DERBY – A Derby committee has little time to help the Derby Select Board and its attorney craft a contract with the Derby Line Wind developer.
So chairwoman Sue Best, a Derby lister, laid down the law at Tuesday’s meeting at the town office.
Best told the committee members and several people in the audience that she would not allow lengthy discussions or a rehashing of complaints about the two industrial wind turbines proposed for farm fields in Derby.
“This committee has a large task before it,” Best said.
“We have to have a product by May 7,” she said, adding that the committee has to assume that they won’t get a requested extra month to do their work.
The request for more time has gone to the attorney for state utility regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board, but the town has not received an answer.
The hearing process is already underway over Encore Redevelopment’s application for certificates of public good for the two 425-foot-tall turbines for farms between the village of Derby Line and town of Holland on the border.
The select board asked the committee to come up with proposed language for a contract between the town and Encore. The hearing officer John Cotter said that he wants to see a draft contract, if there is going to be one, by May 13.
Best wants the committee to present its proposal to the select board by May 7 at the latest.
In the meantime, any contract language that is completed will be sent to the town’s attorney Richard Saudek for consideration, she said.
Saudek worked for the town of Lowell in crafting a contract with Green Mountain Power over the Lowell wind project.
“We have been asked to use the Lowell agreement as a guide,” Best said.
She pointed out that the Lowell wind project, intended for the ridgeline on Lowell mountain, is quite different than the Derby Line Wind Project. The Derby turbine sites are in the working landscape and are closer to nearby neighborhoods in Derby Line, Holland and Stanstead, Quebec than the Lowell turbine sites.
The Lowell agreement “doesn’t include everything we want and does include some things we don’t want,” Best said.
But she said the committee needed that contract as a basis on which to build language that works for Derby.
The Lowell agreement nails down the payments that GMP will make annually to Lowell once the turbines begin to operate. Lowell would receive more than $500,000 annually over the 20-year contract.
Encore has offered annual payments of $78,000 to Derby.
The Derby committee wants to decide what Derby wants in payments, without guidance from the state tax experts, Best said.
The committee heard several questions about the process before voting to go into executive session to work on contractual matters.
When asked why the committee needed to go behind closed doors, Best said that the committee is preparing a “work product” in writing that will be shared with the town’s attorney and the select board. “We must be discreet because it’s in negotiations,” she said.
While the committee deliberates, Saudek is in negotiations with Encore on the contract.
And the Public Service Board is moving ahead with the schedule over the wind project. The hearing officer last week denied intervenor status to a local group of residents, saying they missed the deadline and were too late to apply. But he said they had legitimate issues to raise and gave them hope that if they could provide a good enough explanation of why they missed the deadline they would be given status to challenge Encore’s experts.