WINDHAM, Vt. – Could millions of dollars get voters in two Vermont towns to sign on to a massive wind development?
Some are calling it a bribe and others say it’s exactly what a chunk of southern Vermont needs. Wednesday night people on both sides of the debate turned out to hear the details behind the latest offer.
For a while, Grafton resident Randy Lockerby was unsure if he could get behind building Vermont’s largest wind farm in his town.
“Like anything, there are pros and cons to everything,” said Lockerby
He says some of his neighbors are worried about the environmental impacts this project could cause and the eyesore it would create on the scenic mountain ridges in Grafton and nearby Windham. Lockerby says they’re getting pushy.
The aggressive way they spread their opinion however disgusted Lockerby.
“I don’t like being told how to be. And that’s what these people are trying to do. They’re trying to persuade everybody,” said Lockerby.
That’s why Lockerby decided to support the plans for wind and he’s created his own signs to counter the ones against the wind farm he sees around town.
Iberdrola Renewables hosted two public meetings this week to try to persuade people in Grafton and Windham to get behind the development.
“We are incorporating some changes that have been suggested. Most of that pertains to changing the footprint of the project to make it smaller,” said Paul Copleman from Iberdrola Renewables.
The Spanish company is shrinking what was slated to be 28 wind turbines down to 24.
The new proposal also call for the towns to split $1.5 million a year for the life of the turbines to either pay for community services or bring down taxes that’s up from the original $1 million offer.
“It’s a nice perk and it’s really nice because they’ve given it to us before we actually voted on it in Windham or here in Grafton,” said Kent Armstrong.
At peak capacity, the company says the turbines could power thousands of homes both in and out of Vermont.
Not all residents are sold saying they feel bribed.
“I’m not totally against green energy. It just needs to be proper and safe,” said Catherine Siano-Goodwin.
Many at the Grafton meeting say it’s not a good fit for the area and, according to select board member John Turner, the risks outweigh the benefits.
“It’s bad math, it’s bad science. If there were something that were more reasonable sized in place, I could very much be behind that. But this is the wrong scale. The wrong place,” said Turner.
If both Windham and Grafton voters give the project the green light on November 8 developers say the turbines could be spinning as early as 2019.
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