MOUNT HOLLY – By a unanimous vote Wednesday the Select Board passed a moratorium on the development of large solar, wind and hydro-electric energy projects.
The three-member board in Mount Holly agreed projects 16 kW or larger should not be developed.
While the legal effect of the action is unclear – in light of siting processes that must be reviewed by the Public Service Board – the practical effect of the moratorium may be to discourage such development for two years, or until “the town adopts a new development plan, whichever comes first,” according to Ted Crawford, Select Board chairman. Still up in the air though is the town’s new development plan, which could take as long as two years to complete.
According to Ed Bove, executive director of Rutland Regional Planning Commission, Mount Holly’s response is “unique among towns considering the effect of planned energy projects.” Crawford echoed that understanding as the first such measure known in Vermont.
No discussion ensued at the Select Board meeting about the merits of the moratorium.
Crawford said the measure was recommended by the Planning Commission.
The measure was adopted after a few months of notification, presentations, and discussion of two energy projects slated for the town – a 100 kW contract project to be developed by Star Wind Turbines of East Dorset for a site on Hedgehog Hill Road and a 148 kW solar project by SunCommon on Route 103.
Jason Day, the owner of Star Wind Turbine, made a presentation as an invited guest of the Mount Holly Planning Commission. According to citizens familiar with that meeting, Day was granted only 10 minutes to make his presentation and after that many people at that meeting followed him outside to hear the rest of his presentation in the parking lot.
“The project is comparable in size to the wind turbine at Mount Holly Elementary School. It would not violate any of the state laws’ criteria for visual impairment, noise or shadow casting.” Day said in a recent interview.
He said the project would yield a 30 percent return on investment. As for his company, he moved it to East Dorset from New Jersey, “with the support of Vermont investors, to be employing Vermonters, for the economic benefit of Vermonters.” All of these issues are covered in his application for a Certificate of Public Good with the Public Service Board, he added.
“I’ve withdrawn projects that don’t meet what the public wants. We did just that in Danby. But people can see for themselves what we’re seeking to create when our project is completed around Christmas along three areas of Route 7 in East Dorset. This is not a mega-energy, corporate, out-of-state project and neither is our proposal for Mount Holly.”
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