DERBY — State utility regulators are allowing the Derby Line Wind Project application to be withdrawn, changed and resubmitted later, thwarting attempts by opponents to stop the project all together.
But the Vermont Public Service Board said Monday that the developer will have to file a brand new application, present new arguments and expert testimony, and notify all abutting landowners and towns once again if he seeks a turbine on the Grand View Farm in Derby.
Encore Redevelopment filed for a voluntary dismissal without prejudice of the Derby Line Wind Project application for two turbines in Derby. Chad Farrell of Encore has already said that Encore would no longer seek permission for a turbine on the Smugglers Hill Farm closer to the U.S.-Canadian border.
But he is seeking to have state officials extend what’s called a standard offer contract for the Grand View Farm turbine, which guarantees that utilities would have to pay a preferential rate for any electricity produced by the Grand View Farm turbine. Without that, Farrell has said that it would not be cost effective to put up the 425-foot-tall turbine on the border farm in Derby next to Interstate 91, the Village of Derby Line, and the towns of Holland and Stanstead, Quebec.
The PSB noted that the Derby Line Wind Project proceedings were active, with hearings, testimony and responses already in progress.
Therefore, Encore can’t unilaterally withdraw its application and decide how it wants to reapply. Encore requires PSB approval to withdraw and refile an application, under terms and conditions set by the PSB, according to the order by PSB members James Volz, David Coen and John Burke.
“We are granting the motion and are dismissing the proceeding without prejudice,” the board wrote.
“Encore’s dismissal notice is an attempt to alleviate some of the controversy associated with the Smugglers Hill Farm project, the closer of the two projects to the border with Canada. Encore also wishes to take some additional time to attempt to respond to concerns and questions of members of the surrounding communities before submitting a petition for just the Grand View Farm project.
“We conclude this is a reasonable request,” the PSB noted.
The PSB rejected the request by a group of neighbors called the Holland and Derby Citizens for Responsible Energy plus the town of Holland and John and Sherry Wagner of Holland, all accepted intervenors in the Derby Line Wind Project proceedings.
The board noted that the group of neighbors and the Wagners have misread the state statutes guiding the PSB in this matter.
The group and the Wagners “list a number of what they see as shortcomings and misrepresentations by Encore during this proceeding. However, neither … explain why these should require dismissal with prejudice” which would prevent Encore from filing a new application for a certificate of public good for the Grand View turbine, the board stated.
“While we understand the desire of the intervenors to see both of the proposed projects halted at this juncture, there is no legal basis for dismissing the proceeding with prejudice,” the board stated.
“We do stress, however, that Encore will not be permitted to simply reopen Docket 7832 and continue from the point at which it filed its dismissal notice. We fully expect Encore, if it does decide to continue its efforts with respect to the Grand View Farm project, to file a new petition with supporting testimony and exhibits addressing each applicable Section 248 criterion,” the board stated, and to serve notices on all neighbors and parties required under the law.
La Tribune, a newspaper in Sherbrooke, Quebec, reported Monday that Encore will respect Quebec standards on how close a turbine should be located in proximity to homes.
That was one of the chief complaints against the Smugglers Hill Farm location.
“We are going to respect the Quebec standards in the future,” Farrell told La Tribune.
Canadians like Stanstead resident and wind opponent Linda Hartley are not satisfied with the Quebec distance standards, La Tribune reported.
Encore could apply for two turbines in Derby if the PSB grants preferential electricity rates, but Farrell did not say he would seek approval for a second turbine from the PSB different from the Smugglers Hill Farm location, according to La Tribune.
Encore did initially seek to have preferential rates in the standard offer program for small renewable projects available for a third turbine on the Letourneau farm in Derby. However that proposed turbine did not wind the lottery for a standard offer contract in Vermont and was not part of the two-turbine plan by Encore for the Derby Line Wind Project.