Public Service Board grants citizens' request to postpone hearings on the Deerfield Wind Project due to gross abuse of process by project owner
Vermont (September 23, 2008) – At the start of Public Service Board hearings on Monday, September 22, regarding the proposed Deerfield Wind Project (Docket #7250), a motion to suspend hearings was filed by Save Vermont Ridgelines, Inc., Industrial Wind Action Group, Inc., Thomas Shea, Duncan Cable TV, and Cliff and Diana Duncan, all of whom are pro se intervening parties in the Deerfield proceedings.
The basis of this emergency motion was the gross abuse of discovery procedures in producing an enormous overload of documents on the last day before the hearings were to begin, many of which are more than two months old.
At the end of the day on Friday, September 19, attorneys for Deerfield Wind, LLC, e-mailed to all of the intervening parties sixty-one separate electronic files containing numerous documents and totaling fifteen megabytes. Much of this newly disclosed information was crucial to hearings scheduled to start on Monday. The parties argued that most of the documents were two to three months old and all of the documents should have been provided weeks earlier.
The Board appeared to accept the argument, which was largely supported by attorneys for the Agency of Natural Resources and the Department of Public Service, that the late filing of this massive number of important documents placed the public at a distinct disadvantage and undermined the ability of the Board to have a full record presented to it. The Board also seemed to be troubled by the fact that the recently released draft of the Federal Environmental Impact Statement being prepared by the US Forest Service (the Project is proposed for the Green Mountain National Forest) made it difficult for the parties to fully respond to that draft document and prepare for and participate in the Vermont hearings.
The board entertained parties arguments that approval of this emergency motion would also allow parties to review the draft EIS study.
The new date for hearings to begin, agreed to by Deerfield Wind and all other parties, is December 1, 2008.
About SVR: Save Vermont Ridgelines is a non-profit citizens group formed to protect Vermont Ridgelines from damaging environmental impacts of industrial wind energy development. Information about the organization is available through its website, www.clearskyvt.org.