Critics of a proposed wind development there say they’re pleased that the Shumlin Administration has taken notice of their opposition.
Governor Peter Shumlin is on record as saying he won’t support a wind development if a town votes against it.
That’s what happened recently in Newark, when voters overwhelmingly approved changes to the town plan to ban ridgeline wind projects.
Elizabeth Miller is commissioner of the Department of Public Service, the state agency that represents ratepayers. Her department plans to tell the Public Service Board on Monday that the local opposition is significant.
"Under the board’s precedent town plans do matter," Miller says. "The board has to give them due consideration. And while they aren’t the only factor the board looks at, when the town plan is clear that a town does not want to see a certain type of development within in its borders, that – under the orderly development standard the board looks at – really does matter. And it matters to the department as the public advocate."
Eolian Renewable Energy of Portsmouth, N.H. wants to build 35 turbines on ridgelines in remote Caledonia and Essex County. It calls the project Seneca Mountain Wind
Newark resident Noreen Hession has organized opposition. She’s cheered that the Shumlin Administration will tell the board about the changes to the town plan.
"This is yet another strike against Seneca Mountain Wind and Eolian, another message to tell them we do not want them in our town," she says. "We do not want them to industrialize our town."
Eolian officials have said they’re not yet pursuing a full scale project. At this stage, they’re asking the Public Service Board to approve construction of a wind measurement tower in Newark.
But Hession says the Newark town plan prohibits towers above 125 feet, so it applies to the smaller project as well.