Fairfield joins Swanton in opposing wind project

Public hearings to be held on Swanton town energy plan

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

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SWANTON — The Town Selectboard set two public hearings to discuss the adoption of new energy-related language for the municipal plan and prepared for the next step in its effort to oppose Swanton Wind at Tuesday night’s selectboard meeting.

Additionally, Fairfield Town Clerk Amanda Forbes attended the meeting to notify the board that Fairfield’s selectboard voted to apply for party status in the Public Service Board (PSB)’s regulatory process regarding Swanton Wind, strengthening local resistance to the project.

That opposition will be strengthened even more if the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC), which already plans to file for party status, decides to oppose the project. Swanton Wind’s core opponents, in attendance at last night’s Town Selectboard meeting, told the board — without citing sources — that the NRPC plans to do just that because the project does not fit with the NRPC’s new regional energy plan. The NRPC has not officially stated its position on the project, but Harold Garrett, chair of the NRPC’s finance committee, was quick to inform Swanton’s selectboard that he had approved $10,000 toward the NRPC’s efforts regarding the project.

Swanton’s Planning Commission shaped the language in question, which outlines an energy philosophy for Swanton as a whole, over the past year. Commissioners finalized the language in October after five months under siege from wind opponents, who feared the language was too weak, and Swanton Wind, represented by attorney Anthony Iarrapino, who said the language was based on fear and scientific fallacies.

The process is not over yet. The Town Selectboard set dates for two public hearings at last night’s meeting: one on Dec. 6, the other on Dec. 20. The language will be officially adopted and incorporated into Swanton’s municipal plan after the second hearing.

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