March 8, 2006

Sutton strongly rejects industrial wind power

At town meeting yesterday, Sutton (Vt.) voted 120 to 23 against the proposal by Italy-based UPC to construct six giant wind turbines on their ridgelines. This sent a clear message to the select board (which asked for the vote), which was inclining favorably to the development after UPC offered them $100,000 a year for ten years.

And in neighboring Sheffield, one pro-wind member of the planning commission was voted out in favor of a new member opposed to the same project, which would see 20 of the 400-ft-high machines on Sheffield's ridges.

Sheffield had a town vote on Dec. 1, 2005, which the developers won 120-93 with old-fashioned vote buying, but since then the planning commission (which was then generally supportive of the project) made a broader survey. They found that two-thirds of the respondents opposed and one-third supported wind power development on the ridgelines. Earlier in 2005, Ridge Protectors sent a petition to everyone on the Sheffield grand list. Of the 436 petitions sent out, 346 were returned with signatures against the UPC project.

Londonderry voted 425 to 213 on February 24 against investor Diamond Castle–owned Catamount Energy's proposal to erect 19 420-ft-high turbines on Glebe Mountain. Yesterday, they approved $100,000 to fight the project, and one member of the select board was replaced by a clear opponent of the Glebe Mountain proposal.

Manchester, whose Little Equinox ridge is targeted by Endless Energy of Lowell, Mass., held their town meeting on Saturday and voted by voice to oppose the project.

In contrast, a survey of voters at Readsboro's town meeting found that support for expansion of the Searsburg facility (the existing 11 200-ft-high machines to be supplemented with 20-30 340-ft-high machines) into their town was strong at 191-31. There is another proposal for Readsboro (the "Deerfield" project) involving 20-25 new turbines. As reported, it is unclear what exactly the Readsboro residents thought they were responding to.

In other town meeting news, four towns joined Newfane (the only one to have warned the article) to call on Representative Bernie Sanders to begin impeachment of George Bush. Montpelier and Burlington voters rejected a call to stop adding fluoride to the water, preferring weak bones, Alzheimer's, and cancer in the name of stronger tooth enamel. And Burlington elected a new mayor using instant runoff voting to ensure a majority preference.

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