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PSB promises “due process” in Derby wind project

DERBY – Derby Line Village Clerk Karen Jenne, who also serves on the Derby Select Board, was one of four area residents to go to Montpelier Monday for a prehearing conference on the proposed Derby Line Wind Project.
The Derby Line Trustees and the Village of Derby Center Trustees authorized Jenne to represent each at the hearing. Jenne was also authorized to represent the International Water Company.
The Derby Select Board did not agree to allow Jenne to represent the town and decided to instead send Bob Kelley, the town’s zoning administrator. At a recent select board meeting, Jenne had asked the board to represent the town in Montpelier. Select board member Laura Dolgin objected to Jenne’s request.
Dolgin stated that Jenne had a personal problem with the project, and said Jenne was welcome to attended as an interested resident.
Kelley attended the prehearing conference, as did Dolgin.
At the hearing, the Public Service Board (PSB) had many questions regarding the proposed wind project. John Cotter, the hearing officer with the PSB, asked why Canadian abutters were not notified about the project.
Leslie Caldwell, attorney for Encore Redevelopment, the firm proposing the project, said that it was too difficult to find property owner records in Canada and questioned whether the board had jurisdiction over Canadians.
Cotter said that everyone within a ten mile radius is supposed to be notified. Caldwell was asked to provide a written response within the next week and a half as to why Canadian neighbors were not notified.
Other concerns raised at the meeting included why certain information was not provided in the proposal, such as a decommissioning plan and information on noise monitoring after the project is built. Cotter also asked about a lack of testimony on shadow flicker, ice throw, and a bird and bat study.
Cotter noted that Encore plans describe 2.3 megawatt turbines, when the Vermont SPEED program, the program the developers say the project falls under, stipulates a maximum amount is 2.2 megawatts.
Caldwell said Encore will provide the answers the board requested.
Mitch Wonson, chairman of the Holland Planning Commission, who was asked by the town’s select board to represent them during the process, also attended the meeting. Wonson noted that Holland has questions on noise, aesthetics, and fire safety. Wonson would like to know how the water line that serves Holland fire hydrants would be impacted by the project. He said his questioned have yet to be answered by the developers.
The developers have an aggressive schedule for the project, because they hope to secure certain funding and tax credits.
Cotter expressed concern over the timeline. Cotter said that if there are no interveners, then the process would move more quickly. He noted that wind project are creating controversy and he anticipates interveners, and they are “going to get their due process.”
Anyone wishing intervener status has until March 7 to make the request.
The PSB will hold a public Hearing on March 1, 7:00 p.m., at the Derby Elementary School.
Encore has sought two Certificates of Public Good – to construct a wind turbine at Grandview Farm and another at Smugglers Hill Farm, just east of Derby Line, near the Canadian border. The proposed turbines would be more than 400 feet tall at the tip of the blade.