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Wind opponents object to Crystal Lake plaque

SUTTON – Opponents of the First Wind project in Sheffield are protesting an educational sign for Crystal Lake being presented by the company Wednesday at Crystal Lake State Park.

One of the conditions of the wind farm’s approval by the Vermont Public Service Board, require UPC [First Wind] to submit for public comment and board approval, a proposal to place educational signage at Crystal Lake State Park.

A letter of protest was sent late last week to Vermont Public Service Board Clerk Susan M. Hudson by Paul Brouha on behalf of the Ridge Protectors. Brouha objected to the the sign presentation and asked that it be halted.

Brouha also wrote in his letter, dated Friday, about PSB granting a protective order for UPC Vermont Wind’s purchased power agreements filed Feb. 27, 2009.

Referring to Wednesday’s plaque presentation, Brouha wrote, “We presume this plaque is in compliance with Condition 29 of the board’s order concerning Docket No. 7156. We are concerned the board may have overlooked the requirement the parties be given the opportunity to comment concerning Condition #29.”

Brouha is protesting Wednesday’s event and wants it postponed until the conditions of Condition 29 have been met. He also wants an opportunity to comment to the board about the plaque.

“The second issue we raise relates to the price WEC [Washington Electric Company], VEC [Vermont Electric Coop] and BED [Burlington Electric Department] ratepayers will pay for wind power under the proposed power purchase agreements [PPAs] negotiated by UPC/First Wind/Vermont Wind,” wrote Brouha. “Ratepayers need more than assertions by the board, purchasing utilities, and UPC/Vermont Wind that the contracts promote the general good of the state.”

Brouha wants to know “specifically, are the negotiated prices for this unreliably available power competitive with least-cost load options now available? Are the prices pegged to providing a reasonable rate of return to UPC/Vermont Wind [considering all their subsidies] or are they in fact pegged to how much UPC/Vermont Wind can get away with? We feel strongly that prices and price increases should be tied to the real costs of the seller and that this discussion should be held in public session before the board and should include more parties than the board and the Department of Public Service.”

John Lamontagne, First Wind spokesman, said in response to Brouha’s letter, “The project is nearly completed and will be online by Thanksgiving. We’re excited about delivering clean, renewable energy to Vermont homes and businesses. Mr. Brouha has made his views clear on numerous occasions. It is bringing economic opportunity to the region.”