December 21, 2012

Developer: Wind project on hiatus but still moving forward

Times Argus | December 21, 2012 |

The developer of a proposed wind project on the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline said Wednesday the project “is in a hiatus, but it is still alive.”

Project manager Steve Eisenberg of Reunion Power would not elaborate on the next steps the company was taking with the project, but reiterated that it was not dead and moving forward.

He said they have not chosen a date to file the project with the Vermont Public Service Board, which issues permits for energy generation projects in the state.

“We still believe that this project still has potential for success with environmental and economic benefits,” Eisenberg said.

Manchester-based Reunion Power’s proposal of 18 turbines in Hubbardton, West Rutland, Pittsford and Castleton, has been a contentious issue among residents around the county.

Apparent opposition to the project by residents motivated town officials in the four towns to vote against the wind farm. Hubbardton held a townwide vote, in which residents rejected the project 94-6.

In addition to these decisions, all four towns have worked on amending portions of their town plans to prevent the construction and commercial development of the ridgelines. The select boards in three towns – Hubbardton, West Rutland and Pittsford – have approved the amendments while Castleton is still working on the changes.

John Hale, chairman of the Castleton Planning Commission, said Thursday his group was asked by the Select Board to make additional changes to the proposed amendments especially in a proposed Ridgeline Protection Overlay.

“We have done that,” he said.

The Castleton Planning Commission will have a public hearing on the revised amendments at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 8 before the town plan is sent to the Select Board for final approval.

Aside from the work by the town officials, the project has been at a standstill over the last several months without much movement by the developers.

The last action, though, was to disassemble two 197-foot wind measurement towers that were on the ridgeline for the past five years. The towers measure wind speed, wind direction, air temperature and other meteorological parameters frequently every day.

The certificate of public good issued by the PSB for the two measurement towers expired Dec. 12 and Reunion Power did not file for an extensione.

Eisenberg said the company has more than four years of information gathered from the measurement towers, and that would be sufficient to move the project forward.

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