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Derby Line: wind public hearing set

Vermont regulators will conduct a public hearing on the Derby Line wind project March 1 in Derby Line.

Hearing Officer John Cotter of the Vermont Public Service Board will preside at the hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Derby Elementary School on Elm Street.

Cotter will take verbal and written testimony at the hearing. Developers are expected to explain the basics of the project for interested area residents. Cotter and other board officials are expected to tour the proposed sites near the Canadian border the same day.

The Public Service Board, which would decide whether to approve the wind project, would not conduct the hearing. That’s unlike what happened in Lowell, when the full three-member board conducted the hearing in 2010 about the Lowell wind project.

The PSB, as utility regulators, granted a certificate of public good last year for 21 industrial-grade turbines on the Lowell ridgeline to Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative. That project is under construction even while some aspects of the certificate are still being considered and while opponents are appealing.

In Derby Line, Encore Redevelopment wants to erect two industrial-grade wind turbines on two farm fields near Derby Line on the border.

The turbines on Grandview Farm and Smugglers Hill Farm would be located on hillsides between Interstate 91 to the west and the town of Holland to the east.

The turbines, proposed to be between 415 and 427 feet from base to blade tip, would be visible in Derby, Derby Line, Holland, parts of Morgan and Charleston and in nearby Stanstead, Quebec.

The developers presented their petition for certificates to the board in December. Encore wanted to have the certificates in hand by early May to order the turbines.

Cotter conducted a pre-hearing workshop in Montpelier Monday, where he did not accept their proposed and self-described aggressive schedule.

But Cotter kept part of the schedule, making it possible that the project hearings could be wrapped up by summer.

The deadline to seek to be a party in the hearing process is set for March 7.

Cotter asked Encore why Canadian property owners whose land abuts the two farms were not officially notified.

Encore’s attorney is expected to address that and other questions in the coming weeks.