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Swanton Wind Files Application To Build Turbines

A ridge in Swanton Vermont in the distance, site of proposed wind project.
Melody Bodette
VPR File
Swanton Wind has filed for a Certificate of Public Good from Vermont's Public Service Board to build seven turbines on this ridge line between Swanton and Fairfield.

Swanton Wind has officially filed an application with regulators to build a 7-turbine wind energy project on a ridge line in Swanton. It’s been over a year since the company notified nearby towns that they planned to ask the Public Service Board for a Certificate of Public Good to build the project.

Swanton Wind developers, Travis and Ashley Belisle live in the Swanton neighborhood closest to the proposed turbine sites. Since the surrounding towns were first notified of the project plans last year, some of their neighbors, including those who bought land from the Belisles, have become vocal opponents to the wind turbines.

At a backyard press conference, Ashley Belisle said Swanton Wind is taking the unusual step of offering post-construction buyouts to around 20 neighbors within 3,000 feet of the turbines, saying they will resell the properties. “We do so confidently because people are still gladly buying houses in this neighborhood even when they know a wind project is coming.”

She says the project meets or exceeds environmental standards. Project consultant Martha Staskus says the 7-turbines have the potential to produce 20 megawatts of power, twice as much as nearby 4-turbine Georgia Community Wind, and it’s at a lower elevation than other wind developments.

"People are still gladly buying houses in this neighborhood even when they know a wind project is coming." — Ashley Belisle, Swanton Wind

“This site reflects some of the advancement in technology. This ridge line is 900 feet in elevation. Georgia mountain is 1,400 feet, Lowell is 2,300 feet,” she said.

One neighbor spoke in favor of the project, but when opponents heard about the press conference, they scrambled together on the nearby main road holding signs saying “no wind turbines.’

Credit Melody Bodette / VPR
Swanton Wind, LLC principal developers Travis Belisle, left and Ashley Belisle announced the filing at a press conference along with project team members Anthony Iarrapino and Martha Staskus and neighbor Chris Maynard.

Christine Lang says she heard about the buyout option from a reporter, so it’s too soon to say if she’d consider leaving, but she hasn’t changed her mind about the project.

“The community voted overwhelmingly against the project. They’ve done nothing to alleviate the concerns of the community in the year they’ve waited to file. Nothing has changed,” she said.

Last fall, Swanton voters said no to the project in a non-binding referendum. Lang says herconcerns about environmental and sound impacts remain.

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
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