Wind project proposed for Little Equinox Mtn.

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(Host) The Manchester Planning Commission has raised questions about a large-scale wind energy project that’s planned for one of the highest peaks in town. The commission this week voted not to support the project until it learns more details about how it would look on the scenic mountaintop.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The five wind turbines planned for Little Equinox Mountain would be the state’s biggest wind energy project. Each machine spans 330 feet and together they’d generate about nine megawatts of power.

Bob Charlebois is the managing director for Catamount Energy, one of the project developers. He describes the Little Equinox site as ideal, because it’s very windy and there’s already a road and power lines to the top.

(Charlebois) “One of the reasons we chose this site is that it’s unique in Vermont, in that it’s previously hosted two other wind energy projects. So much of the infrastructure is already in place, which means there’ll be very little disturbance to accommodate our project.”

(Dillon) Charlebois wants the wind turbines on line by the end of next year or by early 2004. He plans to file for state approval in the next few months.

But the town of Manchester wants to be involved in the state review process. The town planning commission voted this week to withhold support for the project until it learns more. Commission Chairman Brian Keefe says the commission isn’t against the project.

(Keefe) “I think globally people in Manchester understand the benefits of renewable energy, wind energy, the reduction in acid rain and things like that. But we also have to watch out for our view sheds, our own tourist-based economy and the impact that this will have. And we want to know a little more clearly how will these things look on the mountain.”

(Dillon) Bob Charlebois, the project manager, says he’s hopeful the town will get behind the $12 million project during the state review.

(Charlebois) “We also fully intend to be as responsive as we can be to any questions that the town has. And we think that over time as those questions are answered, the planning board will be satisfied and we will enjoy their full support.”

(Dillon) The planning commission will probably vote again on the project later this year.

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

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