Swanton wind gets OK from FAA

Michelle Monroe

By Michelle Monroe

Executive Editor

The Facts

Owned by

SWANTON —The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined seven proposed wind turbines in Swanton do not pose a threat to air navigation.

The determination, issued Sunday, states that “aeronautical study revealed that the structure[s] do not exceed obstruction standards and would not be a hazard to air navigation.”

Although the FAA initially said the project was a potential hazard, it also stated Swanton Wind could request further analysis. The company did so. That more detailed analysis found no threat, provided the developer, Swanton Wind, lights and marks the turbines in accordance with federal requirements.

During construction, the turbines would have to be lit once they reached 200 feet in height.

In a written statement, Travis Belisle, co-owner of Swanton Wind, today said, “This green light from the federal government’s top aviation experts allows my team to continue its careful and deliberate work on our project design to meet or exceed applicable environmental and safety standards.”

“We’re taking our time to get all these important project details right and looking forward to the day when Swanton Wind will begin making its contribution to Vermont’s growing clean energy economy,” he added.

In its statement, Swanton Wind noted that the issue first came to public attention when former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie issued a press release in his role as chair of the Vermont Aviation and Aerospace Association.

The statement from Swanton Wind is critical of Dubie’s statements, which presented the matter as resolved rather than as a preliminary determination.

“Mr. Dubie mischaracterized the content and import of communications from the FAA to Swanton Wind regarding the status and outcome of FAA’s review. In so doing, Mr. Dubie once again made misleading statements about Swanton Wind to the public and the media,” the statement from Swanton Wind reads. “Swanton Wind hopes going forward Mr. Dubie will take greater care to get his facts right before making statements about Swanton Wind.”

The turbines are proposed for land owned by Travis and Ashley Belisle adjacent to their home on Rocky Ridge Road on the Swanton and St. Albans Town line. The project, which has met with resistance from the community, could generate 20 megawatts of power.

The project would be located on a mile of hilltop above the housing development.

The turbines would be 500 feet tall.

Approval of the project lies with the Public Service Board (PSB). Swanton Wind has not yet filed for a certificate of public good from the PSB.

However, voters in the Town of Swanton expressed their disapproval of the project in a non-binding referendum last month 731-160.