The Caledonian-Record Online News

Residents React With Shock To UPC Wind Turbine Plans


Wednesday October 12, 2005

Reaction to a Massachusetts wind developer's plans for a large, commercial wind farm in Sheffield and Sutton has been one of surprise and shock, especially for residents of Sutton.

"I had no idea," Bob Michaud, chairman of the Sutton Planning Commission, said Tuesday. "Nobody from UPC contacted the planning board. There never has been any formal presentation in Sutton as there was in Sheffield."

UPC Vermont Wind sent formal notice Friday to the towns of Sheffield and Sutton of its intentions to seek approval from the Vermont Public Service Board to install between 20 and 35 industrial wind turbines on ridge lines in the two towns. According to the plans, 20 turbines will be installed between Hardscrabble Mountain, Granby Mountain and Libby Hill in Sheffield. The wind farm will then extend along a ridge line to Norris Mountain in Sutton where six more turbines are planned.

"I was shocked," Sutton resident Carol Brouha said Tuesday. "This is a classic case of project creep. It just keeps spreading."

Brouha and her husband, Paul, oppose the Sheffield project and have rallied others, resulting in the formation of the Ridge Protectors. The group has printed signs that read: "Save Our Ridgeline, Learn the Facts." These signs have been popping up on lawns all over the region.

The fact that six turbines are now planned for Sutton and that they are 50 feet taller than people were told by UPC project manager Tim Caffyn at informational meetings, has Brouha fuming.

"This is not what has been said since the measurement towers went up in 2002," she said. "This is a warning to all the towns which will get the full impact" - towns like Glover, Barton and Sutton, she added.

Caffyn said Monday the turbines described in the plans are taller because UPC may have to buy from a manufacturer other than General Electric.

"There is a big run on GE turbines," he said. "They're hard to get a hold of and we may have to go to different turbines which are taller."

But, he added, his company would rather buy from GE.

Caffyn also said he did meet with Sutton selectmen about two years ago and the possibility of turbines in that town were mentioned.

"It was not an encouraging meeting," Caffyn said. "They didn't seem interested."

Town Clerk Dorreen Devenger said she remembers Caffyn coming to a meeting a "long time ago," but does not recall wind towers in Sutton being discussed. Caffyn seemed more interested in how the board would react to turbines in neighboring Sheffield, she said.

Selectman Tim Simpson said he could not remember what was talked about at that meeting, but added that no one from UPC has approached the board about Norris Mountain.

Caffyn said his company decided to expand into Sutton because Vermont utilities are anxious to buy the power.

"The more we talked with Vermont utilities, the more we heard that is needed because the cost of power is so high," he said. "They're eager to work with us."

Sutton adopted a new town plan this summer that prohibits industrial development on ridge lines.

"We'll see if we have local control or if it will be decided elsewhere," Michaud said. "At this point, I'm not sure what our options are."

Meeting Oct. 18

The subject will be discussed at the commission's next meeting Oct. 18, Michaud said. Simpson said Caffyn plans to come to the selectman's meeting Oct. 27.

And in Sheffield, Town Clerk Kathy Newland said a special meeting will be held as soon as possible as requested by residents at a recent meeting of the board of selectmen. Newland said the vote would not be binding, but rather a way to see how people feel.

Related Stories in the Caledonian-Record (does any of this sound familiar?):

Sheffield Voters Support UPC Project By A Narrow Margin   December 2, 2005
Sheffield Planners Hear Details Of UPC Vermont Wind Project   November 18, 2005
Ski Area's Objection To Test Tower Reveals Little Of Plans   November 8, 2005
Numbers Not In Yet On Sheffield Windmill Project   November 3, 2005
UPC Files Notice For Wind Farm OK   October 8, 2005
Wind Farm Tour Answers Sheffield Residents' Questions   August 26, 2005
Residents Perceive Wind Power Bias   August 4, 2005
Pros And Cons Of Wind Farms Heard At Forum   July 28, 2005
Wind Power Videos Power Pro, Con Arguments   July 21, 2005
Wind Opponents Want United Front   July 7, 2005
DPS Urges Closer Look At Wind Project   June 30, 2005
24 Turbines Planned Around Hardscrabble Mountain   June 24, 2005
Both Sides In Wind Controversy Confident   March 24, 2005
Long Week Expected At Wind Hearing   March 15, 2005
Plans For Wind Power Polarize Vermont   March 14, 2005
Task Force Takes Public Pulse   October 5, 2004
Town May Have Wind Towers In Its Future   July 12, 2004
Will Vermont Become The Pinwheel State?   January 31, 2004
LED, Wind Farm Come To Terms   January 20, 2004
Wind Farm Opponents To PSB: 'Slow Down!'   January 14, 2004
Wind Farm Permitting To Start With Hearing   December 30, 2003
Residents Say No To Wind   November 5, 2003
Stand Urged On Wind Farms   November 4, 2003
Wind Farm Nearing Application Process   November 1, 2003
Selectmen Endorse Proposed Wind Farm   October 16, 2003
Survey Says: Residents Want Wind Farm   October 8, 2003
Opposition To Wind Farms On The Rise   September 10, 2003
Task Force To Study Wind Farm Effects Urged   September 5, 2003
Wind Power Could Save LED Big Bucks   August 19, 2003
Use Of Public Lands For Wind Towers   January 27, 2003
Wind Measurement Tower Proposed   December 17, 2002
Illuzzi Application Raises Neighbors' Ire   April 10, 2002
Visitors Ascend To Mountaintop For Look At Radar Base   March 11, 2002
More Plans For Old Radar Base   February 25, 2002

Lawyer's Pay Adds To Wind Debate   November 26, 2005
Wind Opponents Want NVDA To Change NEK Regional Plan   November 4, 2005
Concern Over Wind Towers Grows Strong In Sutton   October 19, 2005
High Winds Topple Illuzzi's Windmill   October 18, 2005
Residents Clash Over Wind Farm   October 6, 2005
Opponents Report Many Sheffield Residents Against Wind Project   October 3, 2005
Border Farm To Construct Windmill For Electric Power   September 15, 2005
Citizens Examine A Comparison Between Searsburg And Sheffield   August 27, 2005
LED Seeking To Upgrade Its Transmission Lines For Wind Project   April 20, 2005
Windmill Deemed Not Tall Enough   April 13, 2005
Opponents Use Petitions To Fight Wind Farm   December 4, 2004
Wind Gauge Opponents Sound Off   October 21, 2004
Wind Farm Tour Covers Much Ground   October 14, 2004
Wind Power Hearing Set For Oct. 26   October 1, 2004
Strong Opposition To Wind Turbines   March 29, 2004
Proposed Wind Towers Get Chilly Reception   February 13, 2004
Wind Farm Files For Permit   November 18, 2003
All Thoughts Aired About Wind Farm   September 30, 2003
Wind Power Task Force In Offing   September 26, 2003
Pols Weigh In On Wind Power   September 19, 2003
International Wind Company Eyes Town   August 13, 2003
Illuzzi Urges Moratorium On Wind Turbines   August 7, 2003
Wind Towers Spark Debate   July 1, 2003
Wind Turbine OK'd   March 25, 2003
Wind Test Towers In Lowell Near Approval   February 4, 2003
Illuzzis' Wind Turbine Proposal Debated, Again   May 27, 2002
Wind Experiment Dream Reaches New Height   October 12, 1998