A handful of people posed questions about insurance, health impacts and property values Monday evening to the developers of two large wind turbines planned for Derby.
Chad Farrell of Encore Redevelopment said his company, partners and the project’s contractors would have enough insurance to cover any problems caused by construction and operation of two turbines on the Grand View and Smugglers Hill farms on the hills above Interstate 91 and Derby Line.
He has hired a blasting expert to look at the impact of blasting on local water lines and reservoirs to prepare the hilltop sites, Farrell said.
There have been questions made in person and online about wind turbines generally about noise and health impacts, he said.
There is a lot of information out there, Farrell said, “some accurate, some not so much.”
His goal, he said, was to make local people comfortable with the project.
He spoke Monday evening at the Derby Board of Selectmen’smeeting before about 20 people, including developers, farmers involved, Derby town officials and members of the press. Only three people raised concerns about potential negative impacts of the turbines.
Encore Redevelopment and partners want to erect two wind turbines of about 427 feet tall or less on two border farm fields to the east of I-91 in Derby. The turbines would be visible from Holland, parts of Derby, Derby Line and nearby Stanstead, Quebec.
Encore Redevelopment has applied for a certificate of public good from state electricity regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board. A copy is available at the town halls in Derby and Holland, at the Derby Line village hall and online at www.encoreredevelopment.com.
Farrell is scheduled to talk 6:45 p.m. Monday at the Holland Board of Selectmen’s meeting in the Holland clerk’s office.
He urged area residents with questions to contact him at 802-233-3023.
The property tax value of the turbines for a project that produces less than 5 megawatts of electricity has yet to be determined by the Vermont Department of Taxes, he said.
“It’s in no-man’s land” when it comes to tax policy, he said.
Mitch Wonson of Holland, speaking on behalf of Holland selectmen, raised questions about health impacts from aesthetics and noise on local residents and impacts on property values.
Ninety percent of Holland would be able to see one or both of the turbines, creating an adverse impact, he said. The view would not be an undue adverse impact, he said.
The PSB set a precedent in past decisions that an energy project would have to have an “undue adverse” impact before the board would rule against it.
Wonson questioned a noise study by Encore Redevelopment that showed that the background noise level near one turbine site was high.
He said those noise tests were taken last fall in a 48-hour period when it was sometimes raining and there were heavy insect noises.
He asked for another noise study. And he also asked that Encore Redevelopment create a mitigation plan in case the turbines when installed are noisier than allowed by the PSB.
Wonson asked if Encore had looked at the impact of noise on horses and cows as well as people and cited a study out of Massachusetts on a turbine there, which was critical of the noise produced.
And Wonson said the town of Derby reduced the property taxes by 10 percent on a neighbor of Vincent Illuzzi off Shattuck Hill Road. Illuzzi owns a small windmill.
“We hope our concerns are not dismissed,” Wonson said for the Holland board.
Studies have shown that there are few property value impacts from wind projects, Farrell said. He admitted that the turbines do have an adverse impact on the view, but not an undue adverse impact.
Wind turbines – small ones – are a part of the Derby landscape, he noted.
He promised a monitoring plan to measure background noise in winter, when it isn’t raining. However, he said the background noise is louder on the hills in part because of the persistent winds.
The turbines would be shut down during high-noise periods, he said.
“We take very seriously any health impacts,” Farrell said.
Susan Taylor of Derby told Farrell that she suffers from Meunier’s disease. Spinning objects cause nausea and vertigo in anyone with the disease.
The three small windmills in Derby do not affect her, Taylor said. However, she has to avert her eyes when driving near the industrial-sized turbines in Sheffield.
She worried that she would have to move from her home if anyone builds a turbine close by.
Farrell said a wind project in Maine has generated a lot of criticism because the turbines were erected too close to local homes. In general, he said, thousands of turbines operate without adverse effects.
Developers of wind turbines have not been successfully sued for health reasons, he said.
“You have our word we will treat this project with the utmost integrity,” Farrell said.
Derby Selectman Karen Jenne, also clerk of Derby Line, said she didn’t believe that the developer and contractor would have enough insurance or bonds to cover every problem that could happen during construction of the turbines.
The contractor would have a $10 million bond, Farrell said.
“We have to have insurance,” he said, and would contract with well-known insurance carriers that cover energy companies.
Jenne also asked if Encore had studied the effects that the turbine generator would have on the automatic readings at the reservoir.
Farrell said he had never heard of that kind of effect.
Jenne said that Encore should provide more copies of the nearly 500-page application to area towns so that some could go to the library and other locations.
Farrell said that copies are already available and more would be costly, but he would look into it.
Taylor asked if approval of two turbines would open the door for more.
Farrell said the transmission line could handle up to three turbines. Encore Redevelopment would like to erect a turbine on the Letourneau farm.
Keith Beadle, Derby Line trustees chairman, asked where society would get its electricity if every source other than fossil fuels is opposed.
The area is depending on oil and nuclear energy rather than locally generated energy, he said.
Farrell expects PSB to assign at docket number for the Derby wind project soon and set up a hearing schedule.
He hopes to have the turbines erected before the end of the year.
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