WILMINGTON – Voters told the Selectboard Wednesday that they wish it to oppose the proposed wind turbine project for Searsburg and Readsboro.
More than 60 voters met in Twin Valley High School’s cafeteria Wednesday night to make their voices heard on the subject, which has been an ongoing controversial topic here.
They voted 51 to 15 to oppose it, beginning with a written testimony due Dec. 21 and culminating with hearings in April 2008 before the Public Service Board.
The project is looking to install about 17 turbines, each about 410 ft high, covering 80 acres of U.S. Forest Service land. Selectboard Chairman Rob Wheeler said. The town has been granted intervener status, but needed to decide what they wanted to say.
The reasons for the opposition, according to some of those who spoke up at the hearing, are numerous.
One Wilmington voter, Cliff Duncan, talked about the size of the wind turbines: “It’s not a farm, these are huge, huge devices.”
He also mentioned the need to aid Searsburg, which he said was “too poor to oppose it.”
“Forty percent voted not to have it in their town,” Duncan said. “I would hope that they would do the same if 40 percent of our town voted not to have it here.”
Most speakers qualified their opposition by pointing out that they are against this particular project, not wind turbines or alternative energy in general.
One issue has been that bear-clawed trees and beech trees have been spotted in the area, suggesting that it is a bear habitat.
The voters also approved up to $40,000 from the general fund to be used to hire a lawyer to represent the town’s interests to the PSB.
But voters still walked away unhappy after Wheeler reminded them that this was an advisory vote and the board would hold the right to change its mind if new information was brought forward.
“Things may evolve and change,” he said. “The Selectboard needs to be able to act in the best interests of the town.”
These changes are not out of the realm of possibility. One reason some people opposed the project was the need for red blinking lights on the top of the turbines to warn low-flying airplanes.
Rob Roy Macgregor of Fair Wind Vermont, who spoke at a recent public information session in Wilmington, said the federal government might “only require flashing red lights at each end of the two arrays, and on the highest turbines, which might be as few as six red lights. This would be a minimal impact on the night-time view.”
Also, Planning Commission Chairman Joseph Cincotta has begun speaking with some of the project representatives about the potential for a discount for energy – he suggests 10 percent – for any towns within site of the turbines.
Voters agreed unanimously, though, that if the board finds it necessary to change the town’s stance on the issue, it should bring it to the town first.
“We’re not saying we don’t trust you,” resident Michelle Maynard said. “We’re just saying if something changes, let us know.”
By Nicole Orne
14 December 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding