PROCTOR – The developers behind the Grandpa’s Knob Community Wind project believe their proposal is special enough to warrant an exemption to the five town plans, and regional plan, that go against it.
Sam Carlson, community relations for Grandpa’s Knob Community Wind, a project backed by solar developer David Blittersdorf, was before the select boards in Proctor and Castleton talking about the project on Oct. 25.
It was his first time presenting it to Proctor; his second in Castleton. He’s been to the select boards in Hubbardton, West Rutland and Pittsford.
The single turbine, 1.5 megawatt project is a year away from filing for a permit with the Public Utility Commission, a process that could take up to a year, according to Carlson. The tower would be just under 300 feet high with 143 foot blades. Half of the project’s net profits would be distributed to the affected towns per some as-yet-to-be-determined agreement between them, according to the plan.
Carlson said the project is being done mainly to commemorate a wind turbine built on Grandpa’s Knob in the 1940s, which was the first wind turbine of that size to be hooked to an electrical grid.
Carlson said the company isn’t looking to make a profit, but still wants to meet its costs.
The proposal has drawn skepticism and protest from the community. Some members don’t see much difference between it and a 20-turbine project proposed along that same ridgeline in 2012.
Blittersdorf was not the developer behind that larger project, a fact he and Carlson have stressed at public meetings.
Carlson’s presentation was similar to ones he’s given previously, except now there are maps showing where the turbine might be visible from. Carlson said more visual simulations will have to be done, but right now it appears the project will be visible from Lake Bomoseen and the Hubbardton Battlefield, Corn Hill Road in Pittsford, and parts of West Rutland. None would be visible from Proctor, as suggested by the latest analysis
Carlson said he plans to update the towns on a regular, monthly basis with information about the project. He also plans to go before the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, as well as local environmental groups such as the Audubon Society.
Asked in Proctor about the project’s non-conformance with town plans, Carlson said the developer feels the project’s merits warrant an exception.
“We understand that it is not in conformance with the town plan, it is not in conformance with the Castleton plan, it’s not in conformance with the Rutland Regional Plan … or West Rutland, or Proctor,” he said. “We believe that the specifics of this project, the fact that there is already a road, that there are already power lines, that there is already a 310-foot communications tower up there that doesn’t seem to pose any problem, that the specifics of this project constitute an exception to all of these plans. I would urge us to go beyond what’s in the town plan, look at the specifics and say, what are the benefits and what are the costs.”
Residents have expressed skepticism about the state of the road leading to the project site. Carlson did say in Proctor that some of the road’s turns might have to be widened, but added he doesn’t believe anything more substantial would be needed.
According to Carlson, the company is happy to agree that it won’t propose anymore wind turbines near this one. He acknowledged people’s concerns about other developers using the lone turbine’s permit as justification to build more, but claimed that the state Agency of Natural Resources will be unlikely to approve, given its disapproval of the 2012 proposal.
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