FROM NEWARK NEIGHBORS UNITED
NEWS RELEASE: for immediate release
Dec. 17, 2012
NEWARK (Dec. 17, 2012): The town of Brighton has reaffirmed Vermonters’ commitment to environmental preservation. Earlier this month, the Brighton Select Board sent a mailing to all Brighton taxpayers and registered voters, asking “What’s your opinion about an industrial wind project on the ridgelines in Brighton, VT?” On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the votes were tallied. Of those responding, 544 voted against and 320 in favor of ridgeline industrial wind development. The 63% to 37% margin is a decisive victory for those opposed to industrial wind ridgeline development.
The vote was prompted by the targeting of Brighton and neighboring towns in the Northeast Kingdom by the developer Eolian Renewable Energy of New Hampshire. Eolian has incorporated its most recent attempt at a wind project under the name Seneca Mountain Wind (SMW). SMW has submitted an application to the Public Service Board to construct four MET (meteorological measurement) towers in Brighton, Ferdinand, and Newark, as a precursor to a large industrial wind facility.
Cynthia Barber, executive coordinator of Newark Neighbors United (NNU), was heartened by the vote: “NNU sends a hearty thank you to our neighbors in Brighton. Like the citizens of Newark, our fellow citizens in Brighton have made a very strong statement. We are, indeed, ‘Neighbors United.’ We have researched the impacts of industrial wind ridgeline development. Such projects produce high-priced electricity and have devastating impacts on the environment. These projects neither reduce our carbon footprint nor decrease greenhouse gas emissions. They represent huge negative impacts for Vermont, with negligible gain.”
Earlier this year, the residents of Newark voted 3-to-1 to amend their town plan with strong language against industrial wind ridgeline and MET tower development in Newark.
The third area targeted, the Unified Towns and Gores (UTG), which has jurisdiction over Ferdinand, held an informal straw poll this summer. Fewer than 8% of the eligible voters participated in that poll, yielding statistically insignificant results. The UTG Board of Governors has stated that it will not take action based on an inconclusively small sample.
In reaction to the Brighton vote, Newark resident Nancy Fried said, “I want to send a joyful thank you and congratulations to our neighbors in Island Pond and Brighton. What happens in one town has a strong impact on neighboring communities.”
Ms. Fried continued: “This vote affirms the continued growing support throughout the state for an immediate moratorium on industrial wind turbine projects. The legislature and all of Vermont need an opportunity to learn what the citizens of Newark and Brighton have learned. Ridgeline destruction has financial benefits for investors, developers, and a few well-situated landowners, but negative long-term consequences for the mountains and citizens.”
Pam Arborio, President of Brighton Ridge Protectors, stated, “We have something in Brighton that money can’t buy. We know that industrial wind causes permanent damage to our mountains, imperils wildlife, devastates wildlife habitat, negatively affects our tourism industry, drives down our property values, and risks our neighbor’s health – while doing nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, 96% of the carbon emissions in Vermont are produced by homes, buildings, heating, transportation, and industrial processes, so a reduction, if any, from an industrial wind facility could only operate on the small remaining percentage of 4%.
Ms. Arborio said that the Brighton Ridge Protectors will be working with the Brighton Select Board and the Town Planning Commissioner in approving the required 5-year update of the town plan. “We also look forward to hearing the governor add his voice of support for the citizens of Brighton.”
She added, “Seneca Mountain Wind developers recently repeated their commitment that ‘when a community votes against a proposed wind project, SMW will withdraw its application for that project.’ We hope that Seneca Mountain Wind will respect our vote by honoring that commitment and withdrawing its Brighton MET Tower application, which is currently before the Public Service Board.”
Newark Neighbors United (NNU) is a citizens’ group with intervener status opposing Seneca Mountain Wind’s application for a Certificate of Public Good to locate four MET towers in the Northeast Kingdom.