The day after the Nov. 7 election, residents of Sutton will be asked to participate in another vote.
Members of this Northeast Kingdom community will be asked to decide whether the town should continue to pay a lawyer to oppose the UPC Wind project proposed for the mountains around their town.
Residents should vote yes.
If the little town of Sutton is expected to go head-to-head with a large wind power company before the Public Service Board, it will need legal representation. Unfortunately, that’s the way the state’s Section 248 process works. Towns, groups and individuals who oppose a wind development need lawyers and expert witnesses to be in the game. It can cost thousands of dollars to have a voice before the Public Service Board.
UPC Wind is seeking permission from the PSB to build 16 turbines in Sheffield and Sutton. The Massachusetts company has reduced the number of turbines from its originally proposed 26, but has increased the turbines’ height to 420 feet from 399. These turbines are wrong for the ridgelines in this beautiful area of Vermont.
Sheffield and Sutton have been divided over the project. Sheffield voters narrowly supported the project, and Sutton voters opposed it at March’s town meeting. In response to that vote, the Sutton Selectboard retained a lawyer whose fees have been partially paid by the town and residents’ donations. The lawyer has agreed to cap future fees to see the town through the PSB process.
The Selectboard is calling for $25,000 each year for two years in increased taxes. For a resident paying $2,000 in property taxes, it would mean an additional $40 a year for two years, residents say. This is not easy. But if Sutton residents are worried about the long-term economic impact of a wind generating utility on their ridgelines – as they should be – they need to invest today in their case before the Public Service Board.
WIND MEETINGS Sutton vote on legal fees: 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Sutton school.
Public Service Board meeting: 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Millers-Run School in Sheffield.
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