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DERBY – The developer proposing to erect two industrial-scale wind turbines here has offered annual “community benefit payments” to Derby worth up to $78,760 or more over the next two decades.
Encore Redevelopment says the initial offer is comparable to payments per turbine as part of a contract that Green Mountain Power made with the town of Lowell for hosting the Lowell wind project.
The company has also offered to make “good-neighbor” payments of $15,000 annually to the village of Derby Line and to the town of Holland over the next 20 years; both are near the wind projects.
In Holland, Encore officials said the amount would just about cover the electricity costs of the town school and other facilities.
Encore wants to raise two 429-foot turbines on two hillside farms in Derby between Derby Line and Holland and the U.S.-Canadian border. The turbines would have a capacity to generate 2.2 megawatts each and would also be visible in Stanstead, Quebec.
Encore has applied for a certificate of public good from state regulators with the Vermont Public Service Board. State law doesn’t say how much a wind project generating less than five megawatts of electricity should pay in property taxes, although there is a bill pending in the Legislature.
The Derby select board discussed the Encore offer at a special meeting Friday specifically about the wind project. The select board also voted to intervene in the hearings over the Derby Line Wind Project and has hired an attorney, according to Selectwoman Karen Jenne.
Select board members Beula-Jean Shattuck, Steve Gendreau and Jenne voted in favor of intervening, Jenne said. Select Board Chairman Brian Smith, who was sick and did not attend the meeting, called board members and said he supported becoming a party in the hearing process, Jenne said.
Selectwoman Laura Dolgin did not attend the meeting.
Jenne said the board members said they want questions being raised by residents answered by Encore.
The Derby Line Village trustees and the Derby Center Village trustees have also voted to seek party status.
The Holland Select Board is considering it this week.
The deadline to intervene is Wednesday, prompting local municipal boards to scramble to decide if they want to participate in the hearing process. But the deadline for some people has been extended because of the cancellation of a public hearing last week due to bad weather.
John Cotter, the attorney handling the docket for the PSB, decided to extend the intervention deadline in some cases, said that sometimes people decide they want to intervene after hearing comments at a public hearing. A new public hearing date hasn’t been set.
The deadline to intervene will be a week after the hearing date, but Cotter said any late filers would have to explain why they didn’t try to intervene sooner. Cotter, in a schedule order issued Thursday, said he understood that Encore wanted to move quickly in the hearing process. “I am keenly aware of Encore’s timing needs related to the scheduled expiration of the federal production tax credits,” he said, plus the deadline for commissioning one of the turbines is this year.
“However, parties are entitled to due process and Encore would have been better served had it filed its petition many months before it did,” he said.
He suggested that Encore could move the process quickly by getting a global settlement on all issues with the parties, including the towns and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Department of Public Service.
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