2:32pm

Wed September 15, 2010
Reinventing the Windmill

Wind proponents play defense at Litchfield town board meeting

The sparsely populated town of Litchfield, N.Y. is working on writing a law to regulate wind turbines. The issue is so big, separate workshops are scheduled, devoted solely to work on the legislation. Emotions run high during those meetings.

Tuesday night, Litchfield held its regularly scheduled monthly town board meeting. They examined balance sheets and discussed license fees for dog tags- normal town government stuff.

Still, the meeting became a battleground for the wind issue.

“One of the reasons we show up is just because things seem to get out of hand when it becomes out of balance one way or another,” said Shelby Barrett, who says she’s not opposed to wind turbines. She came with her husband, Rich, who is in favor of any alternative energy

The town isn’t finished writing the new law, but one town board member said he’s voting no. That makes him a champion to opponents of wind power development.

“I don’t believe they’re in the best interest of this town and this community,” Councilor James D. Entwistle told the crowd at the meeting last night, to roaring applause.

Entwistle brought up a conflict of interest accusation against Supervisor Wayne. T Casler. Entwisted believes Casler’s employer, Barrett Paving, will benefit greatly from wind turbines, because energy companies will come Barrett for materials.

Casler disagrees, and says this wind law will benefit everyone. The town hired an outside attorney to examine the issue. The lawyer is purported to have said in a letter, there appears to be no conflict of interest.  Entwistle admitted that he’s basing his accusation off of an assumption.

Litchfield has a moratorium on wind turbines that expires at the end of March 2011. Until the law is written and voted upon, town meetings will likely continue to resemble the contentious health care town hall meetings from a year ago.