March 22, 2011

Albany, Craftsbury oppose Lowell wind project

Free Press Staff Report, Burlington Free Press, 22 March 2011

Selectboards in the towns of Albany and Craftsbury announced their opposition Monday to a wind project in Lowell – a development supported by voters in that town and with stated backing from Gov. Peter Shumlin.

The project in question is Kingdom Community Wind, a plan to construct 21 wind turbines that would stand more than 400 feet tall atop Lowell Mountain in the state’s Northeast Kingdom. Green Mountain Power has asked the Public Service Board for a certificate of public good to construct the wind turbines.

Albany and Craftsbury selectboards have determined “the proposed benefits from the project do not outweigh the adverse impacts to their communities,” the towns stated in a news release Monday issued by Energize Vermont, an organization that says its mission is finding renewable-energy sources “that are in harmony with the irreplaceable character of Vermont.”

Selectboard members in Albany, the closest town to the proposed development, voted in a meeting last week to send a letter opposing Kingdom Community Wind, writing that the wind project is “shocking and offensive.” Board members cited concerns about negative health effects from the turbines’ noise, visual and aesthetic effects, and possible effects on firefighting resources.

In Craftsbury, which Energize Vermont says has “many of the most prominent direct sight lines” to the wind development, Selectboard members based their opposition on aesthetics and the effects on “the local economy and quality of life.” Officials also cited effects on wildlife habitat, water flows and “community identity,” and also said the project would not provide “stable, low-cost power” or help combat climate change.

The project’s developers say it could generate enough electricity to power 20,000 households, and they have promised $400,000 a year in payments to Lowell, which town officials say would result in tax relief for residents. The town voted overwhelmingly last year to approve the project, though it still needs approval from Vermont utility regulators.

Shumlin in February announced his support for the project, which had been opposed by the administration of his predecessor, Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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