Windham Foundation comes out against Iberdrola / Avangrid industrial wind project

windham-foundationFrom Anna Vesely and Carol Lind, co-directors of the Grafton Woodlands Group:

On September 30, 2016, the Windham Foundation of Grafton, Vermont, published a letter in the town newspaper affirming its opposition to the proposed Grafton/Windham industrial wind project. For the past four years, our community group has been dedicated to educating ourselves and our neighbors about the impact of the project on our town and the region. Thus, we at Grafton Woodlands Group are gratified that the Windham Foundation has concluded that the project “is not in Grafton’s best interest, and we do not believe it should be built.”

In its letter to the Grafton News, the Foundation notes, “If the wind project is built and the impact of construction and operation is adverse to the beauty and experience of Grafton as we know it, there will be no way to turn back. In our judgment, the risk to Grafton and all we seek to preserve is too great.”

The letter goes on to point out, “As the town’s largest taxpayer, the Foundation itself would be a major beneficiary (of the developer’s proposed payment to the Town). Some taxpayers would benefit. However, due to the way the State property tax relief program works, those who might benefit from a reduction in the municipal portion of their real estate taxes could find those savings offset by a loss in the property tax adjustment that is based on income, if they are eligible for that program. The result could be little or no net gain. Homeowners should access their individual situation.”

Grafton Woodlands Group appreciates that, in opposing the industrial wind project, the Windham Foundation has upheld its mission to “preserve and promote the vitality of Grafton and Vermont’s rural communities.” This echoes our mission, which is to protect Grafton’s heritage. We’re thrilled.

Read the Windham Foundation’s letter, below.

Dear Neighbors:

Like you, we have been paying close attention to the Stiles Brook Wind Project that was first proposed in 2013. The developer said at the time that the views of the community would matter. Over many months this project has been a primary topic of conversation in town.

Upon careful consideration of the environmental, economic and aesthetic impacts of the project, we have concluded it is not in Grafton’s best interest and we do not believe it should be built.

Here’s how we came to the conclusion to oppose the Stiles Brook Wind Project.
Since its founding in 1963, the Windham Foundation has focused on both preserving and promoting the vitality of Grafton and Vermont’s rural communities. The exquisite harmony of the natural and built landscapes of Grafton is a precious asset, with considerable social and economic value. As operators of the Grafton Village Cheese Company and the Grafton Inn, we recognize and contribute to the local economy.

The rural beauty and scale of the village are among the reasons many people choose to live and to visit here and the reason Grafton was included in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die.

With regard to the environment, it does not appear that this project will be necessary to meet Vermont’s ambitious renewable energy goal of 90% renewable power by 2050.  According to the state website, the state is exceeding its goals and will achieve 55% or more renewable energy by the end of 2017. This is being accomplished through a combination of solar, hydro and existing wind.  We also note that significant wind development is underway or planned in other states across the northeast to meet renewable goals in those states.

If the wind project is built and the impact of construction and operation is adverse to the beauty and experience of Grafton as we know it, there will be no way to turn back. In our judgment, the risk to Grafton and all we seek to preserve is too great.

Altering the delicate balance inherent in the rural character of this area is a risk that should not be taken unless we are certain that the benefits outweigh any negative consequences.

We do not take lightly the appeal of a tax decrease for some town residents. As the town’s largest tax payer, the Foundation itself would be amajor beneficiary. Some taxpayers would benefit. However, due to the way the State property tax relief program works, those who might benefit from a reduction in the municipal portion of their real estate taxes could find those savings offset by a loss in the property tax adjustment that is based on income, if they are eligible for that program. The result could be little or no net gain. Home owners should assess their individual situation.

We understand that others will weigh these concerns differently and come to a different conclusion. We respect everyone’s point of view on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Edward Zuccaro, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Elizabeth Bankowski, President and CEO

October 1st, 2016|