HOLLAND – State approval of an industrial- sized wind turbine on a dairy farm in Holland will open the door to more turbines on farms and woodlots across the Northeast Kingdom, warns Northeastern Vermont Development Association. NVDA, acting in its role as the regional planning commissioner for the Northeast Kingdom, filed a comment Thursday in opposition to a 499-foot-tall turbine proposed for Dairy Air Farm.
Wind developer David Blittersdorf is seeking to erect the 2.2-megawatt turbine on the dairy farm about a mile from Holland’s elementary school. He has filed a petition for a certificate of public good with state utility regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board. The town of Holland is also opposed.
NVDA’s regional plan opposes the erection on any new industrial-sized wind turbines in the NEK. In the comment, NVDA executive director David Snedeker notes that the NEK already has 103 megawatts of wind power generation from turbines on Lowell Mountain and Sheffield Heights.
That more than exceeds the state’s targeted goals for renewable energy generation in 2050 in the NEK alone, according to NVDA statistics.
Many more turbines would permanently change the NEK’s open landscape if Dairy Air Wind receives a certificate of public good, Snedeker wrote.
“We are very concerned with the potential cumulative impact of projects like this on the NEK’s valued agricultural and scenic resources,” Snedeker stated.
“There are a large number of farms scattered throughout our region. Allowing projects like this one would essentially open the door for other owners of large parcels of land – farms or woodlots – to propose projects similar to this one and clearly interfere with the orderly development of the region.”
NVDA was initially neutral on wind projects but did research before updating the regional plan; the first industrial-sized turbines were erected here six years ago.
“The NVDA has first-hand experience with the divisiveness that accompanies wind projects and the damage that the projects visit on communities,” the regional plan states.
“The NVDA sees one clear benefit to industrial wind energy, one clear problem and a host of troubling questions,” according to the regional plan.
“The clear benefit is the tax relief that industrial-scale wind turbines bring to their host towns. The clear problem is the bitter divisions that wind brings to our communities.
“The troubling questions involved the unreliability of wind energy, the amount of energy produced versus the social and environmental disruption, the costliness of the electricity, and the dubiousness of the claims of environmental benefit.
“We are even more troubled by the potential impacts on human health” and other issues, NVDA’s energy plan states.
NVDA’s plan notes how troubling it is that municipal and regional plans can be overridden by developers with support of state regulators.
The wind project does not fit into either the updated local town plan or the regional plan, Snedeker writes.
NVDA is in the process of updating its regional plan to become compliant with the requirements of Act 174 and to obtain “substantial deference” before the Public Service Board involving siting of energy projects.
NVDA is working with the Department of Public Service to do this and to identify the region’s goals for renewable energy, which is already surpassed, Snedeker notes.
The Holland select board conducted a mail-in survey of voters and property taxpayers last fall. The results showed 314 were opposed to a turbine on a Holland farm, 59 were in favor and 44 were undecided.
Blittersdorf is also preparing to file a petition for a certificate of public good for two large turbines on his property on Kidder Hill, either in Irasburg or Lowell or one in either town.
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