Saint Albans Messenger; August 12, 2016
Swanton Wind stated at their press conference on Thursday, September 8th that they were filing their petition for a Certificate of Public Good for their Industrial Wind Project. They also announced that they are offering to buy out 20 homes within 3000 feet of the turbines. This is tacit admission that it will be impossible to live that close to the wind project. In the wind industry, this is referred to as a Property Value Guarantee. People living near a proposed wind project are concerned about their property values – for most people, their house is their biggest investment. For properly sited wind projects, a Property Value Guarantee is a way for the project to show that it is going to be a good neighbor.
There are a few things wrong with what we have heard so far about the Swanton Wind buyout. The buyout should be at pre-project prices based on comparables that are not near a wind project. If neighbors are concerned about their property values, then show them that you aren’t concerned about value dropping by being willing to pay what it is worth now. That would be putting your money where your mouth is. That would show true faith in your project.
But, Swanton Wind told reporters that the buyout would be at Post Construction prices – that is not a Property Value Guarantee that assures your most precious investment is going to hold its value. What that means is that if your value declines by 20% or even 50%, then that is all you will get for your home. But, hey, the developer will pay that depressed price.
Will they pay moving costs for these neighbors? What about the family lives that they are disrupting with this buyout scam? What about the fact that people don’t want to leave their homes and their neighborhood? Should entire neighborhoods be forced to relocate? Are they trying to send us out of our idyllic rural locations and into cities? So many questions and once again, no answers from Swanton Wind.
When will we get details on this supposed buyout from Swanton Wind? Or was this just talk for the press? We have few details behind that ‘offer’, because they have not talked to us and the PSB did not receive the filing last week.
Why 3000’? Is that 3000’ to the property line? Everyone complaining the most around the current operating wind projects lives further away than 3000 feet. How did they come up with that number? Who is included and who is excluded? What about the home that is 3100 feet from a Swanton Wind turbine who is affected? Too bad for them?
One point they make in their buyout section that we found as a screen shot in a news story is that the well must be tested for potable water, paid for by the property owner. Why is that? We all have potable water now, so what are they concerned about? If they affect our water supply, then the deal is off ? Same for radon. An appraisal also has to be paid for by the property owner, conveniently done by someone chosen from a list provided by the developer. Swanton Wind will also choose the realtor and who will pay the realtor fees? The homeowner who is being forced to give up their home?
And what is the cost to this? Let’s do some math. Say Swanton Wind buys out 20 homes for the undervalued price of $250K. Multiply that by 20 and you get $5 million. That’s millions more dollars that they can sacrifice on this project. What does that tell you? This has nothing to do with green energy, this is all about green backs!
What about the measly $150,000 per year provided to Town of Swanton? Take those same 20 homes who no longer pay taxes on average of $5K and you’ve lost most of that “revenue”, not to mention the other homes in the area that will have their tax rate reduced because of this unnecessary, destructive project.
We’ve been waiting for over a year now for anything from Swanton Wind to help us alleviate our concerns with the project. This buyout only adds to the stress and anxiety that Swanton Wind has brought to our community since July 2015.
Swanton Wind says they are doing this for their town, the same town that voted 731 to 160 against this project. Their attorney says there is a silent majority for this project that just didn’t go out to vote. Really? I saw Swanton Wind going door to door before the town vote. Were they unable to rally more than 160 supporters to go vote?
Swanton Wind’s buy-out proposal is a public relations ploy and we’re not buying it.
Christine Lang, Swanton