Saint Albans Messenger; November 10, 2015
Swanton residents, I am asking you to vote on 17 November. I AM ASKING YOU TO VOTE YES AND YES. A yes vote means you support the Swanton Selectboard’s recommendation against the large scale industrial wind project and a second yes means that you support local control for siting of large scale renewable energy projects.. GET OUT AND MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD. We need to send a strong message to the Public Service Board and to our Vermont elected officials.
I have been heavily involved in this issue and I have a few things I’d like to share. Much has been printed over the last few months and I AM MORE OPPOSED to this project now than I was six weeks ago. Here are a few reasons why:
Number 1: Our law that regulates large scale renewable projects needs to be changed. I attended a one day training session put on by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns on the 28th of October.
The session was focused on renewable energy siting and writing of town plans. It became obvious early in the session that the process for approving large scale renewable energy projects was out of control and it would take legislation to fix it. More clarity and better criteria need to be added to the law. I RECOMMEND THAT MORE CONTROL BE GIVEN TO LOCAL BOARDS OVER THE SITING OF THESE LARGE PROJECTS.
Number 2: THE GOVERNOR HAS STATED CONCERNS WITH THIS PROJECT. He said “….You will have difficulty getting those (referring to NE Kingdom and Franklin County projects)
into the grid without making EXTRAORDINARY INVESTMENTS to the grid THAT WILL COST VERMONT RATEPAYERS MONEY.” As this project is proposed, the Vermont ratepayers will be forced to pay these extraordinary investments. I believe that any extra costs to upgrade transmission lines should come from the developer.
Number 3: Green Mountain Power, Vermont Electric Cooperative, and Washington Electric Coop have all stated they do not support this project.
If these companies are saying they do not need or want the power from this project, then why would it be built? We have heard the transmission lines are not big enough and new lines “will cost Vermont ratepayers money.” How wrong is that – ratepayers paying additional money to ship this power out of state?
Number 4: The process does not allow for the concerns of a small community to be heard. The Public Service Board process of approving a certificate of public good is a formal one and involves hundreds of hours of lawyers’ and subject matter experts’ time to prepare an application. For a small community to oppose the project, it needs to hire lawyers and technical experts to challenge the attributes of the application. This could run a bill into the tens of thousands. IT IS UNREALISTIC TO EXPECT A SMALL COMMUNITY TO PAY THOSE COSTS.
Number 5: Response from the developer. The developer submitted a letter to the Swanton Select Board on 20 October 2015. In the letter, the developer states “The hasty call for a town-wide vote on a project whose details have yet to be finalized gives us little hope of a fair result…..” I STRONGLY OBJECT TO SUCH AN ABSURD STATEMENT. The forty five day notice had plenty of detail in it. It told us the site details to include access, the number of the turbines, the approximate size of the turbines, the proposed location of the turbines, the number of jobs the project would create and the tax revenue that would be generated over the lifetime of the project. How much more do we need before we can make an informed opinion?
On November 17th the voters of the Town of Swanton will have their chance to make their voices heard regarding the proposed Swanton Industrial Wind Project and local control for siting of large scale renewable energy projects. VOTE YES TO OPPOSE THE SWANTON WIND PROJECT AND VOTE YES FOR LOCAL CONTROL OVER LARGE SCALE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT SITING. PLEASE GET OUT TO VOTE.
Thank you in advance for your interest in this matter,
Joel Clark, Vice Chair Swanton Select Board Chair Swanton Development Review Board