Developers of a proposed utility-scale wind facility in Swanton say they are “moving forward,” despite a vote three days ago in which residents overwhelmingly opposed the project.
Martha Staskus of Waterbury-based Vera Renewables, consultants for Swanton Wind LLC, said Friday the development team continues “looking and listening” for ways to improve the project.
The town vote is nonbinding. Developers still have the opportunity to secure state permits and approval from the Vermont Public Service Board – typically a process that takes more than a year.
Staskus declined to comment on whether reducing the scale of the project is now under consideration.
Even before the balloting, the proposed seven-turbine, 20-megawatt facility on Rocky Ridge near Fairfield Pond met local opposition, mostly on grounds of noise.
Tuesday’s special ballot asked voters whether they opposed construction. The final tally was 731 yes votes to 160 no votes, according to the Swanton Town Clerk’s Office. By about the same margin, voters approved a measure to increase local control over large energy projects.
About 25 percent of registered voters took part in the balloting.
Former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who lives near Fairfield Pond, said Friday that tougher wind-turbine noise regulation – of the sort in place in European countries with extensive wind farms – would go a long way in smoothing the adoption of wind projects in Vermont.
Until that time, Dubie added, Swanton Wind should not only weigh local objections but also the concerns of Green Mountain Power, the utility with whom the turbines would likely connect.
Among those concerns, wrote GMP spokeswoman Kristin Carlson in an email, are cost and community feedback, and “right now we have a good balance of cost-effective wind in our portfolio.”
The vote in Swanton has a recent precedence: Residents in Irasburg in October delivered a thumbs-down to a two-turbine project on Kidder Hill. The status of that project remains in flux.
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