IRASBURG — Faced with the prospect of an application by developer David Blittersdorf for an industrial-scale wind project on Irasburg’s Kidder Hill ridgeline, the Irasburg selectboard has defined its position on the siting of renewable energy projects within the town, as well as turbines located over the town line in Lowell.
“Energy projects in Irasburg must proceed based on the principles of respect for the environment, sound economics and regard for community values,” said Selectboard Chair David Warner. “Because industrial-scale wind turbines on the town’s ridgelines do not meet all of these criteria, the town of Irasburg opposes their development.”
On October 1, 2015, Irasburg citizens voted 274-9 not to allow the development of industrial wind projects on the town’s ridgelines.
“The selectboard stands with Governor Phil Scott in our commitment to working towards energy efficiency and renewable energy goals without destroying our ridgelines,” said selectboard member Mark Collette.
On December 23, 2016, Blittersdorf presented a 45-day notice of his intent to file an application for a CPG for two 2.5-megawatt industrial wind towers, each 499 feet high, on Kidder Hill, Irasburg’s dominant ridgeline, just west of town.
The Blittersdorf pre-file notice described several different potential configurations for the two towers, on either side of the Irasburg-Lowell town line, which runs along the ridgeline.
However, Warner noted that Act 174, the energy siting bill passed in 2016 by the Vermont legislature, grants adjacent municipalities the right to participate in siting decisions if the facility will be within a distance of 500 feet or 10 times the height of the facility, whichever is greater.
That provision makes Irasburg a participant in energy siting decisions for proposed sites in Lowell within a distance of 4,990 feet, or .95 miles from Irasburg.
“Many people believe that if Irasburg opposes industrial wind development on the Kidder Hill ridgeline, the developer could simply move the towers a few feet to the Lowell side of the town line,” Warner said. “However, the towers would have to move nearly a mile away from Irasburg before our town would lose its participation in the siting decision. The legislature included that provision in Act 174 precisely for situations like this.”