IRASBURG — Members of the Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance, a citizens’ group dedicated to preserving the ridgelines of Irasburg from development by industrial wind turbine projects, confirmed the date of a town-wide vote on the issue.
The Irasburg Select Board will hold a Special Select Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 1, at the Irasburg Town Hall. At the meeting, Irasburg’s registered voters will cast their ballots on the question “Shall Kidder Hill, or any other ridgelines of the town of Irasburg be used for development by industrial wind turbine projects?”
David Blittersdorf, founder and CEO of All Earth Renewables, has announced his intention to build two 500-foot industrial wind turbines on Kidder Hill, just west of Irasburg’s village center.
Although Blittersdorf has not yet presented his plans to Vermont’s Public Service Board, which reviews such proposals, Irasburg’s citizens have already made known their opposition to the project.
A two-week petition drive has garnered the signatures of more than 400 of the town’s 685 voters. The petition asks the Irasburg Select Board to oppose industrial wind development on Kidder Hill “by all possible means.” The petition also asks the Select Board to preserve all of Irasburg’s ridgelines from industrial wind development.
Vermont State Senator John S. Rodgers represents the Essex-Orleans Senate District, part of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, which includes Irasburg. Rodgers is a vocal critic of the state’s process for approving and siting new energy projects.
“The Northeast Kingdom has become the dumping ground for every ill-conceived, poorly sited renewable energy project the developers can dream up,” Rodgers said. “The region already produces more energy than we can consume. Enough is enough! Environmental and energy issues are real, but we know that there are far more effective ways to address them without ruining the quality of life that defines us as Vermonters.”
Now Irasburg’s citizens plan to make their views on the proposed industrial wind project official by casting their ballots at the Special Select Board Meeting on October 1.
Although the October 1 vote will not be binding on the Public Service Board’s decision whether or not to allow the Kidder Hill Project to go forward, Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance (Ira) members believe that the results will clearly communicate the town’s overwhelming opposition to the project. They point to Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s pledge that he will not support building energy projects in towns that don’t want them.
In a 2012 Vermont Public Television interview, Shumlin said, “I have always said and I will always say I believe that no energy project should be built in a town in Vermont where the residents of that community don’t vote affirmatively to host it. We shouldn’t send them into towns that don’t want them. We shouldn’t build energy projects where they are not wanted.”
Longtime Irasburg resident Rebecca Boulanger emphasized the significance of the October 1 vote.
“Two 500-foot wind towers looming over our village would have an enormous impact on our town,” she said. “Here in Vermont, where we’re known worldwide for our town-meeting democracy, it is inconceivable that a decision with so many irreversible consequences for our citizens would be made without regard for the democratic process. By our votes next Thursday, we will make our voices heard and show our faith that democracy still counts in the Green Mountain State.”