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Swanton wind project developers to go before public

Developers of a proposed seven-turbine wind project in Swanton will respond in person to questions from the public at a workshop Jan. 3, according to a Public Service Board order.

The workshop is not meant to give the developers – Travis and Ashley Belisle, of St. Albans – an opportunity to advocate for the project, the board said in its order Monday.

The workshop is not a public hearing. The board’s first public hearing on the project is scheduled for the week of July 17.

The Belisles plan as many as seven turbines atop Rocky Ridge, which sits on the other side of Interstate 89 from St. Albans. The turbines are meant to generate up to 20 megawatts of electricity.

Some nearby residents say the development will cause numerous harms, including driving down property values and causing illness. Former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who lives nearby, has sought to persuade the Federal Aviation Administration that the project represents a danger to pilots, and his wife ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature this year – motivated, she said, by an aversion to wind turbines in Vermont.

Mainstream peer-reviewed research has yet to establish a link between wind turbines and illness. Studies have found, however, that turbine opponents often suffer greater distress once the structures are built than others.

Board members suggested that people who want to comment on the project first become familiar with the criteria the board must use to evaluate it, found between pages 14 and 17 in the board’s “Citizen’s Guide to the Vermont Public Service Board’s Section 248 Process.”

The board’s order also suggests reading up on the case to prepare questions in advance.

The workshop is at 5 p.m. in the Missisquoi Valley Union High School Auditorium. The Public Service Board said it intends to vacate the building before 10 p.m., for the sake of school staff.