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UTG board position on wind project added to town plan

FERDINAND – The Unified Towns and Gores’ displeasure with a proposed wind project is about to be codified in the town plan.

Following a decisive “no” vote by property owners on the wind project last month, the UTG Planning Board has moved to add the vote’s outcome to the town plan.

Language is also being added to the town plan showing that the Planning Board supports a moratorium in the Northeast Kingdom on industrial wind development and believes it is incompatible with the landscape which relies on forestry and tourism.

In the minutes of the February UTG Planning Board meeting, it is stated under the header of “Vote on Seneca Mountain Wind Project” that the commission was not voting on the project, “but is acknowledging what the Town voted, and putting it in the Town Plan.”

The UTG Board had remained neutral until property owners offered direction, but following the January vote in Ferdinand, they announced their position would align with the majority of landowners and oppose the wind project by Eolian Renewable Energy of Portsmouth, N.H.

The changes in the town plan will remove the assertion that large-scale and commercial projects would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and replace it with this language, “The Planning Commission is not equipped with the resources to determine all the facts that are at dispute in the debate over large-scale industrial wind development.”

The town plan will also note that the UTG Board of Governors conducted a survey of property taxpayers that showed 171 against industrial wind turbines on their ridge lines, versus 107 in favor. “The planning commission is in agreement with this vote.”

The draft goes on to say that the region’s economy relies heavily on tourism, which is dependent on “its reputation as unspoiled mountainous and forested landscape,” and that the wind proposal is not in line with those qualities. It would also disturb sensitive ecological areas and highly visible “aesthetic landmarks.”

Using the proposed project name of Seneca Mountain Wind, LLC, Eolian had proposed a 16-turbine industrial wind project to span the ridge lines in Ferdinand. Originally, that project had been conceived to be larger, spanning the ridge lines of Newark and Brighton as well. Newark and Brighton fought the project and amended their town plans to be unfriendly to wind developers.

SMW/Eolian had committed to local and state officials that they would walk away from any town who voted against their proposal after a full project proposal was made.

SMW/Eolian has obtained a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board to raise 200-feet tall meteorological towers to test wind conditions in three towns. Only the Ferdinand MET tower has been erected.