December 13, 2011
Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 13 December 2011
DERBY LINE — Developers have asked Vermont energy regulators to approve two large wind turbines for the open hills east of Derby Line on the U.S.-Canadian border.
Chad Farrell with Encore Redevelopment of Burlington said his company and partners have applied for a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board for the $11 million project.
The turbines would be erected on the Grandview Farm owned by Bryan and Susan Davis and the Smugglers Hill farm owned by Jonathan and Jayne Chase. Both are border farms immediately to the east of Interstate 91 where it crosses the border into Quebec. The 2.2-megawatt turbines would be visible in parts of Derby, Derby Line and Holland and in Stanstead, Quebec.
The turbines would be either 415 feet or 429 feet from base to tip, depending on which turbine design is chosen, Farrell said Monday. They want turbines that are the quietest available at that size.
“This scale of project feels right for the community,” Farrell said.
He and his partners are confident that the turbines will receive the certificate in time for construction before the end of 2012, allowing developers to earn federal construction tax credits. Those credits will expire by the end of next year unless Congress extends them as some in the renewable energy industry hope.
The developers expect to return to meet with local residents and officials the first week of January, Farrell said.
They are still working on how much to pay Derby in annual taxes for hosting the wind turbines, plus what could be offered in “good neighbor” payments to neighboring towns, he said.
“We continue to be interested in engaging with the local community. We look forward to understanding any additional concerns,” he said.
The developers have reached out to the Holland Board of Selectmen and went to a meeting with the Stanstead Town Council.
The certification application kicks off a rigorous technical review before the Vermont Public Service Board. The board could decide to hold a public hearing in the area to take comment on the project.
The developers had hoped to apply earlier this fall but held off while studies were done on environmental impacts and other issues, including whether blasting would affect a back-up reservoir that serves the International Water Company of Derby Line and Stanstead.
Officials from Derby Line and Stanstead asked the developers to investigate that after Derby Selectman Karen Jenne, a critic of the project, raised the question.
A blasting expert has determined that the closest proposed turbine would be too far away, at 4,000 feet, from the reservoir and water line to have any impact.
A typical radius of impact for blasting at a granite quarry would be 2,500 feet, Farrell said.
“We don’t believe it will be an issue at all,” Farrell said.
A blasting expert will address the issue in a brief to the PSB and explain plans for pre-blasting and post-blasting monitoring.
The studies also looked at routes to move equipment and the tower parts to the turbine sites, identifying the access that have the least environmental impacts.
The contractors will ship the parts over the existing roads without impact, Farrell said, noting that the truckloads would be over-sized but not overweight.
The project would be considered under Act 248, and in particular as a project that qualified for special status as a small renewable energy project.
The hearings under 248 are in-depth and highly technical. Neighboring residents and towns may be considered interveners in the project. Typically, the host community, the state’s Department of Public Service, the state’s energy consumer advocate and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, are also parties.
The developers continue to hope that the state will expand the program that encourages the Derby project. They want to erect a third turbine on the Letourneau farm near the other two turbines.
The local transmission grid can support a third turbine, Farrell said.
Encore did not pursue a third turbine this year because it was not approved under the state’s current SPEED program for small renewable projects.
Farmer Phil Letourneau is determined to see a turbine on his property.
The developers intend to post their application and supporting briefs in the next few days on their website at encoreredevelopment.com/projects/renewable-energy.html.
This article is provided as a service of National Wind Watch, Inc.
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