MILTON, Vt. – It’s being touted as a locally-owned, locally-financed project that is providing jobs for Vermonters in the renewable energy industry, but some local residents say the Georgia Mountain Wind Project is a blight on the landscape that will threaten local wildlife.
Heavy equipment is clearing trees and widening the access road to make way for the Georgia Mountain Community Wind project. A four turbine, 10 megawatt project which will provide power directly to Burlington Electric Department — enough to power 42 hundred homes.
“The access to the site is going to be from the Milton side — a private road up to the site where two of the towers will be in Milton. Two will be in Georgia,” said Carrie Johnson, Georgia’s Town Administrator.
Johnson says the town has been split over the project — some for, some against.
“I’ve been against it for some time,” said Reggie Johnson, who says he was raised on this land on Georgia Mountain. He is concerned about the impact the four turbines will have on the landscape and on wildlife. “Not that I am against wind turbine power, but up on Georgia Mountain — yes — because it’s quite scenic and it is right in the way of a lot of birds going back and forth,” he said.
Two other opponents to the project recently emailed the Public Service Board, concerned that construction had begun before the PSB gave approval for the project, and that neighbors were not properly informed. The town got a letter from their lawyers Monday.
“It appears they have all their permits necessary to proceed to construction,” Carrie Johnson said.
Martha Staskus is overseeing the wind project and says the company did not have to notify neighbors that construction was about to start. But Carrie Johnson says Georgia Mountain Community Wind is required to post construction updates. “They have to post some things on our notice board just to alert people that this project is moving forward, so they are not shocked when they see trees coming down the road being constructed — which is in Milton of course, but I think once the initial site work is done it will go fairly quickly,” she said.
There is also a message board at the project site entrance. A neighbor told WCAX-TV that the construction update, which was several pages thick, was ripped down, presumably by a project opponent.
Staskus says the 27 million dollar project should be complete by the end of the year, which will make it eligible for section 1603 grants from the federal government which could be in the millions of dollars.
A hotline has been set up for updates on the Georgia Mountain Wind project: (802) 242-1476