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Derby seeks more time to research project

DERBY – The Derby Select Board is asking for more time to cut a deal with the developer of the Derby Line Wind Project.

The board says that another 30 days are needed to craft a comprehensive agreement with Encore Redevelopment.

State utility regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board gave Derby until May 14 to settle on agreements with Encore about the two proposed turbines, just like the agreements that were reached between other wind developers and host towns.

The Derby Select Board hired attorney Richard Saudek to negotiate the contract with Encore – the same attorney who represented Lowell in its dealings with Green Mountain Power over the Lowell wind project.

But Derby residents pressed to have more input on what the contract should include. The select board recently created a committee to come up with recommendations – after the regulatory process had already begun.

The committee and the select board met Tuesday, listened to community members’ concerns and then the select board voted to discuss potential contract language with the committee behind closed doors, Select Board Chairman Brian Smith said.

Smith said the board emerged from the closed session and voted to ask Saudek to seek the extra time for the committee to do its work. Saudek will take the town’s case for more time to the hearing officer handling the Derby Line Wind Project for the PSB.

The committee wants more time for research. And it would take time for any recommendations from the committee to be heard by the select board, voted on and then sent to Saudek for negotiations with Encore, Derby zoning administrator Bob Kelley said.

Selectman Karen Jenne, who is on the committee, said that the committee is focusing on five different issues: noise, health of local residents, blasting, impacts on animals, and decommissioning.

She said the town could seek to set higher standards than the PSB in some areas.

The application for certificates of public good for the two industrial turbines being proposed by Encore for two Derby farms is being scrutinized by the various parties in the process. Encore continues to explain the project to local residents.

Meanwhile, the town council in Stanstead, Quebec, an abutting town to the two turbine sites, voted this week to seek to intervene in the process and to oppose it.

PSB hearing officer John Cotter ordered Encore to notify abutting property owners in nearby Quebec towns. But he did not promise that Quebec municipalities or abutting property owners across the border would be guaranteed a right to intervene in the hearing process.

Cotter has also not announced whether he would allow a group of residents in Derby and Holland to intervene in the process as well.