The Derby Line Wind Project is dead, for now.
Developer Chad Farrell of Encore Redevelopment announced Friday afternoon that he has voluntarily withdrawn a plan for two large wind turbines on two Derby farms near the Canadian border, citing mounting costs and international controversy that threatened to overwhelm the resources of his firm and state utility regulators.
Farrell said he will try to come back next year with a one-turbine project, focusing on the *
But Farrell said he has abandoned the idea for a turbine for the Smugglers Hill Farm owned by the Chases because of its proximity to the border.
“Encore will not pursue the turbine on Smugglers Hill Farm any further,” Farrell stated.
Farrell and partners announced the project last summer to cautious optimism because of initial community support for the farmers who want the income that the wind energy would create and the lack of opposition.
But mistakes, bad legal advice about Canadian abutters, and other delays proved fatal, including failing to notify abutting landowners in Vermont. That led to a a slow burn of gathering opposition that spilled across the border.
As of Friday, seven different groups of Canadian residents were seeking to intervene in the process. The local member of Canadian Parliament had sought Canadian government input, and with Stanstead Mayor Philippe
And a Quebec renewable energy association said the turbine on Smugglers Hill Farm would be too close to Canadian homes, under Canadian standards.
And opposition in the border towns in Vermont was growing. Unlike other large wind projects, where the lure of huge wind turbine tax payments prompted votes of support in rural host towns of Sheffield and Lowell, the financial incentive for Derby was going to be minimal for two turbines.
In the end, Derby didn’t hold a town-wide vote, and the Derby Select Board was divided, with more opposed than in favor. Holland Select Board was set to vote June 4, likely to oppose it. Derby Line Village voters and Stanstead’s town council had already voted against it.
Derby Selectman Karen Jenne, who opposed the project from the beginning, said she was pleased with the decision by Encore.
“It’s the results of lots of hard work of the community on the border,” she said.
But Jenne said she would have to wait and see what Encore might do in reapplying for the Davis turbine.
Neither could Davis. The Derby farmer said he looked for years for a developer to put turbines on his property. Davis said recently that he picked Encore Redevelopment because it was a Vermont company that wanted to work with the local community, was interested in renewable energy, and was not ruthless like other energy developers.
He had been surprised at the opposition.
Jean Rousseau, member of Canadian Parliament for the Stanstead area, on Friday credited
“It’s their opposition to the project that made Encore question themselves,” Rousseau said.
He called the withdrawal a “first win,” saying he will wait to see what happens next.
“We have to be very vigilant.”
Derby resident Vicki Farrand-Lewis, who went from skeptic to strong opponent, said that it took hard work and effort in the entire community to achieve a partial success.
“We have appreciation for all the effort and time given by countless individuals, groups and governments to stop this project,” she said.
“The developer in withdrawing has admitted the international incident they have caused,” she said, adding that there were many deficiencies in the application by Encore.
“We believe this fight is not over,” she said, vowing to continue to oppose a project that is “inappropriate for this rural, residential international area.”
Farrell issued both a press release and filed a motion to withdraw his application before the PSB, keeping the right to reapply for the Davis turbine in early 2013.
“Encore believes that the two separate projects that comprise Derby Line Wind stand on their own respective merits and meet the high standards required for obtaining a certificate of public good before the state of Vermont’s Public Service Board,” Farrell stated in his press release.
“However, the mounting costs of defending these projects and continuing to develop both turbines have put the entire project at risk. In the spirit of compromise and in order to preserve the overall project, Encore is withdrawing the Smugglers Hill Farm turbine from the Vermont Standard Offer program,” he stated.
Encore’s plan was the only industrial wind turbine proposal to receive approval under the state’s Sustainably Priced Energy Development (SPEED) program for small renewable energy projects of 2.2 megawatts or less. Utilities must pay higher prices for electricity from SPEED projects.
Encore’s attorney Leslie
“To remove the international controversy that has distracted our public officials, including the (PSB) clerk’s office, and to focus its own efforts on the Grand View Farm project, Encore is withdrawing the Smugglers Hill Farm project from the Standard-Offer program.
“Of the two projects, the one proposed for Smugglers Hill Farm is the closest to the Canadian border and it is the project that has generated the most controversy,” she stated.
“However, Encore will continue to pursue the project at Grand View Farm,”
She stated that there was no point in wasting time, money and resources that “cannot lead to construction” without SPEED designation.
“Encore will use the coming months to conduct further outreach and education about the project so that a future filing will have additional demonstrated public support such as that exhibited in early public meetings in the affected communities on both sides of the border,” she stated.
*[note: story appears here as published on May 26, 2012. ~~NWW ed.]