GRAFTON >> Grafton Woodlands Group and Friends of Windham hosted a candidates' forum Wednesday night in Grafton at the White Church attended by approximately 100 people.
The eight candidates included Gubernatorial candidates Peter Galbraith (D) and Phil Scott (R), and for Lt. Governor, Randy Brock (R), as well as Sen. Becca Balint (D), Sen. Dick McCormack (D), Sen. Jeanette White (D), Rep. Carolyn Partridge (D), and Rep. Matthew Trieber.
The forum focused on Vermont's energy policies, the role of the Public Service Board in siting and regulating renewable energy projects and the appropriateness of ridgeline industrial wind projects in Grafton and Windham.
The candidates stressed conservation and efficiency as key to reduce Vermont's use of energy, which is mostly in heating and transportation. They all agreed that local communities need deference when it comes to siting issues but how much was not in agreement. Galbraith said that wind turbines are environmentally disastrous and that Connecticut has a habit of making Vermont the dummy. He suggested putting turbines on Connecticut's hills instead of Vermont's pristine ridgelines.
All of the candidates said that the Grafton/Windham project proposed by Iberdrola was a concern.
Partridge displayed a chart showing the proposed project in Grafton/Windham has many more homes close to it than either of the other two towns that have industrial wind projects. Partridge said that this is one of the areas that gets her most concerned, where it's situated and the noise, and health effects and the well-being of the residents. She also mentioned dealing with large corporations and how powerless you become.
On the discussion involving noise, Balint commented that she is particularly sensitive to noise and sleeps with a white noise machine, so she understands the concern. "I know that noise can make you feel like you can go out of our skin."
Partridge reminded everyone that Iberdrola, the developer, has said they will abide by the vote of the two towns. And, if the towns vote it down, they will go away.