NEWPORT â€“ The Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) board voted by a wide majority to support a three-year moratorium on industrial size wind developments. The vote Thursday evening at an NVDAâ€™s dinner meeting at Le Belvedere in Newport was about 40 "yes" to about three "no" by a show of hands.
The Executive Committee had asked for a three-year period to suspend new wind turbine projects proposed at over 200 feet tall pending the study of impacts of such developments, costs versus benefits, and potential health effects.
One of the goals of the moratorium is to send a message to Montpelier from the Northeast Kingdom. Many people, including legislators such as Joe Benning from Caledonia County, said the Northeast Kingdom is targeted for large scale wind turbine projects.
Many spoke out in support of the moratorium prior to the vote, including Sen. Bobby Starr of North Troy, Rep. Duncan Kilmartin of Newport, and Rep. Bob Lewis of Derby.
Lewis brought up concerns about the heated controversy among communities and neighbors that are so close and have always been cordial. He also pointed out that wind turbines are proven to kill birds and bats.
Bob Walker of Irasburg said that large turbines are pitting neighbor against neighbor and country against country. He also brought up concerns on the heavy, over-sized truck loads that will be rolling through town within the next couple of weeks carrying the turbine parts to the Lowell Mountain wind project and what effect those trucks will have on roads and bridges.
Mark Higley of Lowell did not support the moratorium. He talked about the jobs the turbine projects create and the increase to businesses in the area.
However, Newport City Manager John Ward said the turbine construction jobs are only temporary and, once the construction is complete, there may be only three jobs left at most. He said he supports wind power, but is against the subsidies it takes to construct them and and is concerned that they do not provide base load power.
Starr said he has not found much positive about wind turbines, except that some people feel positive when they see them. Some say the power is free. â€śWhy do we need to subsidize it then?" He asked.
Starr also said that if a logger went up on the Lowell Mountains and did what Green Mountain power is doing clearing away trees, â€śTheyâ€™d be in jail.â€ť