The developers of a proposed wind farm on Grandpa’s Knob hope to file a certificate of public good application with the Vermont Public Service Board later this year.
Steve Eisenberg, managing director of Reunion Power, said in the meantime, they would be finalizing several site studies and environmental reports including noise, visual studies and housing surveys as part of the ongoing project layout with engineers.
“We are very selective of the projects that we undertake,” he said. “We believe wind energy power works.”
They are also conducting ongoing negotiations with Vermont utilities for the project while planning meetings with the project’s host towns and affected residents within the next six weeks.
The Manchester-based company has proposed a 20-turbine wind farm generating up to 50 megawatts of energy annually on Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline. It touches the towns of West Rutland, Castleton, Hubbardton and Pittsford.
According to Eisenberg, the project’s estimated cost is “an excess of $100,000,” with an estimated lifespan of approximately 25 years. Approximately 100 jobs will be created during construction, while between three to four full-time jobs will created for management.
Reunion Power partnered with international turbine manufacturer Nordex USA to develop the project.
Grandpa’s Knob was the site of the first utility-scale wind turbine in operation for four years during World War II.
The development team was invited to provide an update to the Rutland Regional Planning Commission on Tuesday. More than 20 concerned residents from the host towns filled the room which garnered a warning from the commission’s chairman.
“This is an informational meeting to listen to a presentation from Reunion Power,” said RRPC chairman Fred Nicholson. “If you get too rowdy, I will kick you out.”
According to Eisenberg, they have approximately 4,500 acres of land under long term easements and the estimated area for the project – turbine location, roads and maintenance building – is about 150 acres or 3 percent of the total area.
“Twenty turbines is a viable number given the terrain, the sensitive areas, trees and impacts,” he said on Wednesday.
The size of the turbine towers and blades have not been selected, Eisenberg said, but the tower could be 100 or 80 meters high with blades as long as 117 feet. He said the product selection will happen after all the studies have been completed.
Following the presentation, the commissioners raised several questions, including concerns from the Agency of Natural Resources on some of the sensitive natural areas found on Grandpa’s Knob.
Commissioner Annette Smith said the state agency did not see how there can be development on the ridgeline considering the natural areas found there.
Tom Vought of Nordex USA said the discussions with ANR were in general terms and that the agency had not made any decisions on the project.
“We are coordinating studies with their help,” he said.
Following the presentation, residents at the meeting said they were disappointed the commission did not allow them to ask questions to the developer and voice their concerns about the project.
“Let more people be involved,” said Lisa Garcia of Florence. “We are very concerned that our town officials and even the regional commission are just accepting the dog-and-pony show from the developers.”
Meetings with the host towns are being scheduled for the next several months. A meeting in West Rutland is on May 14 while a meeting in Pittsford has been tentatively scheduled for June.