The Vermont Public Service Board is seeking a more informative petition for a certificate of public good from a developer seeking to construct and operate a wind generation facility in Readsboro and Searsburg.
According to the original petition submitted in January, the project would be comprised of between 15 and 24 turbines on approximately 80 acres, mostly in the Green Mountain National Forest.
Approximately half of the turbines would be placed on the east side of Route 8 on the same ridgeline as the existing Green Mountain Power Searsburg facility of 11 turnbines. The remaining turbines would be placed on the ridgeline to the west of Route 8 in a northwesterly orientation.
The Jan. 8 petition submitted for the project by Deerfield Wind LLC said it would have a capacity of up to 45 megawatts, “depending on the turbine model selected and the number of turbines.”
A prehearing conference scheduled with the Public Service Board on the petition for March 2 was canceled on Feb. 27. A four-page order dated March 9 from the Vermont Public Service Board sent to Deerfield Wind back to the drawing board. The order said that the board is unable to adequately review the petition. It is requiring “Deerfield to submit a more specific proposal with additional design detail.”
According to the March 9 order, the Vermont Department of Public Service – a separate agency from the Vermont Public Service Board – the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and the Windham Regional Commission – “filed comments questioning whether Deerfield had demonstrated that conceptual approval is appropriate.”
Robert Ide, director of Energy Efficiency for the Vermont Department of Public Service, said that Deerfield Wind is not now technically an applicant before the PSB, because its petition had been withdrawn. It is working on filing a new petition, however. He noted that the original petition was too unclear as to the number of turbines in the project, the type of turbines, their size, location, and how much energy they would generate.
“You’ve got to know what project you’re looking at,” he said.
According to the March 9 order, the original petition does not contain an adequate cost-benefit demonstration as required under the board’s rules to approve the basic concept before all specific details are worked out. “Moreover, we are concerned that the proposal that Deerfield has submitted is not sufficiently concrete for parties or the board to review, whether under conceptual approval or as a final design. Even for a request for conceptual approval, the petitioner needs to illustrate with sufficient specificity what will be built and where.”
The application process for a certificate of public good will include site visits, public hearings, and review of the technology involved.
Andrew N. Raubvogel, one of a team of attorneys from the firm Shems Dunkiel Kassel & Saunders, Montpelier, who is representing Deerfield Wind for the application, said that his firm had just sent a letter to the Public Service Board saying it was working on a new petition for a certificate of public good. He expected that a new petition would be submitted later this spring.
Raubvogel referred further questions to Neil Habig, project manager with Deerfield’s Wind’s parent, PPM Energy, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Scottish Power, a Scottish company that provides electricity generation, transmission, and distribution services in the U.S. and U.K. PPM is headquarters in Portland, Ore. Habig could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In 1997, Green Mountain Power started operating the 11-turbine, 6-megawatt Searsburg wind facility on private lands next to the Green Mountain National Forest land.
A message given Thursday when logging onto the project’s website, deerfieldwind.com, which was accessible earlier this year, says that the site is temporarily disabled. The original petition to the Public Service Board had been posted on the site.
By Mark E. Rondeau
6 April 2007
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