To many residents in this tiny town in southern Vermont, the last-minute offer of cash was a blatant attempt to buy their votes.
To the developer that offered the money, it was simply a sign of how attentively the company had been listening to voters’ concerns.
The company, Iberdrola Renewables, a Spanish energy developer, wants to build Vermont’s largest wind project on a private forest tract that spans Windham and the adjacent town of Grafton. The project would consist of 24 turbines, each nearly 500 feet tall, and generate 82.8 megawatts of power, enough to light 42,000 homes for a year if the wind kept blowing, though the houses could be in Connecticut or Massachusetts.
Residents of the two towns will vote Nov. 8 on whether to approve the project, which has pitted neighbor against neighbor. No one knows which way the vote will go.
That same day, residents statewide will be voting for governor. Wind development has become an issue in that race, which The Cook Political Report rates a tossup, and sentiment here could be decisive in the outcome.
Facing the possibility that voters here may reject the proposal, putting a damper on large-scale wind development in Vermont, Iberdrola last week put cash on the table for individual voters.