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3rd town votes to oppose wind farm

June 21, 2012

3rd town votes to oppose wind farm

By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | June 21,2012
PITTSFORD — Following on the heels of Castleton and Hubbardton, officials in Pittsford took a stand Wednesday night against the proposed industrial wind project on the Grandpa’s Knob.

In a unanimous vote, the five-member Select Board resolved to oppose the Reunion Power wind project. The decision was met by a round of applause from dozens of residents who overflowed the meeting room into the town office hallway.

Pittsford is the third town to take a stand against the ridgeline project that spans four towns. Only the town of West Rutland has yet to take a position, although town officials there recently said they expect to make one soon.

Pittsford assistant board chairman Allen Hitchcock, who made the motion, said it is critical for all the affected towns to coordinate and make sure all of their town plans have the same criteria prohibiting wind power construction on the ridgeline.

“It is critically important that the four towns work together … so that a Reunion Power does not come in the future and exploit our ridgelines,” he said.

Reunion Power, with offices in Manchester and New Jersey, has proposed building and managing a 20-turbine wind farm on the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline. The $100 million project could produce up to 50 megawatts of energy and distribute up to $1 million annually to the four towns in form of state Education Fund payments and host-town payments.

Before the board’s vote Wednesday, Robert Howland, a Pittsford resident and wind power consultant for Reunion Power, urged the board not to act and allow the developers to present a complete project. He said the developers believe there is support for the project in all the towns.

“We feel the pendulum will swing,” he told the Select Board. “Our planet does not care for rhetoric. It only cares about what we do, or don’t, put into it.”

Pittsford residents made a final plea to board members, urging them to show some leadership and oppose the project.

Although he voted to oppose the project, Selectman Joe Gagnon said the board was jumping the gun without having all the information necessary to make the decision. Although he did not think it would have changed his position, he would have preferred the board to wait until after next week’s informational meeting about the state approval process.

“I want my facts,” Gagnon said. “I want to know how the Public Service Board operates.”

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