Wind farm proposal

February 6th, 2012 in Alternative Energy by 0 Comments

On Feb. 24, 2006, the town of Londonderry, Vt., held a non-binding Australian Ballot vote to gauge how residents felt about a pending wind farm proposal on Glebe Mountain. Some 638 votes were cast, and the result was 213 for and 425 against. Londonderry, a small mountain town in Windham County, has 1,200 voters on its checklist.

Glebe Mt. Wind Energy, a partnership between Catamount Energy and Japan-based Marubeni Power International, proposes to build 19 turbines of 420 feet each, generating 47.5 megawatts of electricity along the ridge of Glebe Mt. between the towns of Londonderry and Windham. Glebe Mt. Wind Energy is expected to file for state approval this month. Vermont state’s Public Service Board makes the ultimate decision about power generation and transmission projects.

Robert Charlebois, managing partner of Catamount Energy of Rutland, said the vote showed the public needed to learn more about the benefits of the proposed Glebe Mt project. Some of these local benefits include creation of jobs and tax revenues. Glebe Mt Wind Energy expects to pay about $1 million a year in property taxes. He also said that Catamount Energy only recently hired a Burlington public relations firm to get its message out. The Glebe Mountain Group, which opposes the project, poured funds into a sophisticated advertising campaign to defeat the referendum measure for months.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 21, Central Vermont Public Service, which serves many of the towns near Glebe Mt, notified state regulators of its intent to purchase the output of the proposed Glebe Mt. wind project. This 20-year agreement would expect to save CVPS’s customers up to $700,000 per year. If the Glebe Mt project is approved by the state board, CVPS will pay 95 percent of the market price for the electricity – which would serve local loads in Londonderry, Windham and surrounding towns.

Opponents say they are concerned with aesthetic issues, possible destruction of natural habitats and ecosystems, flashing lights, and the possibility the towers would drive away second home owners and tourists and constrain property values.

Supporters basically take the long view: Vermont’s population and subsequent energy needs are growing at an unprecedented rate. Wind energy would be a key part of any sustainable energy policy. They believe that any negative aesthetic or environmental effects would be small in comparison to the positive effects of a nonrenewable energy policy.

The Vermont Public Service Board will hold a series of local meetings before making a final decision. If the state board approves the wind project, construction would begin in 2007 and be completed in 2008.

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