Vermont wind project could be biggest in state; More than 100 people attend meeting to ask questions
WINDHAM >> About 110 people gathered for a meeting in Windham, where Iberdrola representatives explained the company’s potential construction of 20 wind turbines in Windham and eight in Grafton.
“We’ve determined after three years (of study) that it is a viable piece of land,” said Iberdola’s project manager, Jenny Briot.
Iberdrola is proposing a 96-Megawatt wind project that will cover 5,000 acres of property through the Stiles Brook Forest that would pay $1 million in property taxes to the two towns if the company goes forward with the project.
According to the managing forester at Meadowsend Timberlands Limited, Jeremy Turner, all traditional use of the land will remain the same.
During the meeting, Iberdrola representatives explained where the project is in the time line, where it is headed and what benefits will be brought to the local economy. Briot said a proposal will be available to the public by fall 2016.
Briot said this is a feasible piece of land for numerous reasons, particularly due to the elevation, the existing 345Kv lines located on site and because there are no permanent residence within the project boundary.
“The project details result in enough power to power 43,000 homes with this emission-free energy,” said Briot.
According to the preliminary layout, Windham would receive about $715,000 annually, while Grafton would receive $285,000 in property taxes each year. In addition, The state would receive $700,000 annually into the education fund and both towns could receive supplemental annual payments in addition to the proposed taxes.
“One of the first things we do is called a view-shed assessment where we do some computer modeling and map out the visibility throughout the project area and surrounding areas,” said Iberdrola’s permitting manager, Michael Clayton. “We’ve started to do that and it is still in the preliminary stage.”
Iberdrola demonstrated their visual simulations from locations in Windham.
“Visual simulation is the result of a pretty high-tech complex process using computer enhanced images to show what the project would look like if the project was built from various locations,” said Clayton.
Clayton presented five different simulations for the audience to compare the current view and simulated view. These Windham simulations showed: Route 121 and Windham Hill Road; Windham Church/Meeting House; Windham Hill Road; Windham Town Offices; and the Valley Bible Church in South Windham. However, based on the simulation from the Valley Bible Church site there is no visibility of the turbine.
“If this layout were to change between now and whenever, we would have to go back and reassess the visibility and make sure it’s current and up to speed,” said Clayton.
The company has found it fitting to install 28 wind Vestas V 126 turbines, 3.45 mega watt machine. The turbines are mounted on an 87 meter tower and the rotor is 126 meters in diameter, which produces a blade tip height of 150 meters (492 feet).
“This is a newer technology,” said communications representative at Iberdrola, Paul Copleman, about the wind turbines that the company has found fit for the sites in Grafton and Windham. “These are newer models that enable us to take advantage of wind resource.”
The turbine tip in Lempster, N.H., has a height of about 400 feet whereas the height for the Stiles Brook forest is projected at 492 feet.
“The science that I have seen, pointed to a study that talks about the carbon footprint based on the production and construction of turbines, the carbon footprint is paid off in six months,” said Copleman.
This renewable energy source emits no carbon in its operation compared to other types of electricity generation, he explained.
“There is a sound standard that is put forth by the Vermont Public Service Board to protect public health and safety,” said Copleman. “And we have a track record of over 50 projects here in the U.S. with thousands of people living with them, neighbors to them, without a record of health effects from living and working near those projects.”
However, according to a recent press release from the Department of Public Service, a complaint has been filed regarding a violation of the noise standard at Sheffield Industrial Wind. “Vermont’s Department of Public Service (DPS) has concluded that ‘after extensive review of a homeowner’s own sound measurements and analysis, … the indoor sound pressure levels at the homeowner’s residence’ may have violated the state’s noise standards, justifying an investigation into Vermont Wind’s alleged compliance with the Noise Monitoring Plan it submitted to the Public Service Board …”
“We have to use the best available science as it informs the siting and the project process,” said Copleman. “And that is overseen of course by the state of Vermont, which uses a sounds standard that is stricter than the World Health Organization recommendations.”
If the project receives positive votes and all of the necessary permits, construction may begin in 2019.
The meeting was followed by half an hour of questions and answers and then guests were welcomed to free refreshments as well as pizza provided by the Country Store at the bottom of the Windham Hill Road.
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