Residents React With Shock To UPC Wind Turbine Plans
BY JEANNE MILES, Staff Writer
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
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UPC Files Notice For Wind Farm OK October 8, 2005
Wind Farm Tour Answers Sheffield Residents' Questions August 26, 2005
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Pros And Cons Of Wind Farms Heard At Forum July 28, 2005
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Task Force Takes Public Pulse October 5, 2004
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