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NEK development officials vote to oppose large wind projects

Economic development officials in the Northeast Kingdom recently voted against any new development of utility-scale wind projects in the region, citing concerns over community division.

The executive committee for the Northeastern Vermont Development Association voted unanimously to recommend that the regional planning commission oppose future wind projects. The recommendation must be approved by the commission’s board of directors.

“The NVDA sees one clear benefit to industrial wind energy, one clear problem, and a host of troubling questions. The clear benefit is the tax relief that industrial wind complexes bring to their host towns. The clear problem is the bitter divisions that wind brings to our communities,” the committee’s position statement reads.

In 2005, the committee adopted a statement that it supported wind power. Since then, wind utility-scale farms were built on Lowell Mountain and Sheffield Mountain.

The commission said this has raised “troubling questions” about the reliability of wind energy, electricity prices, social disruption, human health and environmental impacts, aesthetics, property values, tourism and false claims about environmental benefits.

“We are also troubled by the state’s energy policies, the state’s permitting process, and the ease with which the public good as expressed in our municipal and regional plans can be overridden by people who may never have even visited our region,” the statement says.