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Questions, Not Comments

September 5, 2012

John Soininen of Seneca Mountain Wind. Photo by Ed Barber

BRIGHTON, VT - The Select Board, town officials, interested parties, and John Soininen from Seneca Mountain Wind (SMW) met Tuesday evening to hash out the format for an October 3rd meeting for both sides to educate the public about commercial wind.
The meeting will be scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. and will start with 30-minute presentations from up to 12 panelists, half selected by Seneca Mountain Wind and the other half by the Brighton Ridge Protectors.
Following the presentation, the floor will be opened to the public, who will be limited to asking questions of the panelists but will not be permitted to make statements for or against the project.
Soininen's position is the meeting should be for people to ask questions of the “experts” on the panel and not to state a personal opinion. Moderator Tom Donnellan agreed, stating, “We need to let people educate each other, but this should not be a time to vent.”
Those permitted to ask questions are residents of the town, voters, and taxpayers, which will allow non-resident property owners to be able to participate at the meeting.
Whether the publicly warned hearing is presented as a “panel discussion” or a “town meeting” was dismissed by Donnellan, who advised the select board that, regardless, the same open meeting rules apply. Donnellan also asked the select board to establish written ground rules he must enforce, including a time limit on questions and answers.
Prior to the Tuesday meeting, Seneca Mountain Wind sent letters to the select boards in Newark and Brighton and to the Board of Governors for the Unified Towns and Gores of Essex County. The letters state that the developer will “respect the official position of the community as to whether they are willing to host a wind power project (once proposed).”
Jack Kenworthy, manager of SMW, LLC, states, “SMW is submitting this letter to this Board to demonstrate our willingness to commit to the outcome of a properly warned, town-wide ballot vote, once a wind project has been proposed and the full accurate details discussed.”
Currently SMW has applied for a Certificate of Public Good before the Public Service Board for the placement of four temporary meteorological towers to gather data in two towns and one gore. The proposed project could involve as many as 35 turbines, which can provide power to approximately 45,000 homes.
SMW, LLC, is a joint venture between Eolian Renewable Energy, LLC, and Nordex-USA, Inc., a turbine manufacturer and project developer. The company has 4,700 turbines operating in 38 countries.

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