The company looking to expand the wind power facility in Searsburg has specified its intentions of building 17 wind turbines on the hills of Searsburg and Readsboro.
Fewer, larger towers
The original proposal, which was sent to the Public Service Board in January, called for 20 to 30 turbines that have an electrical range of 1.5 to 2.0 megawatts each and will stand from 340 to 370 feet in the air. The application was returned to the company asking for specifics in July.
The resubmitted application from Deerfield Wind LCC, calls for 17 total wind turbines, seven in Searsburg and 10 in Readsboro, to stand 400 to 410 feet tall. Each turbine would produce 2.0 or 2.1 megawatts, making the total capacity 34 to 35.7 megawatts.
The proposed turbines will be on Green Mountain Forest land near the existing wind farm.
The proposed project needs to obtain a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board. The updated information is currently going through the permitting process that includes public participation. A public hearing was held last Tuesday in Readsboro and people have until the end of March to write letters for or against the project, said Dina Franco of the Public Service Board. Then two official hearings will take place before the board makes the final decision.
According to Teddy Hopkins, chairman of the Readsboro Select Board, two Readsboro Select Board members, himself and Charlotte Clark, spoke in favor of the project and some people from Searsburg spoke against it.
“The majority of people from Searsburg spoke against it,” said Hopkins. “I think people need to get rid of the ‘not in my back yard’ attitude. It’s time we put up with a few negatives for the greater good.”
Hopkins said that the turbines will provide clean energy which would help to end reliance on foreign oil. Hopkins said that he felt the people who spoke against it were doing it because of asthetic concerns, which includes flashing lights that are required on the proposed turbines.
Gerald DeGray, of Searsburg, said that between eight to 10 people spoke at the hearing. The Readsboro Select Board members were the only proponents of the turbines, he said.
“We don’t believe it’s a responsible location,” said DeGray. “Noise is going to be a big issue.”
DeGray said that his concerns are focused on the noise levels, health issues and the location. The location, he said, will be within a mile of 50 homes and the turbines create a lot of noise. This noise could be the cause of ill effects from lack of sleep and low frequency sounds that are released could cause other significant health problems. DeGray said that he has a list of other concerns about the project.
“There is a lot of concern here in Searsburg,” said DeGray.
Readsboro voters approved the project in 2006 and Searsburg voters turned it down this May.
Now that the public hearing is complete, involved parties will submit formal testimony in April, according to Franco, and a series of official hearings with the Public Service Board will be held. The testimony and letters from concerned citizens will direct the board’s questioning.
“It’s days of hearings before the board. It’s like the equivalent of a trail in a civil court,” said Franco. “Basically this will be going on into June next year.”
By Andy McKeever
8 October 2007
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