WINDHAM, Vt. – After voters in Windham and Grafton both rejected a large-scale wind power project in their towns, the company says it will pull out.
In Grafton, the wind project died by a vote of 235 to 158, and in Windham, voters passed on the project 181 to 101.
The Spanish energy company Iberdrola Renewables had sought to build Vermont’s largest wind project, 24 turbines, in Windham and Grafton.
Iberdrola Renewables will honor the votes and “cease development of the Stiles Brook Wind Project unless the communities reconsider their decision,” spokesman Paul Copleman said.
Two grass-roots organizations, Grafton Woodlands Group and Friends of Windham, formed to oppose the project.
The Grafton group issued a statement after the vote: “(We will) fight to the end to preserve our ridgelines in Vermont. We will seek energy solutions that make less of a footprint while respecting Grafton’s own unique environment and character.”
The opposition groups said the project the turbines could have negative impacts on aesthetics, property values, the environment and human health. Iberdrola countered that the turbines would not harm neighbors’ health.
Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd., the property owner, supported the project, saying the Stiles Brook turbines would be a source of renewable energy and would deter the effects of climate change.
Although that poll was non-binding, second-homeowners in Grafton were also opposed, 152 to 35, with 14 undecided.
Iberdrola was criticized for offering a community-benefit package for the two towns of $1.5 million annually. That included partnership payments of $565,000 annually to residents of Windham and Grafton if the wind project was built.
The towns, under state law, don’t have veto power over the project, but Iberdrola said it would abide by the results of the referendums.
“We are confident that the project would be a valuable and significant benefit to the local communities of Grafton and Windham, while also making an impact towards energy independence and climate change,” Copleman said.