DERBY LINE – Encore Redevelopment LLC, the venture capital firm that proposes to erect two 425-foot-tall wind towers on farms in Derby Line, submitted details of its proposal to the Public Service Board (PSB) last week. The submission of what is called pre-filed testimony marks the opening stage of a process that Encore hopes will result in the granting of two certificates of public good – one for each wind turbine.
Plans call for putting one tower on Grand View Farm, owned by Bryan and Susan Davis, and the other on the Smugglers Hill Farm, owned by Jonathan and Jayne Chase.
In his testimony Chad Farrell, who describes himself as founder and principal of Encore Redevelopment, said a subsidiary, Encore Derby Line Wind, has been formed especially to manage the project.
Mr. Farrell said the power will be sold under a standard-offer contract under the state’s Sustainably Priced Energy Development (SPEED) program.
That program was created by the Legislature to encourage the development of renewable energy in Vermont by setting an artificially high purchase price for a set amount of power generated from the wind or sun.
According to Mr. Farrell’s testimony, Mr. Davis came up with the idea of putting up a large wind turbine on his land and obtained the SPEED contract. He and Blue Wave Capital, a Massachusetts renewable energy company, are now completing an arrangement with Encore, which will manage the project. Encore and Blue Wave are working out an agreement that will also put Encore in charge of the turbine on the Chases’ farm, according to Mr. Farrell’s testimony.
At some of the initial public meetings held in Derby Line and in Derby, some opposition to the project surfaced, mostly based on concerns about noise from the turbines, light flashes, and general aesthetics. Another concern expressed by Derby Selectman Karen Jenne was that blasting for the project might harm a reservoir belonging to the International Water Company, which serves Derby and Stanstead, Quebec.
In testimony filed with the application, Mark Kane said that while the proposed project would have an adverse impact on aesthetics or the scenic or natural beauty of the area from which the towers can be seen, “they will not be so significant as to be unduly adverse.”
In this statement Mr. Kane relied on what is know as the Quechee Test, a standard by which the effects of projects are weighed by state environmental boards. In keeping with that test he offered his opinion that “the Projects will not be shocking or offensive to the average person.”
He cited the limited scale of the project, its placement within a working, active agricultural landscape, and the screening effects of vegetation as mitigating factors. Mr. Kane also said there will be no new roads or major power line upgrades to harm the view.
Mr. Kane also said the turbines would not violate either the Derby Town Plan or the regional plan written by the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA).
In separate testimony, a consultant specializing in noise studies, Howard Quinn, said the project will add little to the noise level in the area around the farms. He said noise levels will be within limits the PSB has found acceptable in past cases.
Mr. Quinn said the noise levels from the project will be “more than 5 decibels below the currently allowed standard of 45 dBA at all Vermont locations except one, and that location would have a level of no more than 42 dBA.”
According to a chart appended to his testimony, 45 dBA is roughly the equivalent of the noise made by a dishwasher operating in the next room. The sound of a quiet urban nighttime is rated at 40 dBA, according to the same source.
Mr. Quinn said he took summer noise measurements in the area near where the towers are to be sited and found noise levels to be high. They peaked at 42 dBA during the afternoon hours, which he attributed to a large amount of insect noise. During the winter the area would be quieter, Mr. Quinn said.
Loud sounds from local insects would tend to drown out the towers in many areas, Mr. Quinn said. In the quieter months a person sitting indoors would experience 25 dBA of sound from the towers, the equivalent of a quiet rural night, according to the chart.
The owner of a nearby horse farm expressed concern about the effect of noise from the turbines on her animals. Mr. Quinn again minimized the problem and said any noise would be masked by the sounds of insects in summer. In winter, he said, the horses would be exposed to 35 dBA, the sound of a quiet suburban night.
Mr. Quinn was asked about a neighbor of the turbine with an llness that causes sensitivity to noise. He acknowledged that this person might have problems during the quiet winter, but said sound proofing the person’s home should help.
The only way to tell if the neighbor actually will suffer ill effects from the project is to expose her to a similar turbine for an extended period, Mr. Quinn said.
Ian Jewkes, a consulting engineer, addressed construction ssues, including blasting. He said hat the International Water Company has expressed concerns about the effect blasting might have on its covered reservoir, located about 3,900 feet south of the Grandview turbine.
Mr. Jewkes said the reservoir will be inspected before and after blasting work is done to insure that the water company is not saddled with any repair costs that should be Encore’s responsibility.
Mr. Jewkes said a blaster consulted in the course of preparing his testimony said considering the amount of material that has to be moved for the turbine project, a survey of the area within 1,000 feet of the project would suffice.
Extending the area to 2,500 feet from the blasting site is very conservative, the consultant said, and would normally be done only in he case of quarry type blasting.
Mr. Jewkes said a final selection of turbines has not been made, but said each would produce between 1.6 megawatts and 2.2 megawatts of power.
Aegis Wind, the company that will perform the actual installation of the turbines, said decommissioning he turbines at the end of their useful life is expected to yield a profit of about $60,000 per unit. That, the company explained, is due to the ability to sell components of the turbines for their scrap value. Each unit contains, for instance, 15 tons of copper and many times that amount of steel.
People who wish to object to Encore’s testimony have 30 days to file their objections with the PSB.