A wind developer trying to build a project in the Northeast Kingdom will remove the final two turbines slated for the town of Sutton and add them to the portion of the project in nearby Sheffield.
The changes to the project, which had already been reduced in size, will not lower its overall power production, said Matthew Kearns, UPC Vermont’s wind project manager.
But it may remove some objections by residents of Sutton, who voted against supporting the project last March and voted in November to spend $50,000 to fight it. Sheffield has shown more support for the project, although some in that town also oppose it.
UPC reduced the size of the proposed project from 26 turbines to 16 last fall, and reduced the number of wind turbines in Sutton to two. The new proposed changes filed with regulators Tuesday would eliminate those two 420-foot turbines and add them to the turbines slated for Sheffield.
That is possible because of a new agreement with a private landowner in Sheffield giving the company the right to install turbines there, Kearns said. Because that change will also mean fewer roads will have to be built, the change is a net wash financially, he added.
It will also mean less clearing and less impact on wetlands, he said.
“We are answering the call from the Department of Public Service to make this adjustment,” Kearns said. “We also heard resistance from Sutton and we wanted to be as responsive as we can be.”
“The result is a more compact site, fewer roads and fewer impacts on natural resources,” Kearns said.
If approved by the Public Service Board, the project will still have the capacity to produce about 40 megawatts of electricity. That will mean the 16 2.5 megawatt turbines will make about 111,900 megawatt-hours of power, or enough for about 15,000 homes.
“We would have liked to have a larger project here,” Kearns said. The project originally would have had a capacity of about 52 megawatts.
David O’Brien, commissioner of public safety, said the changes were in response to “concerns raised by the department on the case.”
“I think that change is certainly positive from the point of view of the town of Sutton,” he said. “You ideally want to find a situation where there is community support.”
At least two Vermont utilities, Washington Electric Cooperative and Vermont Electric Cooperative, are in talks or have agreements to buy power from the site if approved.
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