Wind energy developers moving quickly with VT projects

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(Host) Wind energy developers are moving quickly with several projects in Vermont.

A Montpelier company today formally filed for state approval for a project on East Mountain in the Northeast Kingdom.

And an organization that represents the state’s municipal utilities says it’s looking at six potential sites to develop wind-driven power plants.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The Vermont Public Power Supply Authority represents 14 consumer-owned utilities, from Readsboro to Enosburg Falls. The authority buys and sells electricity, and now it’s looking at getting into the wind business.

Brian Evans-Mongeon manages power supply for the organization, and has led the effort to develop wind projects in Lowell and Kirby in the Northeast Kingdom.

Evans-Mongeon says the authority recently added four more potential sites to its list.

(Evans-Mongeon) There’s a location in southern Vermont, there’s a couple of locations in central Vermont and there’s another one that’s located in the northwest part of Vermont.

(Dillon) Evans-Mongeon won’t provide more details, or name the towns that would host the wind projects. He says he’s trying to negotiate contracts with private landowners to place wind-measuring equipment on their property.

(Evans-Mongeon) Frankly at this point in time while the negotiations are going on it just isn’t prudent for us to announce locations until we have agreements that allow us to move forward.

(Dillon) Meanwhile, a Montpelier developer has asked state regulators for permission to build four wind turbines in East Haven.

David Rappaport, vice president of East Haven wind farm, says the project would produce enough electricity for about 3,000 homes. The four, 330-foot wind towers would be on an old radar base on East Mountain. It’s the first phase of a 50 turbine project that would extend to nearby mountain ridges.

Opponents are worried that wind energy will harm property values and tourism. Rappaport says the smaller, East Haven project will show the fears are groundless.

(Rappaport) Our intent with this project is that it serves as a demonstration, allowing Vermonters to see what the wind turbines look like and to judge for themselves what kind of aesthetic impact they have, to judge for themselves whether they’re having an adverse impact on tourism or property values.

(Dillon) Katie Anderson of Westmore is against the proposal. She says the developer should have waited until the state comes up with a policy to guide wind energy projects.

(Anderson) Because right now there are projects being considered in other areas besides the Northeast Kingdom, and I think the debate and the conversation needs to be opened up to a statewide conversation…People have the right to decide or the right to weigh in on whether they want to see 330 foot wind turbines with red blinking lights on their ridgelines.

(Dillon) The East Haven Windfarm wants the state review completed next spring, so it can get the project on line next fall.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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