On November 3, 2021

Proctor gives cool shoulder to turbine on Grandpa’s Knob

By Angelo Lynn

PROCTOR — A half dozen Proctor residents spoke out against a renewable energy project slated for Grandpa’s Knob that would seek to place a single 450-foot-tall wind turbine on the ridgeline there.

Sam Carlson, who works in community relations for Grandpa’s Knob Community Wind, presented the project to the Proctor Select Board Monday night, Oct. 25, and fielded questions afterward.

Carlson had already presented to Pittsford Oct. 6 and after Proctor’s meeting went to present to the Castleton Select Board.

He explained that the focus of the nonprofit community wind project was to honor the historic presence of the world’s first wind turbine, the Smith-Putnam turbine, which was built there in 1941 and remained in operation until one of its blades failed in 1945. The new turbine would be close to that historic location. The base of the turbine would include historic markers and explanatory graphics.

The 1.5 MW turbine would measure 295 feet to the generator hub, and the blades would sweep 143 higher than the hub, creating a significant visual presence on the western side of the ridgeline. But Carlson emphasized it would not be reminiscent of a 2012 project that sought to build up to 20 wind turbines along a ridgeline near Grandpa’s Knob.

“Our goal is to only build one wind turbine,” Carlson said, explaining that the cost would be about $4.5 million and that after the project was paid off, the nonprofit would split all future revenues with surrounding towns on a 50-50 basis.

While Carlson said he expected the wind turbine to have a minimum lifetime of 20 years, he did not say how quickly the project would be paid off, nor how much revenue towns might be projected to receive. It was also unclear if Proctor would be considered one of the surrounding towns and, therefore, eligible to receive part of the profits.

Proctor, it was explained, was not directly contiguous to Castleton, nor would the wind turbine been seen from very many locations in Proctor. Carlson said he was presenting the project to Proctor residents just to inform them of the potential project.

(Editor’s note: Grandpa’s knob is geographically located in West Rutland, according to the USGS map.)

Nonetheless, several area residents were at the meeting in person to speak against the project, as were a couple people who watched the meeting remotely. Of those opposing the project, most were adamant that the project did not significantly add to Vermont’s renewable energy generation, would establish a bad precedent that could allow other wind turbine developers to build more turbines at a future date, and that the structures were an eyesore on the landscape.

While everyone who spoke was in favor of alternative energy development, they were opposed to the project.

The Select Board also noted that the wind turbine project was in violation of Proctor’s town plan, as well as in violation of the Rutland County Regional Development plan.

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