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Protest in Swanton over new wind project

SWANTON, Vt. – A Vermonter wants to build wind turbines on top of a ridgeline in Swanton.

Deep in the woods of Swanton and a few hundred feet up the ridgeline is where turbines may stand. An informational meeting about the project was met with a protest.

Using the wind to power 7,800 homes. That’s what developer Travis Belisle says he wants to do with seven wind turbines he plans to install on his land in Swanton.

“I’ve thought about it for quite some time and it’s a contribution to our clean energy future for the generations ahead,” said Belisle.

The Swanton Wind Project has been several years in the making. Spending more than $30 million of his own money, Belisle is in the final stages of getting the OK from the state to build the electric wind farm along this ridgeline.

Reporter Logan Crawford: How tall are these turbines going to be, Travis?

Belisle: We are permitting to 499 feet.

Logan: so these could be as high as 500 feet?

Belisle: They’ll be under 499.

Belisle says his turbines will look similar to ones on top of Georgia Mountain. But the project has many asking questions. Thursday at the Swanton Village Municipal Complex, Belisle held a meeting so they could get some answers.

“They’re looking at the resources, the natural resources, they have everything covered. It’s good,” said Rita Dean, Swanton.

Not everyone is supporting the proposed construction. Several people protested the project outside Belisle’s meeting. Many who live in the area say the turbines will ruin the ridgeline’s landscape and be harmful to the environment and wildlife.

“Industrial turbines, they don’t belong up there. There’s no way you can do it with affecting everything on that ridge,” said Christine Lang.

There’s also concerns about noise. Some meeting attendees were not satisfied with the information they were given.

“Trying to be open-minded and hear what they have to say but I think they’re trying to rush this too fast,” said Paula Pearsol, Fairfield.

Belisle intends to move forward. It’s now up to the Public Service Board to decide if the turbines will come.

“With any change you’re going to have skepticism, you’re going to have fear. We’re not going to evolve as a society without change,” said Belisle.

Belisle says he’s going in front of the Public Service Board in October. If approved he hopes to have the wind turbines up and running as early as the end of 2016.