CASTLETON – Town officials have been invited to tour the site of a proposed single-turbine wind project to be built on Grandpa’s Knob.
The Grandpa’s Knob Community Wind Project first came into the public eye last fall when the developers behind it began talking to select boards and planning commissions in the towns the turbine might be visible in. Those include Castleton and Hubbardton for certain, with Rutland Town, Pittsford, West Rutland and Proctor also being approached.
The developer behind the project is David Blittersdorf, who has said he wants to build the 1.5 megawatt turbine to honor the late Palmer Putnam, who built the world’s first megawatt-sized wind turbine to be hooked up to the electric grid on Grandpa’s Knob in the 1940s.
The proposal has drawn a fair amount of public backlash, mainly from folks who recall a much larger project having been proposed by another developer back in 2012. That project would have involved approximately 20 turbines, but it was never permitted by the state.
Sam Carlson, manager for community relations for Grandpa’s Knob Community Wind Project, said Monday at the Select Board meeting that he was happy to provide a full update on the project, but his purpose that evening was to invite the board and Planning Commission, to visit the site itself.
He said the board and commission could then see where the turbine will be in relation to an existing communications tower, the condition of the access road, location of existing power lines, and exactly what area would be disturbed.
This idea was pitched last fall, he said, but by then the weather was making the road difficult to traverse.
“I was up on the knob last week,” said Carlson. “We can get up there. If there’s an interest from any members of the Select Board or the Planning Commission to go up and visit the site, we’re happy to do that.”
Select Board Chair Jim Leamy said the board is interested and would get back to Carlson about when and who would go.
Carlson noted that the state’s open meeting laws would affect how many members would want to attend.
“The landowner is concerned that we do not have huge numbers,” said Carlson. “There are sensitive, rare and endangered plants up there that we have to be careful about. I’m happy to work with (Town Manager Mike Jones). I’m trying to arrange a visit that doesn’t violate any meeting laws but also makes sure you guys get all the information that you need.”
Leamy said if only two members go, then there’s no quorum and no requirement for the meeting to be publicly warned.
When it was first proposed, Carlson said it would be at least a year and a half to two years before the company is ready to file for a permit.
The project will need a certificate of public good, issued by the Public Utility Commission, before it can be built.
The developers have said they want to share the profits from the turbine with the town’s impacted by its presence. Which towns and how this would be done hasn’t been worked out yet.
The developer has set up a website for the project, grandpasknobcommunitywind.com, where it posts updates on its progress. Its last update was posted April 1. According to the post, several independent technical studies have begun but were delayed by weather and the desire to not impact Vermont Association of Snow Travelers trails. It’s also working on environmental studies and talking to the Agency of Natural Resources. The project’s visual impacts are still being studied with results to come in the fall.
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