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Derby Line wind project causes international contention

STANSTEAD, QUE./DERBY LINE, VT – Many Canadian citizens are very concerned over the proposal to build two industrial size wind turbines just east of Derby Line near the U.S.-Canadian border.

Stanstead, a Quebec town immediately north of the border, was not officially notified about the Derby Line Wind project, even though they are abutters. When the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) discovered this, the developer was directed to officially notify Stanstead. Stanstead received notification after the PSB public hearing.

Now that the Canadians are aware, they want their voices heard. Approximately 40 residents turned out for a meeting with the Stanstead Council on April 4 and stated their concerns over the project, with developer Chad Farrell present.

Mayor Philippe Dutil of Stanstead said Tuesday that he sent a letter to the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) asking for another hearing since the Canadian abutters did not receive notice in time to participate in the first one. The PSB denied the request and told Dutil the PSB is accepting written comments. The letter notes that comments made at public hearings are not recorded as evidence. The PSB will hear evidence at technical hearings, which are not scheduled yet.

The letter goes on to say that Stanstead could seek intervener status, but since the deadline has passed, the town will have to explain why the request wasn’t made before the deadline. The Town of Derby, Village of Derby Line, Village of Derby Center, and Town of Holland are all parties.

Dutil said Thursday that Stanstead is going to seek to intervene, but he is not sure who will represent the town. The issue is up for discussion at a council work meeting. The council holds official meetings the first Monday of every month, but has work meetings as needed to discuss current issues.

Dutil said he has read about problems related to large turbines and he will continue conducting research.

Chad Farrell with Encore Redevelopment said that discussions with Stanstead are on-going but the company has not offered the town any monetary payment. The developer has mentioned paying the Town of Derby around $75,000 annually, and the town of Holland and the Village of Derby Line $15,000 each annually for the life of the project or about 20 years.

Stanstead residents Lynda and Terrance Hartley are among those with concerns. Lynda Hartley said Wednesday that the sugar bush tree line is about 100 feet tall, and she cannot believe the turbines are going to be more than 300 feet taller than the tree line. The Hartleys chose the location for their home mainly because of the “magnificent view” towards Holland and Derby. “Now they’re going to stick a giant eyesore there,” she said.

The Hartleys were unaware of the project until the town received notice. “We were shocked.”

The notice was sent in English only, so Hartley translated it for several of her neighbors who only speak French.

Despite the short notice, several still attended the Stanstead meeting on April 4 to state their concerns.

Of main concern to the Hartleys and others are issues related to infrasound such as disturbed sleep, and other health problems, shadow flicker and glare, ice throw, or equipment problems such as blade breakage and throw, and death of migratory birds from flight path disruption. The Hartleys said another concern is the effect from blasting and underground vibrations on the water system.

Lynda Hartley questioned whether the developer would come across the border to check the system before and after construction and correct any problems that could result. “It’s so scary for us.”

Farrell says that a sound study is underway, which considers low frequency and infrasound, and says shadow flicker at most would be about 15 to 20 minutes a day when sunny.

Lynda Hartley said she has heard from people who have lived next to the turbines and suffered problems, including health problems, inability to sell property, and abandoning homes.

Talking to the developer does not appeal to Lynda Hartley. She said the only statement she wants to hear is the project will be constructed away from residential areas. “I’m all for green energy when it doesn’t affect people.”

Comments on the project can be sent to the PSB by email psb.clerk@state.vt.us or by mail to Vermont PSB 112 State St., Montpelier VT 05620. The letter from the PSB states that although comments are not part of the evidence, “They play an important role by raising new issues or offering perspectives that the Board should consider and ask interested parties to submit evidence on.”