DERBY LINE – As a representative sampling, 33 ballots aren’t much. But the results of Tuesday night’s ballot will guide the Derby Line Village Trustees in their negotiations with both the town of Derby and the Public Service Board (PSB) with regards to the two wind towers proposed for farms adjacent to the village limits.
The voters polled at the annual village meeting Tuesday night were strongly in favor of voicing opposition to the wind turbines by a vote of 24 against and nine in favor.
The issue of the wind towers arose as a special article in the warning for the meeting.
Unanswered and possibly unanswerable questions dogged the discussion about the two turbines proposed for Grandview Farm owned by Brian and Sue Davis and Smuggler’s Hill Farm owned by Jonathan and Jayne Chase.
“Do we have enough information to say this is good and we need it?” resident Chris Blais asked Tuesday. “I don’t see the numbers that say this is going to work. I applaud wind power in the proper place but I don’t think the middle of the village is it.”
The potential ill-effects caused by infrasound – sounds inaudible to the human ear – are too great to ignore, Dick Fletcher said, reiterating comments he delivered at the PSB hearing in Derby last week.
“We feel that there is a very real risk to Vermonters and Canadians who will be affected by possible health issues resulting from these towers,” Mr. Fletcher said. “I’m saying put the brakes on.”
The issue of property rights surfaced. Pete Jacobs, a neighbor to the Grandview Farm property, expressed his dismay at the prospect of a huge wind tower rising above his home.
“Once you get over the tree line, that’s in my space,” Mr. Jacobs said.
“They may own the land but they do not own the air,” Daria MonDesire said. “It’s my air. I’m not going to fund their retirement on my health.”
Trustee Keith Beadle, who earlier in the evening was re-elected to a three-year term on the board, voiced his support for the project. In the larger context, this nation needs to consider the alternatives to the fossil fuels on which the country is currently so dependent, he said.
Fellow Trustee W. Perry Hunt did not share Mr. Beadle’s opinion. The fact that it’s energy generated at a premium while being subsidized by the taxpayer suggests it’s based on an unsustainable economic model, he said.
“Let them come up with a product and the financing for that product that produces electricity at comparable costs per kilowatt,” Mr. Hunt said.
The developer for the wind turbines, Encore Redevelopment, has proposed a payment of $15,000 per year for 20 years to the village, Mr. Beadle said. That payment is tantamount to a bribe, Mr. Jacobs said.
“Would you have us say we don’t want the money?” Trustee Roland “Buzzy” Roy asked.
“I’d like you to tell them we don’t want it,” Mr. Jacobs replied.
The trustees expressed reluctance to battle any position before the PSB, citing their relative lack of expertise on engineering, sound studies, or wind turbines. The prospect of retaining experts or lawyers to do so on the village’s behalf was equally daunting, Mr. Beadle said.
“At this point we don’t have the knowledge to contest this, and I think we have to leave it to the PSB,” Mr. Beadle said. “I know many of you may shudder to think of it.”
Village Clerk Karen Jenne said that, by simply reiterating the opposition expressed by Tuesday night’s vote, the village would send a message that neither the Derby Selectmen nor the PSB could ignore.
“We have to let our opinions be known,” Ms. Jenne said.
By comparison, the rest of Tuesday night’s annual meeting was relatively tame.
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