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Sheffield wind project unveiled

Wind turbines have been in the works for the ridgeline in Sheffield for close to a decade and as of Wednesday they are officially online.

Sixteen new wind turbines line the ridgeline in Sheffield. The towers have been eight years and 100-million dollars in the making. Wednesday Governor Shumlin (D-Vt) joined supporters of the project to officially welcome them online.

“I think the exciting thing about this specific project is that it this is the first major wind project to be built in Vermont in many years,” Gov. Shumlin said.

“We know it is a good project. We’re selling power at fixed prices to consumers, the economic development – we’ve had a lot of Vermont companies involved, over 50 local companies have been involved in making this project a reality,” said Paul Gaynor, the CEO of First Wind, the company behind the project.

First Wind estimates the turbines will generate power for about 15-thousand Vermont homes for about 10-cents per kilowatt hour. It’s more than the roughly 6 cents per hour for hydro and 4 cents for nuclear that Vermonters pay now, but supporters say it is still a good idea. “It’s clean energy. They’re up here not bothering anybody and I think we need more of them,” said Leslie Degreenia, a local resident.

Not everyone thinks the wind turbines are reason to celebrate. Roughly 20 people turned out with signs and posters to show the Governor and First Wind they think they’re a bad idea.

“The damage is to the community. I mean our community has been damaged terribly by this – the surrounding towns are fighting. It’s just a bad idea for this community as far as this project goes,” said Greg Bryant of Sheffield.

Many against the project fear the estimated 10-million dollars in tax revenue for Sheffield over the next two decades will not materialize and say the 420 foot structures are bad for the ridgeline. “It’s destroyed habitat, it’s in a flyway, it’s in prominent view coming down from Canada on I-91, it’s a completely incongruous site, it just doesn’t fit,” said Eric Rosenbloom with the group National Wind Watch.

Governor Shumlin says he likes the way the towers look and says the project is just the start to meeting the state’s future energy needs. “This is the beginning of what is really an exhaustive effort to build renewables as quickly as we know how,” he said.

Development and construction of the turbines took roughly 185- thousand hours of labor. The project will employ 10 permanent employees.