Posted By Terri Hallenbeck on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 9:30 AM
The project, which would be constructed near the Swanton-St. Albans line off Vermont 105, could be nearly twice the size of the Georgia Mountain wind project. It is the first wind project proposed in northwest Vermont since the Georgia turbines began operating in 2012.
All industrial wind projects built in Vermont in recent years, including those in Georgia, Lowell and Sheffield, have generated opposition from neighbors — making for protracted legal and regulatory battles. In some cases, developers have bought the homes of opponents. In others, the project has lowered neighboring property assessments.
Belisle, who also lives near the proposed project, said he expected resistance, but thinks that with education, people will come around. Belisle declined to say whether he has investors for the project. “I can’t get into that,” he said.
Belisle has hired Martha Staskus, a wind developer with Vermont Environmental Associates in Waterbury, to work on the project. She also developed the Georgia Mountain project.
Belisle said he conducted wind measurements over the last couple of years and determined there is sufficient wind speed. Studies are being conducted on the project’s environmental impacts, including on bat and bear habitats, Staskus said. The next step will be to apply to the Vermont Public Service Board for a permit.
Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, who has led opposition to large wind projects in Vermont, said she doesn’t believe this project will win approval. While the board green-lighted projects in Georgia, Lowell and Sheffield, she contended that it will be compelled to require tougher noise standards in the future.
She added that the closer proximity to homes will also be a barrier. “Nobody lives closer than about 3,000 feet from a wind turbine that the PSB has allowed to be erected,” she said.