The state Agency of Natural Resources is concerned that a proposed wind farm on Grandpa’s Knob could have negative environmental impacts. Agency representatives recently met with the project developer Reunion Power to discuss their concerns that the project is planned on a section of the Taconic Range that is considered “a rare, irreplaceable natural area” by the state.
Deborah Markowitz, secretary of natural resources, said the agency was not looking at a specific proposal and were talking in general terms about the habitat on Grandpa’s Knob. She said that unlike the project in Lowell, the habitat of the proposed site had numerous rare species.
“We said ‘this might not be a good area because there are some rare, irreplaceable natural areas,’” she said.
Markowitz said they were not prejudging any application and encourage these types of meetings with all developers during initial stages of a project.
Steve Eisenberg, managing director of Reunion Power, said the December meeting, and several other meetings with the agency, are “normal, customary outreach” with all major stakeholders for a project. He said the company requested the meetings with the agency and there is a follow–up meeting tentatively planned for later this month.
“We are further evaluating the on-the-ground conditions, natural conditions and living organisms,” he said.
The Manchester-based company has proposed a project that would install up to 20 wind turbines along the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline in West Rutland, Castleton, Hubbardton and Pittsford. The company has not submitted project applications to the state.
According to an email from Deputy Secretary Christopher Recchia to Markowitz that was requested by the Rutland Herald, Recchia met with Reunion Power’s owner and consultant to explain that “(the agency) did not see a way of overcoming these resource obstacles, as, unlike Lowell, there is no opportunity for nearby off site compensation that could maintain the connectivity goal, not to mention the steep hurdle of the natural communities on the site.”
Recchia explained he was not prejudging any application and wanted to give early warning about the habitat value of the site before the company started spending money and the agency lots of time.
“I don’t think they will not pursue this, but in the spirit of letting people know of concerns at the earliest time, 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,” Recchia said in the email.
Eisenberg said they are still gathering all the information required for the project and have not fully developed a site map that would include the number of turbines, their locations and all other natural habitat impacts like roads. He said they are working ANR as well as Vermont Fish and Wildlife and all other stake holders in gathering all necessary information.
“It’s multi-disciplined. We are also looking at other projects that have been approved,” he said.
Eisenberg said they have also scheduled several meetings with town officials, not just those towns where the proposed project would be, but also towns around that would be affected by it.
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