I was raised in Fair Haven and have had a number of businesses in Fair Haven, West Rutland and Hubbardton. Hubbardton is where we chose to build our home and raise our children and grandchildren.
As a landowner and partner in a group with substantial acreage on Pittsford Ridge, for the past several months I have been aggressively pursued financially to grant Reunion Power the easement rights to use our property for their wind turbine project they are proposing for Pittsford Ridge.
To me, the deception begins with the name, “Grandpa’s Knob Wind Park”. Sounds like a place to bring the kids for the day, doesn’t it? Sort of like “The Great Escape”. I suspect some PR firm came up with that.
The misrepresentation of the facts to the public and to many of the prospective landowners by Reunion is, if not illegal, deceitful as well as morally and ethically improper.
Reunion offered my partners and me a sweetheart deal to come aboard and even offered me, personally, a lucrative position with them. They said the deal was much better than what the other landowners were getting. Though I was flattered, I soon had to look at myself in the mirror and admit it really wasn’t me they wanted. They wanted my land and for me to bring my partners with me. I knew nothing about wind technology or anything they were buying me for, except my land and my friends.
Shame on me for not keeping my conversations with you confidential, Reunion, but my real obligations are to my family and friends and to our beautiful state of Vermont, which trumps any sense of honor to Reunion. You see friends, my partners and I turned them down. God knows, the money was tempting, but not worth what I would feel when I looked in the mirror, or saw my friends and neighbors at the general store or the gas station each day. No, I am very comfortable with my decision. I hope others will reconsider theirs! I know one other who recently has done just that, and he now has protected his land and our community long into the future and like me, I know he will sleep better at night too.
I realize my wife and I may be putting a lot at risk, by having the audacity to confront a large company with deep pockets but we decided what good was money in the bank if we weren’t proud of how it got there.
Here are a few examples of what took place and why I became very uncomfortable doing business with Reunion Power. On one occasion, in my kitchen, I asked Steve Eisenberg what had happened in the Ira and Susie’s Peak projects and why had they failed. Eisenberg said the developer was an “idiot” and they had let out too much information to the public and too early in the process which gave the public too much time to do their own research and find out the facts. Eisenberg said to me “we will not make the same mistake, we will hold our cards much closer and only release the information sparingly at the last possible moment”. Obviously, this is part of their business plan and strategy.
And when Reunion offered my partners and me substantially more guaranteed money than the other landowners, they didn’t seem concerned about betraying the other landowners, but rather emphasized keeping it confidential so the others couldn’t charge them with breach of contract issues if they found out about our “special deal”. The others had signed easements with the belief the compensation would be the same formula for all. I encourage my neighbor landowners to call Reunion and confirm their conversation with me. I’d love to hear their response.
On another occasion, I asked Reunion about a scathing report from the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) which was very critical of this project and couldn’t perceive it going forward. I was told the ANR has to appear to be doing its job but “we have friends in high places” and a friendly Administration as well.
What ANR knew and we are all discovering is that the project will result in damage to our wetlands and even Lake Bomoseen from massive storm runoff, and in irreversible harm to the environment and our wildlife. I urge you to get informed on this subject and thank your local Select Boards in Castleton, Hubbardton, Pittsford and West Rutland for having the guts to say no to Reunion.
Support them, but that’s not enough. This fight is ultimately going to be decided in Montpelier at the Public Service Board. Reunion knows that and is banking on it to save them. Don’t allow this experiment, with the largest turbines yet, to be built on our ridge line!
Personally, I will take pride in being able to say to my grandchildren, “Pop may not be able to leave you much when I pass, but what I am leaving you with is the knowledge that I had a small part in keeping these mountains and Vermont in the condition that makes them so special”.
Yours in what we all love about Vermont,
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