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Fourth town opposes wind project

June 26, 2012

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20120626/NEWS01/706269840

Fourth town opposes wind project
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | June 26,2012
WEST RUTLAND — All four host towns for a proposed wind project are in agreement. They all oppose the project with West Rutland voting against it Monday night.In a 2-1 vote the town Select Board joined the towns of Castleton, Hubbardton and Pittsford in its opposition of Reunion Power’s project on the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline.

“As of this moment, the town of West Rutland opposes the wind project,” said acting chairman Nick Notte after the board voted 2-1 against the project.

Selectmen Chet Brown and Peter Bianchi voted to oppose the project, while Selectman Sean Barrows voted against the motion to oppose it. Selectman John Harvey recused himself from the discussion, citing a conflict of interest, while Notte did not vote, although voiced his opposition to the project.

“I don’t want to wait,” Notte said. “I want to stop this tonight. I am not for continuing to work with Reunion on this project.”

Brown, who made the motion, said he had every intention of seeking a townwide vote on the project before the meeting. But after listening to final comments from both sides on the issue, he decided waiting until August or November to vote would be too long.

“I was riding the fence,” Brown said. “I don’t think we should wait that long. I can’t wait until November. We have to take a stance. I am going to have to say ‘no’ to wind power.”

Bianchi agreed, but Selectman Barrows felt they needed to wait until to have a town-wide vote, as they had agreed to after Reunion Power’s meeting in May.

“I think we still need to honor that,” Barrows said. “I think they (Reunion Power) have the right to the process. … I don’t think we could have gotten the answers the first night they came to us.”

The board said although they have voted to oppose the project, they are still keeping the town plan open for review to amend the language on construction on the ridgeline.

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

Before the board’s vote, Town Manager Mary Ann Goulette read a letter sent to the board by Steve Eisenberg, project manager for Reunion Power, urging the board to reserve judgment until they have sufficient information to present to the board. He also said they believe there is support in West Rutland that will be heard in the upcoming weeks, adding it has been difficult to get people to come forward because of the current climate against the project.

Three people at the meeting voiced their support for the project, including Joe Giancola and Chris Wener, who complimented the opposition in its organization and efforts against the project and asked for a referendum vote in November.

“I have traveled around the world where there are turbines… and I have talked to the people that live there,” Wener said. “I am not finding people who are saying the same facts as you. … I can’t share the Kool-Aid of the fear.”

The board’s vote drew applause from dozens of residents who overflowed the meeting room into the Town Hall’s hallway.

lucia.suarez@rutlandherald.com

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