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Grafton not ready for November vote on wind development

The town of Grafton will not hold a public vote this November on a proposed 28-turbine wind development.

The Spanish energy company Iberdrola Renewables says it wants to build the 96.6-megawatt project on a plateau along the Windham-Grafton town line.

The company hoped both towns would vote on its proposed wind project this November.

Windham scheduled a vote for Election Day, but Grafton Select Board Chairman Ron Pilette says his town isn’t ready for a vote.

“We’re late on this, because Windham’s been working hard at this for literally four years,” Pilette says. “But in Grafton, for whatever reasons, for a good three years, not much was happening. And there wasn’t a sense of urgency. That’s only started within the last year or so.”

Pilette says Vermont’s new energy siting law gives towns a say in where renewable energy projects can be built if the towns have updated town plans.

Grafton is working on its town plan, and so Pilette says the board doesn’t want to hold a vote until the plan is in place.

The Grafton board will instead put together an informal poll that will be sent to full-time residents and second home owners.

In an email message, Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman says the company continues to stress the importance of only allowing full-time Grafton residents to vote on the wind development.

“We continue to believe that a fair vote by Grafton’s registered voters is an important step to move the project forward,” Copleman wrote. “We look forward to working with the town to give a voice to those who want to fight climate change responsibly and create local economic benefits.”

According to the company’s timeline, Iberdrola hoped to file a petition with the Public Service Board some time in 2017.

Copleman declined to comment on whether the company would apply for a state permit next year without results from votes in both towns.