The next governor…
could halt new wind projects in Vermont.
Opponents of a proposed wind turbine development on a Swanton hilltop beat a path to Montpelier this past session to fight for more say in siting such projects. They won a partial victory when lawmakers created a system by which towns may establish plans for where wind turbines and solar fields can be located.
But the deeply divisive debate rages on: Some see wind as the type of locally produced, clean energy the state needs; others argue that turbines scar the landscape and torment neighbors with sleep-depriving noise.
Depending on who is elected governor, Vermont may have seen its last wind project.
“I’m calling this election a referendum on wind,” said Galbraith, who stands apart from his Democratic rivals in seeking to halt all new industrial-scale wind development in the state.
While a governor needs legislative approval to alter state energy policy, whoever is elected will have a lot of influence on the outcome. Just a month after taking office, the governor will appoint a new chair of the Public Service Board, a position with considerable power in approving energy projects.
“I will not appoint anyone to the Public Service Board who will approve wind,” Galbraith said.
Lisman and Scott, the two Republicans, also want to stop wind development at least temporarily while rejiggering the permitting process. Neither said, however, that the issue should be a litmus test in appointing a PSB chair.
Democrat Dunne came out with a revised policy on wind siting last Friday that supporters of wind consider an almost-ban on future projects. It lost him the support of environmentalist Bill McKibben of Ripton.
“If a town says no to a large industrial wind project, I would use all the power of the governor’s office to ensure that is the end of the project,” Dunne said. “I will ensure that no means no.”
Minter, meanwhile, is not exactly championing new wind projects, but she supports the option. McKibben is now on her side.
“Wind is a part of the solution,” Minter said, while calling for a more customer-friendly Public Service Board. “I will be looking to hire someone who understands communities in Vermont.”
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