UPC Vermont Wind is cutting back on the number of turbines proposed for Sheffield and Sutton, dropping the number from 26 to 16.
“We’re eliminating Hardscrabble Mountain,” UPC project manager Matt Kearns said Monday. “We asked for people’s input and we got it. Hardscrabble jumped out.”
The change means no turbines will be seen from King George School. Nor will there be any truck traffic through the campus.
Head of School Karen Fitzhugh has testified at public meetings that the private school would have to close if the project as first proposed went through. She said students at the school have emotional problems that would only be worsened by the effects of the spinning blades and flickering they would cause.
UPC filed these changes with the Public Service Board Monday in response to testimony received from opponents and state agencies. The new plan proposes 14 turbines in Sheffield and two on Norris Mountain in Sutton. Six turbines had been planned for Sutton. The reduced number will mean a maximum output of 40 megawatts instead of 52 megawatts.
“We took the comments of the public and the state very seriously,” Kearns stated in a press release. “We’ve reduced the overall size while still managing to generate enough electricity to power all of Caledonia County. What we have here is truly a Vermont scale wind farm.”
The proposed turbines will have blades about 22 feet longer than those earlier planned, but by changing the location, UPC claims fewer people will see them. The project is no longer visible from Berry Hill Road or the Miller’s Run School. The removal of the Hardscrabble turbines reduces the number of turbines visible from Interstate 91 and Crystal Lake. Under the new plan, they will no longer be seen from Danville, Kirby, St. Johnsbury or Walden, the release states.
The transportation plan has also been revised. Trucks bringing in equipment will leave I-91 at Exit 25, traveling through Barton on the New Duck Pond Road. Berry Hill, Dareios and Hardscrabble roads will not be used. Fewer new roads will be built, reducing the impact on wetlands and bear habitat.
Fewer turbines mean fewer lights. There will be eight blinking lights under the new plan, opposed to the original 15, according to the release.
In February, UPC filed a petition with the PSB to erect 20 398-foot wind turbines in Sheffield and another six similar turbines in neighboring Sutton. All parties were required to state their case in written testimony by July 24.
The Vermont Department of Public Service responded by saying it could not support the project as proposed. The project was not consistent with the regional plan, would have a negative impact on the King George School and Crystal Lake State Park, according to testimony filed by Robert Ide, director for energy efficiency for the DPS.
Sutton residents opposed the original plan and expressed that opposition in a nonbinding vote at town meeting in March. The town had hired Norwich attorney Daniel Hershenson to fight the project but ran out of money this month.
Sheffield and UPC have worked out an agreement whereby the town will receive payments of between $400,000 and $550,000 a year if the project is completed. Kearns said Monday this agreement still stands, although the amounts might be slightly reduced.
“We reduced the number of turbines, but they are bigger,” Kearns said. Sheffield will be hosting 35 megawatts, he said.
By Jeanne Miles, Staff Writer
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