United States

United States

Slow progress in the Northeast Kingdom -- Demonstration project

Vermont wind energy entrepreneur Matt Rubin is moving ahead slowly with his 50 turbine project proposed for the state's mountainous Northeast Kingdom region. As a first step in building the East Haven Wind Farm, Rubin is planning to install a demonstration project of four 1.5 MW turbines on East Mountain, on land that was once the site of a US Air Force radar base. The idea is to introduce wind technology gradually in an area where there has been some opposition

Of responses to a survey sent out to 235 residents and property owners by East Haven's Selectmen, 89 say they favour the four turbine project and 15 say they do not. "The survey was ten to one in favour. It's becoming clear that the opposition consists of 18 people who are better-to-do than average. They write lots of letters to the editor and call lots of people. But every survey in Vermont has shown 75 percent of the people in the state are in favour," says Rubin. "There simply is no opposition. There's only 18 people. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there's 22."

Not so, says Beryl Eddy of The Kingdom Commons Group, a citizens opposition group. "There are lots and lots of people all over the ridgelines who oppose these turbines," she says. "There have to be lots of transmission wires, they're going to be huge eyesores and will have no benefit to local people."

At least one Vermont state government representative from the Northeast Kingdom has called for a moratorium on wind development in Vermont. A number of projects have been proposed for the mountainous Kingdom (Windpower Monthly, September 2003), but Rubin is emerging as the most likely to be first up and operating because he owns the land on which the four turbines may stand.

Rubin's application for the four turbine project is proceeding slowly through state and local boards. Notifications have been filed and some of the public hearings have been held. His intention to erect the turbines before the end of 2004 may be overly optimistic. He would need to receive his permits in time to allow completion of construction before the onset of snow, which occurs early in northern Vermont, particularly at over 1000 metres. "If the four turbines demonstrate what we hope and the public agrees that it would be a good thing," he hopes ultimately to install as many as 50 turbines.

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