.

(Dillon) The state owns about 34,000 acres, and much of it is unsuitable for wind energy projects. Developers are looking for elevations between 2,500 and 3,500 feet on ridgelines that are oriented north to south so they can catch the prevailing breeze.

Fraysier says the bulk of upper elevation state land is protected through conservation easements or other legal restrictions that prohibit development.

But some of the land may be suitable for wind towers.

(Fraysier) So when we’re really looking at it, it’s a small subset of Vermont’s lands that may be suitable for wind energy development where such type of use isn’t legally restricted.

(Dillon) As the state develops its policy, it wants to hire a contractor to conduct a public outreach campaign. The contractor will help put together meetings and focus groups to gauge public opinion on wind energy development.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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