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Derby Line wind hearing: speakers divided over turbines  

Credit:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 28 March 2012 ~~

DERBY LINE – Opinions were evenly divided over the Derby Line Wind Project at a public hearing that drew over 100 people Monday evening to the Derby Elementary School.

An official with state electricity regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board took verbal and written testimony about the plan to erect two industrial-grade wind turbines on hilly farm fields east of Derby Line.

The hearing opened with a request by dairy farmers Bryan and Susie Davis for the state to approve the project. Bryan Davis said his family put up a small wind mill and “we realized we had quite a wind resource.”

They did research on safety and decided a large turbine would be appropriate.

They said they wouldn’t seek a turbine if they thought it would harm their own family members and animals or their neighbors.

The hearing closed with a comment by Derby resident Maureen Fontain, who summed up some of the criticism aired about the wind turbines.

To the Davises, she said, “I wish you well but I can’t say I’m for the big ones. They’re just too big.”

Encore Redevelopment wants to raise two 427-foot turbines on Grandview Farm owned by the Davises and nearby Smugglers Hill Farm near the Derby/Holland town line.

The company has asked for two certificates of public good from the Public Service Board to raise the turbines later this year. Temporary hearing officer Mary Jo Krolewski told those present that she was not there to hear from the wind developer but to take testimony. She told anyone with questions to talk to Chad Farrell of Encore, who was in the audience, after the meeting.

The public hearing began the board’s formal process for considering energy projects. The assigned hearing officer, who was ill and did not attend Monday’s hearing, is expected to schedule technical hearings on the project later this spring.

The towns of Derby and Holland and villages of Derby Line and Derby Center have filed motions to become parties in the technical hearings. The towns and Derby Center have hired an attorney to represent their interests in negotiations over payments from Encore.

The board will consider all the testimony, including whatever is mailed to the board in writing, as part of the hearing process.

Divided Hearing

An informal tally showed that the speakers Monday were evenly divided, half in favor of the wind project and half opposed.

Most in favor were local residents. Those opposed were local residents and some from elsewhere in the county, including several who are actively opposed to the Lowell wind project.

Mike Nelson of Albany lamented the fact that the Lowell wind project is inevitable and urged Derby residents to not depend on the Public Service Board to research the impacts of wind turbines. He called the board “a rubber stamp” for energy projects.

Harvey McDonald, who owns one of the three small wind mills in the area, was one of a group of Derby farmers who asked for support of the large turbines.

They said they need the income and renewable energy from the turbines. Farmers said they should be allowed to use their land as they see fit.

Other neighbors raised concerns about health, particularly citing a Massachusetts study that they said indicates pressure waves from turbine blades cause health effects in those who live too close to turbines.

Dick Fletcher, who owns a bed and breakfast in Derby Line, raised questions about the impacts on health of large turbines.

He and others said there are hundreds of homes within two miles of the proposed turbine sites, including those in nearby Stanstead, Quebec.

“We don’t need to create an international incident with our Canadian allies,” he said.

Derby Selectwoman Karen Jenne said that the developer had not followed the rules in notifying neighboring towns and residents, and asked that the whole process be delayed until the rules are followed.

Derby resident Vicky Lewis said many live in Derby because of its rural nature and did not want to see industrialization.

Several neighbors, like Grant Spates, talked about the potential for economic growth in the area because of the turbines, saying their location with easy access to local roads would make a great tourist attraction and site for school tours.

“I do support it in my backyard,” Spates said.

Adam Batista, a college student from Derby, lobbied for renewable energy projects. He said his generation is worried about global warming.

Others said wind energy does not reduce the need for carbon-based power sources since it is intermittent and unreliable.

Neighbor Rick Joyal said he worried about property values, a main concern of neighbors. “I personally wouldn’t buy a house near one,” he said of the turbines.

Source:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 28 March 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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