Londerry votes on contentious on wind power project

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(Host) Voters in Londonderry head to the polls on Friday to weigh in on commercial wind development on the town’s most visible peak. The wording on the ballot is general. The specific project behind it is a wind energy proposal that’s already stirred up a storm.

VPR’s Susan Keese reports.

(Keese) Londonderry has just under 1,200 voters. Claire Trask is vice chairwoman of the town select board. She says out of those 1,200, some 430 have been vocally opposed to the Glebe Mountain Wind Energy project. She says about 200 voters vocally support wind energy. Most of those would support this project, under the right conditions. Trask is in that group. But she says no one really knows what all the other voters are thinking.

(Trask) “And one of the things unfortunately that happened from Londonderry is that some of the public meetings have been really contentious and kind of nasty. And so we have a large portion of our population who refuse to come to the public meetings, just because they don’t want to be in the middle of that.”

(Keese) Trask says she hopes the chance to vote at the polls will allow those people to be heard too.

Selectboard members haven’t said exactly how they’ll use the advisory vote. The board itself is divided over the project, which would bring nineteen 420-foot turbines to Glebe Mountain. The project would be just up the slope from the Magic Mountain Ski Area.

The project’s developers, Catamount Energy and Marubeni Power International of Japan, plan to formally apply for state approval next month. The state Public Service Board will make the final decision. But Londonderry and its neighbor Windham will have input into the deliberations.

Robert Forbes is chairman of the Londonderry Selectboard. He opposes the project and says it isn’t yet clear what Londonderry’s input will be.

(Forbes) “There’s other factors to consider. Londonderry happens to be a community with a lot of second-home owners who don’t – who haven’t been put in a place where they can actually legally vote. So certainly in a close vote that may become part of the mix in the discussion, because they’re property owners here.”

(Keese) Whatever the outcome of the vote, a related question will come at town meeting. The town wants $100,000 for legal and consulting fees for the Public Service Board hearings.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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