Noble Environmental Power of Essex, Conn., has begun talks with landowners along a ridge in Rutland County, the first step in what could become a 25-tower, 50-megawatt wind energy project that would be the largest wind farm proposed in Vermont.
“We are certainly interested in Grandpas Knob, but it is very preliminary,” Brian Kelly, the company’s Northeast development director, confirmed Wednesday. He said the company might apply soon for permits to put up wind-measuring towers.
Grandpas Knob is a 2,000-foot bump northwest of Rutland City, on the border between Castleton and West Rutland. Fifty-six years ago, engineers put up the nation’s first big wind turbine there. The experiment ran off and on from 1941 to 1945, when one of the turbine’s 75-foot blades snapped off.
Kelly said indications are the wind blows hard enough over the ridge to generate 50 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power more than 15,000 homes.
Noble Environmental outlined its preliminary plans for the Rutland Regional Economic Development Corp. in January, has met with legislators and briefed the state Department of Public Service.
“We’re acquiring land, talking to civic leaders and local organizations to get a feel for what the local community thinks about this idea,” said John Zimmerman of Vermont Environmental Research Associates, a Waterbury company working with Noble Environmental.
But the developer’s interest came as news Wednesday to some local officials.
“I haven’t heard a word about it. It must be pretty hush-hush,” said Thomas Ettori, chairman of the Castleton Selectboard.
Kelley and Zimmerman emphasized that their investigation is in the early stages, and Noble has made no commitment to the Vermont project.
Noble’s plans have surfaced at a key moment for wind development in Vermont. After rejecting a four-turbine project in East Haven last year – the first to be proposed in Vermont in a decade – the Public Service Board is holding hearings this week on a 16-turbine wind farm proposed for Sheffield, a little town north of St. Johnsbury.
A third company filed a permit application in early January for 15 to 24 turbines in Readsboro near the Massachusetts border.
According to its Web site, Noble is developing a number of wind farms in northern and western New York, including proposals for three projects and 173 turbines in the Ellenburg area north of Plattsburgh. Together, the three installations would produce nearly 300 megawatts of power.
Of the potential Grandpas Knob project, Kelly said, “It may be big for Vermont, but it’s a smallish one in the world of wind power.”
By Candace Page
Free Press Staff Writer
Contact Candace Page at 660-1865 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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