Grafton Select Board gets moving on wind related issues

A large crowd gathered Monday night to discuss aspects of the proposed industrial wind poll in Grafton.  Photo by Jennifer Jones
A large crowd gathered Monday night to discuss aspects of the proposed industrial wind poll in Grafton.
Photo by Jennifer Jones

 

GRAFTON, Vt. – The Grafton Town Selectboard held a meeting recently to continue research on the proposed industrial wind project sited in the Windham/Grafton area by Iberdrola Renewables .

Information-gathering committees, comprised of four volunteers from the community and one member of the Selectboard, were formed under three research headings: Environment, Health, and Economic.

The committees, which are subject to the State Open Meeting Law, are tasked with investigating their headings as it relates to industrial wind power in general and the proposed project for the area in particular.

“We’re just pulling together information. The point of those committees is not to debate that information,” said Select Board Chair Ron Pilette, who went on to outline that information should be taken from wind developer Iberdrola, the Grafton Woodlands Group, state departments, as well as the Internet, and then presented to the community and Selectboard members for consideration.

The hydrology forum reviewing the project at Lowell Mountain and its relevance to the proposed Windham/Grafton industrial wind project, slated for Sept. 7 has not received any acceptances from possible speakers; Fitzgerald Engineering, the lone respondent, regretfully had another engagement, though would consider attending if the event was re-scheduled.

The Selectboard may change the date, depending upon the number of responses received by the deadline.

The general structure of a proposed poll gauging the feeling of the community, including both residents and non-residents, towards the industrial wind project proposed for the area was discussed.

It was concluded that the poll would have three options (yes, no, undecided), as previously voted on, and details would be resolved at special meeting of the Selectboard on Friday, Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Grafton Town Hall.

Selectboard Chairman Ron Pilette said they need to get more information out to the public.

“One of the things we’ve learned recently, in terms of even the last election for the Selectboard post, is that basically, after all these years, a lot of people have very little information,” he said. “Part of that reason, in my understanding, is that Grafton simply has gone about this in a different way than, for instance, Windham has, which for four years has been pumping out lots of information, lots of meetings and so on.

“We sat on our haunches for various reasons for nearly three years and we’re behind the 8-ball on that.”

The code of conduct issue involving Selectman Al Sands and his meeting with Iberdrola and Meadowsend officials was broached.

Sands revealed that the primary purpose of the meeting was to meet new Iberdrola representative Walt Meisner, who would be working with Iberdrola Senior Business Developer Jenny Briot on the project.

A complaint had been filed by a group of citizens over the meeting; the outcome is yet to be determined.

Iberdrola’s plan to build turbines in the 5,000-acre Stiles Brook Forest has been planned for four years. Iberdrola and property owner Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd. say there would be 28 turbines capable of generating 96.6 megawatts of power.

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