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State signals Rutland County wind project may be unacceptable  

Credit:  John Dillon, Vermont Public Radio, www.vpr.net dated Monday, 01/02/12 7:34am ~~

(Host) The state Agency of Natural Resources is concerned that a large wind power project planned for Rutland County could have unacceptable environmental impacts.

Agency officials met recently with the developer and told him the project faces steep hurdles for approval.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) Grandpa’s Knob in Rutland County is a historic place for the wind industry. During World War 2, the country’s first large-scale wind generator harnessed the breezes blowing over the mountain ridge and showed that wind energy had commercial potential.

A Manchester-based company now hopes to use the ridgeline – and others nearby – for up to 20 turbines. The project is in the conceptual stage without specific site plans for where the turbines would be located.

But the initial reaction from the Agency of Natural Resources was less than positive.

(Markowitz) “We let them know it may be difficult to overcome some of these concerns.”

(Dillon) Deb Markowitz is secretary of natural resources.

Her staff met recently with the project owner and his consultant and outlined several potential problems. Markowitz stressed that the review is in its very early stages.

(Markowitz) “We’re not looking at a specific project. We’re just taking a look at the area in general. And what we let them know is that – unlike what we saw in Lowell – there are numerous rare species and state significant natural communities right in this area.”

(Dillon) Lowell in the Northeast Kingdom is the site of a wind development now being built by Green Mountain Power. The project was approved after extensive negotiations with the Natural Resources Agency over habitat issues.

An internal email written by Deputy ANR Secretary Chris Recchia says the state delivered a very direct message to the Grandpa’s Knob developer. Recchia wrote that the project is planned for a section of the Taconic Range that the state considers a rare and irreplaceable natural area.

Recchia goes on to say -quote – “We could not have been clearer or delivered a stronger message that this site presents significant hurdles to wind development that we do not see a path to get through.”

Project owner Steve Eisenberg of Reunion Power in Manchester declined to speak in detail on the state’s reaction. Eisenberg said he hasn’t determined yet where the access roads or turbines would go.

(Eisenberg) “Given the less-than-fully-fleshed-out nature of our site plan it’s really not wise for us to comment, although we do take seriously what the agency did tell us.”

(Dillon) Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment is skeptical of large-scale wind development of ridgelines. She used the Vermont access to public records law to obtain the state’s comments on the Grandpa’s Knob project.

(Smith) “I think this is showing that ANR is trying to do better than on past projects. For instance, they called the developers in rather than waiting for the developer to come to them. And they have studied this area and noted, as many others have, that this is an important, unfragmented habitat block that should be conserved not developed.”

(Dillon) But Eisenberg says this wasn’t first time he met with the state to discuss the proposal. He says he believes in the technology and hopes to pursue a project in Vermont.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

Source:  John Dillon, Vermont Public Radio, www.vpr.net dated Monday, 01/02/12 7:34am

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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