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Community raises concerns about proposed wind power project in Castleton

A new wind turbine proposed for Grandpa’s Knob in Castleton is giving some people deja vu.

In 2012, Castleton and surrounding towns dealt with a proposal for 20 turbines along the ridgeline there. Back then, the Castleton Select Board unanimously opposed the project.

Now, multiple select boards are listening to a new presentation for only one turbine. But many in the community are already against it.

“We’re still healing from that from 10 years ago. And when I first heard this was being proposed, it was honestly like a gut punch that we had to go through this again,” said Lisa Wright of West Rutland, one of the affected towns.

Wright says those opposing the turbine say it is against her town’s plans, it divides the communities and brings detrimental noise and environmental issues. The opposition group also feels the developers have not been forthcoming, receiving the state’s renewable energy standard offer award last week before speaking with all towns.

But Joe Mark, a Castleton Select Board member says Sam Carlson, a spokesperson for the Grandpa’s Knob Community Wind Project has been in communication.

“He was eager to work with the town to kind of design a public input process so he could explain things to citizens and they could express their reservations or concerns,” Mark said.

“We want to be entirely transparent with the communities about this project,” Carlson said.

Carlson says the purpose of this turbine is to honor Palmer Putnam, the man who built the world’s first wind turbine connected to the grid on Grandpa’s Knob in 1941.

“That’s what Palmer Putnam would like. That’s honoring, that a living monument if you will, which is different than having some piece of marble,” Carlson said.

But signs around town prove community members are not open to the turbine.

I spoke with about a dozen people in Castleton and West Rutland, only one was in favor of the turbine that would be put up on Grandpa’s Knob. Most people fear that if one goes up, that will open the door to two, three, who knows how many more.

“If you’re doing a commercial wind project you’re trying to make as much money as you can. You’re in commerce, right. If it was an industrial wind project, well it would be really big, right. Well, this is a single turbine,” Carlson said.

Carlson says the project is part of Vermont’s renewable energy program, backed by Vermont investors, it will work with a Vermont bank and use Vermonters to build the turbine.

Permits will not be filed for another 9-12 months after environmental and sound issues are analyzed.