State utility regulators are reviewing the proposal for two industrial-grade wind turbines on Derby farms near the U.S.-Canadian border.
The Vermont Public Service Board will decide if the turbine projects will be handled on a streamlined basis or be treated like a major project similar to those in Lowell or Sheffield, according to Susan Hudson, PSB clerk.
The Encore Derby Line Wind project has already prompted a lot of comment since developer Encore Redevelopment applied for a certificate of public good in early December.
Encore asked the PSB to accept the application, set up a pre-hearing conference and public hearing “as soon as practicable.” Citing a tight time frame, Encore’s attorneys asked if the PSB could open a file for the project before the end of the year.
The town of Holland has already asked for more time to look at the project, as have critics of the turbines.
Encore’s attorneys also asked that the project be considered under a streamlined process appropriate for projects under the state’s Sustainably Priced Energy Development Program.
A complicating factor is that Encore filed one application for two certificates of public good, one for each turbine. Encore needs the separate certificates in order to comply with the size limit of projects allowed under the SPEED program.
SPEED guarantees a 20-year contract for small renewable projects less than 2.2 megawatts. Each of the proposed turbines would have the capacity to generate up to 2.2 megawatts.
Encore asked PSB to certify that the two turbines for Derby are SPEED projects.
Encore wants to erect two turbines no taller than 427 feet, depending on the type of turbine selected.
The turbines would be the quietest available, developers said.
The first site is Grand View Farm, above Interstate 91 east of Derby Line. The Roy family owns the farm, where a small windmill has operated for years.
The second site is Smugglers Hill Farm off Goodall Road, owned by the Chase family, 3,000 feet from the Grand View Farm.
Both sites are open fields that are easily accessible from existing roads.
Both projects have a standard-offer contract with Vermont Electric Cooperative, required through the SPEED program. VEC determined that the local grid could handle the electricity from the turbines.
Encore wants to receive its certificates by June 15, 2012. The developers hope both projects would be completed by the end of 2012 to secure federal production tax credits.
The Grand View Farm project must be commissioned by January 2013 to meet the standard-offer contract, the developer said.
The Smugglers Hill Farm project could be commissioned by June 2014.
Encore filed supporting documents showing its studies on the impacts of the projects.
Encore met several times with members of Derby and Derby Line boards and with the council in nearby Stanstead, Quebec during the summer.
The developers had hoped to apply earlier this fall but held off while studies were done on environmental impacts and other issues, including whether blasting would affect a back-up reservoir that serves the International Water Company of Derby Line and Stanstead.
Officials from Derby Line and Stanstead asked the developers to investigate that after Derby Selectman Karen Jenne, a critic of the project, raised the question.
A blasting expert has determined that the closest proposed turbine would be too far away, at 4,000 feet, from the reservoir and water line to have any impact.
A typical radius of impact for blasting at a granite quarry would be 2,500 feet.
A noise expert hired by Encore found that noise from the turbines at nearby homes would be lower than levels allowed at other wind projects.
The owner of a horse farm near the Smugglers Hill Farm site is concerned. The expert found that noise at the barn would be “virtually inaudible” compared to insect noise in summer.
In winter, the barn would be closed, reducing the sound, he said.
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