Rutland County wind project stuck in limbo

The developer of the proposed Grandpa’s Knob Windpark in Rutland County has canceled easement agreements with surrounding landowners.

The developer, Reunion Power, sent letters to the towns of Pittsford and West Rutland last week saying it had terminated access agreements with property owners. The two towns are located on the east side of the proposed 20-turbine, 50 megawatt project to span Pittsford Ridge.

It’s unclear whether the Grandpa’s Knob project will proceed. Reunion Power, which has offices in Manchester Center and New Jersey, did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

Pittsford Town Manager John Haverstock said some of the town’s residents worry mountaintop development will harm the area’s unique wildlife habitat and natural beauty.

In an April 2012 letter, the Agency of Natural Resources said the “site has exceptional ecological values, and that a commercial wind energy project constructed and operated at this location will result in an undue adverse effect on the natural environment and cannot be mitigated.”

Annette Smith, executive director Vermonters for a Clean Environment, a group opposing ridgeline wind projects, said the canceling of the easements means the developer would have to start from scratch to move the project forward.

The proposed project, which is located on the same mountaintop where Vermont’s first utility wind turbine once stood, marks the most recent setback to wind power in the state.

The Seneca Mountain Wind project is the latest proposed large-scale ridgeline wind project in the Northeast Kingdom. Last month, the Unified Towns and Gores in Essex County voted against a proposed 60-megawatt wind project in Ferdinand.

The developer of the project, Eolian Renewable Energy, of Portsmouth, N.H., is deciding what to do next.

“I can’t say yes, we’re moving forward with the project. I can’t say no, we’re not moving forward with the project,” Seneca Wind Project Manager John Soininen said Monday.

He said the state needs to set clear guidance for energy development. When the state decides what it wants, he said, “we will certainly come out with a press release.”

Ninety percent of Vermont’s energy needs must supplied by renewable sources by the year 2050, according to the state’s Comprehensive Energy Plan.

The goal offers little guidance for developers, Soininen said.

“If Vermont, in fact, wants to get anywhere even slightly close to 90 percent renewable by 2015, then projects like Seneca Mountain Wind project are going to have to move forward,” he said. “That’s a simple fact.”

Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, said local concerns over these project sends a poor message to renewable energy developers and, as a result, companies will likely look to other states to set up projects.

“I think that were just in a period of adjustment in terms of build-out of any of the new (energy) generation sources,” he said. “Not just wind. You’re seeing some heartburn over solar as well. And we certainly have heartburn when it comes to biomass and even hydro.”

He said he doesn’t expect the resistance to last forever. Developers and utilities will adapt to consumer demand, he said.

Iberdrola Renewables, a company headquartered in Spain, has placed three meteorological (MET) towers – two in Windham and one in Grafton – on land owned by the New Hampshire forestry company Meadowsend Timberlands. If the site is used for a wind project, it would be Windham County’s first utility-scale wind project.

The Deerfield Wind project received a certificate of public good for a 45-megawatt wind project. The project would place up to 24 wind turbines on about 80 acres of Green Mountain National Forest land in Searsburg and Readsboro.

John Herrick

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20 Comments on "Rutland County wind project stuck in limbo"

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Matt Fisken
1 year 11 months ago

Tony Klein’s use of “heartburn” to describe the increasingly common response residents of Vermont and New Hampshire are having to ugly, speculative, health-damaging infrastructure being force fed to them is pretty good. He seems hopeful that a steady diet of junk energy and antacids will make everyone happy in the end.

Annette Smith
1 year 11 months ago

And who knows what this developer needs to admit it’s over. He seems to want to keep the heartburn active, even though he doesn’t have a single easement left.

The Rutland Herald got him to respond to an email:

“Steve Eisenberg of Reunion Power responded to an email Monday afternoon. “I can confirm to you that easement agreement termination notices have been filed,” Eisenberg said. “However, we have no other comments or statements that we wish to make at this time.””

1 year 11 months ago

Heartburn is what you get from a nothingburger!

But seriously, folks:

It parallels, albeit in rather crude physical terms, the heartache I feel every time I see the monstrosities, and think about the suffering families.

1 year 11 months ago

Ellen,

In LIMBO is a much better place than on any ridgeline.

Rob Pforzheimer
1 year 11 months ago

The Agency of Natural Resources said this site in Rutland county, ” has exceptional ecological values, and that a commercial wind energy project constructed and operated at this location will result in an undue adverse effect on the natural environment and cannot be mitigated.”
When is the ANR going to come out with a similar statement about the Senecas, that are of at least the same, if not more, exceptional ecological value?

Byron Dolan
1 year 11 months ago

That will happen when the Senecas are moved out of the Northeast Kingdom.

Annette Smith
1 year 11 months ago

Not to mention Lowell. The Pittsford Ridge is a beautiful mountain, but having been on both, I have yet to see anything as extraordinary as what was the Lowell mountains ecosystem. “Was” is the operative word because it is no longer. I still don’t understand how the ecologists let that mountain go. The only defense they offered was that a housing development would be more destructive than the wind project. But nobody would ever get approval to build a housing development up there, with much of it above 2500 feet. And yes, the silence from ANR on the Seneca Mountain… Read more »

Byron Dolan
1 year 11 months ago

As many readers here know, the Lowell mountains were sacrificed for no purpose other than enriching industry coffers and political ambition. I grew up searching for straying heifers and birthing cows on the Lowell mountains and I now live in the shadow of the KCW boondoggle. Let the destruction and greed end here.

Wayne Andrews
1 year 11 months ago

These are the same ANR folks who are lobbying for H 586 which will require a municipality to obtain a hydraulic study before changing out any highway culvert be it 12 inches in diameter or 12 feet.

Don Peterson
1 year 11 months ago

What is hydro quebec if not a source of renewable energy?

I made a little video of what happens when the towers come to your town:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmbmau-49MaeB0dM1Szn-vg

The production values aren’t “Chittenden County Flack” standard, but the message is heartfelt. Save your mountains, because your government won’t do it for you.

1 year 11 months ago

Klein: “I think that were just in a period of adjustment in terms of build-out of any of the new (energy) generation sources,” he said. “Not just wind. You’re seeing some heartburn over solar as well. And we certainly have heartburn when it comes to biomass and even hydro.” My Lord, how obtuse can one be? Just look at the actual performance Klein’s RE projects; they are total failures. The wind and solar projects are a total waste of about $500 million, with practically nothing to show for it, i.e., they advanced Vermont just 1.65% towards the goal of 90%… Read more »

1 year 11 months ago

Rep. Klein says he’s worried about “local communities” sending a poor message to big wind and solar developers. It seems that Rep Klein, the peoples’ representative, who is unwilling to listen to the neighbors has now developed a serious case of hearing impairment. He has a serious hearing problem if he thinks it’s only the local communities that are sending a message and its only being sent to the developers. Well, here’s news for Rep Klein and his allies, the message on industrial wind and solar he hears and fears is coming from all around the state. What’s more, it’s… Read more »

1 year 11 months ago

Peter, Vermont has been shamelessly scammed by wind energy promoters from Shumlin on down. Is testimony given under oath to the PSB? If not, quite a few testifiers appear to be guilty of perjury, appear to be making statements they knew to be lies. No one is investigating? Winds on ridgelines are MEDIOCRE, as stated in official government documents, not self-serving reports, such as the CEA report and the VPIRG “Repowering Vermont” report, which the Coalition for Energy Solutions severely criticized several years ago, i.e., not worth the paper it was printed on. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/2012_wind_technologies_market_report.pdf SPEED and ridgeline wind, about $500… Read more »

1 year 11 months ago

“In an April 2012 letter, the Agency of Natural Resources said the ‘site has exceptional ecological values, and that a commercial wind energy project constructed and operated at this location will result in an undue adverse effect on the natural environment and cannot be mitigated.'” Wait a minute! Can’t the same be said for the Grafton and Windham plaguefield site? (“Plaguefield” is a word I just made up. It has a fourteenth-century ring to it, as in, “The Black Plague.” As in, a return to feudalism: “One large landowner trumps a thousand serfs. You serfs can take it and like… Read more »

Kim Fried
1 year 11 months ago

What about a Govenor who promises Vermont citizens he will honor a no vote by a town not wishing to host industrial ridgeline wind turbines? Where has he gone, excuse me Las Vegas.

1 year 11 months ago

Kim,

He will be swinging by a USAF base to listen to his favorite sound, F-35s taking off.

Never mind that base is far from any people, instead of near Burlington.

Federal subsidy money makes people do irrational things.

1 year 11 months ago

Is he staying at the Wynds Encore or the Tar Sands? Bright light city gonna set my soul Gonna set my soul on fire Got a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn, So get those stakes up higher There’s a thousand pretty women waitin’ out there And they’re all livin’ devil may care And I’m just the devil with love to spare Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas I’m gonna keep on the run I’m gonna have me some fun If it costs me my very last dime If I wind up broke up well I’ll always remember… Read more »

Pete Novick
1 year 11 months ago

There is an area of northeast Quebec province in Canada that forms the north side of the St. Lawrence Seaway and lies just to the south of Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada Route 138 follows the coastline and some miles past the little town of Natashquan, the road ends. North and east of that point are thousands of square miles of empty land offering some of the best conditions for generating electricity from wind on the planet. There’s enough room for tens of thousands of wind turbines. The build-out would require 30 years at least, beginning with improvements to the port… Read more »

Valerie Desmarais
1 year 11 months ago

Re: the (would be) developer waffling over what to do next, the following is a quote from Eolian Energy’s website: ” As a demonstration of our commitment to having local buy-in, Seneca Mountain Wind LLC has committed to the outcome of a vote in each potential town where turbines may be located.”
http://seneca-wind.com/about/
That is great news to the 3 towns who have voted a resounding “NO” to the industrialization of their mountaintops. Their next move seems clear to me. What part of NO don’t they understand?

Kim Fried
1 year 11 months ago

Seneca Mountain Wind continues to torture the Vermont citizens of Newark, Brighton and the UTG with anxiety and the worry for our towns. Their committments are absolutely worthless. It’s been just shy of two years now. When is our “citizen” govenment, the Governor, DPS, ANR and PSB going to put a stop to this? We’re talking about controlled, democratic ballot votes in these towns. Does our Vermont goverment only extend democracy to out of state land owners and ridge line wind developers????

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