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Newport City: lawmakers praise wind opponents for their work in Montpelier

NEWPORT CITY – Lawmakers praised Northeast Kingdom residents for pushing hard for more local say in wind and solar projects.

Rep. Vicki Strong, R-Albany, credited Robbin Clark of Lowell and Don and Shirley Nelson, formerly of Lowell, for their work lobbying against the pro-wind forces in the Legislature.

“It’s my hope and dream” that their work will lead to a time when industrial wind projects will be banned, Strong said.

Clark has been in the Statehouse every day, in the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, pushing for acknowledgement of the impact wind turbines have on residents, she said.

The chairman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee took up Senate bill S.230 that addresses sound standards and allows towns adjacent to proposed wind projects to have party status, Strong said. It’s now before the House Appropriations Committee.

“It really does happen when people get involved,” she said.

Rep. Sam Young, D-Glover, said the bill requires the state utility regulators to set noise monitoring guidelines that will affect current projects.

While that’s being set up, Young said, there will be a moratorium on further wind projects for a year and a half.

Sen. Bobby Starr, D-Essex-Orleans Counties, said S.230 is a step forward but it doesn’t go as far as he’d like it to go.

It addresses wind projects of four or more turbines, and would have no effect on a small project of two industrial turbines like at Kidder Hill in Irasburg, he said.

That project would come in under the radar, Starr said.

There are other efforts to make the wind and solar projects conform to Vermont’s traditional land preservation efforts.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has a bill that would require solar projects on prime agricultural soils to mitigate the loss, he said.

“We’ve got our nose under the tent,” Starr said, but he believes there’s still a long way to go before local citizens are heard and respected for their concerns about wind turbine impacts.

Clark thanked the lawmakers for recognizing their citizens’ efforts.

She said it’s discouraging to try to talk with lawmakers in the Statehouse because there are so many lobbyists there. She would like to see a bill to require lobbyists to wear name tags.

There’s been attempts at a name tag law in the past, lawmakers said.

It takes years for lawmakers to know who is talking to who in the Statehouse, and what they are talking about, Young said.

But he confessed that he doesn’t always wear his own name tag.