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Newark says NO (again) to industrial wind

The opinion piece Jack Kenworthy penned to Newark (12/06 “Commitments to the Community”) has raised the concern of some, and the ire of other, Newark community members. In April of 2012 Mr. Kenworthy’s company submitted an application to construct four MET (meteorological measurement) towers in Newark, Brighton and Ferdinand. The MET towers are predecessors to a 100 MW Industrial wind project which, if allowed, would deploy up to forty turbines on the ridgelines of the Northeast Kingdom, each close to 500 feet tall.

In his piece Mr. Kenworthy states that he will withdraw from Newark if voters reject an “actual” proposal. We in Newark find this curious, as we have already voted to reject his “actual” MET tower proposal. On Sept 17th, during the largest town meeting in Newark’s history, 74 percent of the voters approved an amended town plan which said NO to MET towers, NO to Industrial Wind and NO to the project which Mr. Kenworthy and his colleagues discussed with residents for five months preceding the vote. Mr.Kenworthy has been either unable, or unwilling, to hear the results of that vote. He wants yet another vote.

Newark voted NO on Mr. Kenworthy’s “actual” proposal, yet Mr. Kenworthy repeats his commitment to leave, without “actually”leaving.

The town chose to make its position on Mr. Kenworthy’s proposal known through amending the town plan. The town plan is the only mechanism that Vermont law provides by which towns can influence the development of energy projects. In its support of Newark, the Department of Public Service (DPS) stated “A developer may not, on its own, choose to supplant the state law process of town planning through offers of a future vote on terms acceptable to the developer.” (10/17 DPS letter). And yet, with his insistence that Newark vote yet again, isn’t this exactly what Mr. Kenworthy is attempting to do?

Mr. Kenworthy also tells Newark his company will “seek” to use radar sonar activated lights that will destroy the tranquility of the night only when activated by aircraft flying nearby. We find no evidence the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) intends to approve this technology.

Mr. Kenworthy goes on to discuss a commitment to keep the land open for hunting and recreation *after* the turbines are up. Odd, since today, when there is ostensibly NO construction, NO dangerous turbines and NOTHING to hide, citizens are denied access to the largest parcel of land being leased by Mr. Kenworthy’s company. In fact, one has only to attempt to go near the turbines in Sheffield or Lowell to see that this commitment is specious. Are we to expect a scenario in which developers install multi-million dollar turbines, the noise and motion of the turbines then scares away wildlife, and now the developers will allow hunters to walk around the turbines?

In fairness to Mr. Kenworthy, the one aspect of his “actual” project which has only been vaguely discussed is money. When it comes to IW development we know the developers and investors get rich because of production tax credits (our federal dollars), a few land owners (each one, in this case, NOT from Vermont) get rich because of lucrative leasing arrangements, and the towns could make some money if they choose to enter into negotiations with the wind prospectors.

The irony is that it’s during this process, when towns are under attack by wind prospectors, that there is the most pressure to raise money. Huge fees are amassed by small towns in an attempt to rid themselves of uninvited wind developers.

Newark could certainly use the money.

But most of us know we have something in Newark far more precious than money. The Kingdom is a special place. That’s why we live here. Residents of the Kingdom are not motivated by money alone. Perhaps that’s why Mr. Kenworthy doesn’t understand the Newark vote. Those who are easily bought have a lot of trouble understanding those who cannot be bought.

Noreen Hession
Newark, Vt.