Quebec-Vermont Wind Turbine Dispute Threatens To Become International Incident

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STANSTEAD QUEBEC VERMONT WINDMILLS
The U.S.-Canada border is pictured between Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec, Sunday August 7, 2011. The mayor of Stanstead has said he would shut off the water valves if two wind turbines are installed just outside the limits of his town, on the American side. (The Canadian Press Images/Francis Vachon) | CP

A Quebec town on the Vermont border is threatening to shut off the water supply to a neighbouring American town if a plan to build windmills on the U.S. side goes ahead.

The mayor of Stanstead, a town in the Eastern Townships that controls the water serving the U.S. town of Derby Line, has said he would shut off the water valves if two wind turbines are installed just outside the limits of his town, on the American side.

“This is not a municipal council decision, but it is a measure I am proposing so that we can be heard,” Mayor Philippe Dutil said in a phone interview.

Dutil is furious. A few weeks ago, citizens and local elected officials learned that the company Encore Redevelopment, based in Burlington, planned to install wind turbines near the Canada-U.S. border.

It turns out the Americans intended to install the windmills only a few metres from the residential area of the Canadian town, but far from the houses on the U.S. zone, the mayor explained. Stanstead residents are outraged.

“They (Encore Redevelopment) want to build two wind turbines only 150 metres away from about 50 or so houses, the Stanstead Mayor declared, while on the American side, there are no houses within at least six kilometers from the proposed location of the wind turbines.”

It is a critique shared by both of the area’s elected officials. “It doesn’t look like [the American company] took into account the fact that there was a city on the other side of the border,” claimed Pierre Reid, the provincial Liberal member for Orford.

“This situation must not create a precedent where we end up with wind turbines all along the Canada-US border,” added federal New Democratic Party (NDP) member for Compton, Jean Rousseau.

Not In My Country

According to officials, the two wind turbines could pose a safety risk for residents on the Canadian side, on top of driving down property values.

“There is real danger for the residents, because the wind turbines would be right on the edge of a residential neighborhood,” warned the NDP’s Rousseau, who is also worried about the ice that could form on the turbines’ rotor blades in winter.

The mayor has expressed concern for certain species of migratory birds that come through the area each year during their migration south. It is a situation he claims the American company is already aware of.

“The American company is prepared to collect dead birds on the American side. But not if they fall on our side of the border,” said Mr. Dutil.

These arguments are contested by Encore Redevelopment.

“There is a lot of false information circulating among the public about the project, and we are taking very seriously the claims about a possible impact on public health,” stated Chad Farrell, principal of the company, in an email sent to Huffington Post Quebec.

“The fact is that the wind turbines have been installed safely all over the world in locations very similar to our project in Derby Line, without any problems whatsoever. Modern wind turbines are silent, safe, and in the case of this project, provide farmers with an additional source of revenue,” he added.

International Incident?

Stanstead’s elected officials wantl to open a dialogue with Vermont authorities and the Vermont Public Service Board.

“We are in the process of scrutinizing all the existing treaties between Quebec and Vermont to find channels of communication,” Rousseau explained, indicating that he hoped there would be no need to involve American authorities in Washington.

As for the provincial member, Mr. Reid, he said he has called on the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to help obtain an audience with the Vermont Public Service Board, and also sent a letter on April 30th to the U.S. company detailing the Canadian side’s concerns.

Also on The Huffington Post

U.S. Windmills On The Quebec Border
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