IRASBURG – The Irasburg Select Board announced Thursday that the town will successfully demand a say in opposing the planned siting of two large wind turbines on Kidder Hill, even if the turbines are located over the town line in Lowell.
On Dec. 23, developer David Blittersdorf filed the required 45-day notice of intent to petition the Vermont Public Service Board for a certificate of public good for an industrial-scale wind project on his Kidder Hill property, which sits in Lowell and Irasburg.
The 2.5-megawatt wind turbines would each be 499 feet tall on Kidder Hill, Irasburg’s dominant ridgeline, just west of town. The turbines could be located both in Lowell, both in Irasburg or one in each town, according to the notice.
On Oct. 1, 2015, Irasburg voted 274 to 9 not to allow industrial wind turbines on the town’s ridgelines.
Meanwhile, Lowell voters supported the erection of 21 turbines now operating on the Lowell ridgeline. And Lowell selectmen have indicated that they would welcome two more wind turbines in the town.
Irasburg selectmen say that Act 174, the state’s new energy siting law, will give Irasburg a say in the siting of wind turbines in the adjacent town of Lowell.
Irasburg Select Board Chairman David Warner, in a statement issued Thursday, noted that adjacent municipalities have the right to participate in siting decisions if the turbines are to be located within a distance of 500 feet or 10 times the height of the facility, whichever is greater.
That provision makes Irasburg a participant in energy siting decisions for proposed sites in Lowell within a distance of 4,990 feet, or .95 miles, from Irasburg.
“Many people believe that if Irasburg opposes industrial wind development on the Kidder Hill ridgeline, the developer could simply move the towers a few feet to the Lowell side of the town line,” Warner said.
“However, the towers would have to move nearly a mile away from Irasburg before our town would lose its participation in the siting decision. The Legislature included that provision in Act 174 precisely for situations like this.”
In Thursday’s statement, the Irasburg Select Board defined its position on the siting of renewable energy projects within the town.
“Energy projects in Irasburg must proceed based on the principles of respect for the environment, sound economics and regard for community values,” Warner stated. “Because industrial-scale wind turbines on the town’s ridgelines do not meet all of these criteria, the town of Irasburg opposes their development. “
Warner noted that voters petitioned the selectmen to oppose the project.
“The select board stands with Gov. Phil Scott in our commitment to working towards energy efficiency and renewable energy goals without destroying our ridgelines,” Selectman Mark Collette said.
The select board emphasized that Irasburg’s dedication to preserving the town’s ridgelines from development by industrial wind should not be viewed as a rejection of renewable energy development or as a denial of the need to address global climate change.
“Irasburg supports the development and use of residential- and community-scale renewable energy projects that meet these criteria,” newly appointed Selectman David Lahar said.
But he said townsfolk expect developers to respect Vermont’s environment, local community values and economy, not the environmental benefit for someone in Connecticut.
Connecticut has considered buying the energy from the turbines.
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