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Vermont senators to discuss wind power

GRAFTON – Friends of Grafton’s Heritage has invited legislators and residents of towns with wind turbines to discuss the issues related to industrial wind farms.

A public information meeting will be held on Friday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the Grafton Elementary School on School Street. This is the second public information meeting organized by the Friends of Grafton’s Heritage, a grass-roots organization dedicated to preserving the historic and natural values of the town. The group believes that an industrial scale wind development would have far-reaching consequences on the quality of life, property values, tourism, the economy and health of the residents of historic Grafton.

Ken Dufort, former Grafton Town Moderator, will moderate the 90-minute meeting. The panel of speakers will include: Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham; Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington County who’s also Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy; Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia; Lisa Linowes, executive director, Industrial Wind Action; Noreen Hession, co-chair of Newark Neighbors United; and Steve and Luann Therrien, Sheffield residents who live less than a mile from the Sheffield Wind Project.

Benning and Hartwell have proposed in the Legislature a three-year moratorium to evaluate whether changes need to be made to the permitting process for wind projects. Currently the bill includes language to make town plans binding,
to require an extensive study of the impacts of ridgeline wind projects and to require big wind projects to meet all existing Act 250 criteria.

Galbraith backs the moratorium and said he expects it to be considered by the full Senate. He also has introduced legislation that bans industrial wind turbines on state land and allows affected communities to vote on whether to allow a wind project to move forward.

“It gives the affected towns a say,” said Galbraith, who believes that it is possible to appreciate fully the dangers of climate change, but to believe that the solutions to the global crisis don’t lie on the top of Vermont’s green mountains.

Linowes is an expert on the impacts of industrial-scale wind energy development on the natural environment, communities, and the regional grid systems. Since its formation in 2006, she has served as Executive Director and spokesperson for the Industrial Wind Action (IWA) Group, a national advocacy focused on the impact/benefits analysis and policy issues associated with industrial wind energy development. She has presented and debated wind energy issues at numerous venues across the United States including the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Society of Environmental Journalists, and the Boston Museum of Science lecture series. She has appeared on CNN, NPR, and the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, as well as in the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and dozens of smaller newspapers across the nation. Linowes served as a member of the New Hampshire State Wind Energy Facility Siting Guidelines Working Group to determine guidelines for the siting of land-based wind turbines.

Hession is co-chair of Newark Neighbors United. Individuals opposed to the Seneca Mountain industrial wind project proposal formed NNU.

All are welcome and invited to ask questions. Pizza and beverages will be served free of charge.