Town Meeting 2016: Vernon voters support gas-fired electric plant

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VERNON >> Residents want to keep looking at the possible siting of a gas-fired electric generation plant in town after a 677-153 vote on Tuesday.

"It was a little bit of a shocking evening," Planning Commission Janet Rasmussen said following the non-binding vote that took place in a separate station during Tuesday's election. "Since we got such strong voter approval, we'll continue with our investigation and our evaluation process."

Don Campbell, of Stonewall Energy Advisors LLC, previously said the Stonewall company was specifically set up for the purpose of conducting the evaluation. He had told the Reformer, "It all comes back to the community. If it's not the right thing, then that's really all. It's only a question."

That question was: "Do you support a gas-fired electric generation plant in Vernon?"

Anything less than a 51 percent vote of support would have likely led to talks on the plant stopping in Vernon.

Planning Commission Chairman Bob Spencer reiterated the meaning of the vote, saying it didn't mean the project was going to happen.

"There's just so much that has to happen that's not in control of the town," he said.

Around town, Spencer said he heard from people who were "generally supportive" of the plant. But mostly everyone he spoken with shared the same concern; they wanted to know the exact site.

The vote, he said, "probably means a lot of different things to a lot of different people."

But Spencer thinks Monday night's annual Town Meeting opened some eyes with the release of the $750,000 figure that Entergy will be giving as payment in lieu of taxes next year as the owner of the closed nuclear Vermont Yankee. Entergy had been negotiating with the town's Tax Stabilization Committee.

"The stark reality of hearing the numbers and tax implications hit everyone last night," Spencer said. "No one had seen those numbers. That was new to everyone who wasn't on the committee."

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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