Derby Line wind: Balking on the border
Credit: Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 11 May 2012 ~~
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DERBY – If Derby Selectman Karen Jenne has her way, the Derby Select Board will vote Monday to oppose the Derby Line Wind Project.
And then Jenne hopes that Encore Redevelopment – having lost support from the select board of the host community – will pull the plug on the wind project that has fueled opposition now on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.
The Derby Select Board has already voted to stop negotiating with Encore, with a majority of the board now joining with Jenne in opposing the project.
Encore wants to erect two industrial-grade turbines on border farm fields in Derby, near Derby Line village, Holland and Stanstead, Quebec. Initially, the project received support and found little opposition. But now, it has caused an international uproar.
Jenne said she consulted municipal government experts this week with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the Vermont Secretary of State and successfully argued that the board should discuss the wind project again, despite opposition by Chairman Brian Smith.
The issue is on the agenda as posted on the town’s website for the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the town office meeting room.
Jenne wants the board to formally vote on the project, which it has not done. She said the town has spent enough time discussing it. “Let’s get it done and move on,” she said.
She has discussed the pending motion with some other board members.
With a majority now opposed to the project, Jenne wants to send a clear signal that the project is not wanted.
GMP On Agenda
Wind projects look to dominate discussion at the Monday meeting.
The agenda shows that the select board will hear about plans by Green Mountain Power to truck wind turbine parts from Island Pond rail yards through Derby on the way to the Lowell wind project.
The plan is to drive on Route 105 from Island Pond to Charleston to Derby Center to reach Interstate 91. The trucks would then go exit I-91 at Orleans and then take Route 58 through Irasburg to Lowell.
GMP officials are meeting with towns all along the route and have filed a plan with the state.
In the Derby Line Wind Project, Stanstead has now officially joined the communities of Derby, Derby Line and Holland as municipalities with status to intervene in the hearings before state utility regulators with the Vermont Public Service Board.
John Cotter, a hearing officer for the board, issued an order Wednesday granting Stanstead party status to challenge some details in the wind project.
Cotter said Stanstead can raise issues involving orderly development in the area, potential impacts on the environment, historic sites and aesthetics immediately north of the U.S.-Canadian border near the turbine sites, and potential impacts on the water supply and purity that may result from impacts to the infrastructure of International Water Company that belongs to Stanstead and neighboring Derby Line village.
Cotter said Stanstead cannot participate in any discussion over the economic benefit the project would have to Vermont.
He accepted Stanstead’s arguments in explaining why it was late in applying for the intervenor status.
Cotter has also granted intervenor status to two groups of residents living in Derby and Holland.
In his order, he did not mention requests for participation in the regulatory process mailed to the PSB by 150 Canadian residents.
Canadians Seek Status
Lynda Hartley, a Stanstead resident whose home would be one of the closest north of the border to the proposed turbines, wrote a letter in April to the PSB listing her concerns.
She said in an e-mail to The Orleans County Record that she also helped neighbors, many who don’t speak English, mail similar letters to the PSB.
Cotter gave no indication that any of those residents are being considered for status.
He did issue an order this week suspending the schedule in the docket for Derby Line Wind. Encore has filed a new proposed schedule that sets hearings for mid-summer, and has announced that the turbines would not be erected until next year at this point.
The dates are still being discussed by some of the parties.
Cotter said that he is awaiting comment on the proposed schedule from the intervenors.
Encore had not properly notified some Vermont abutting landowners and was ordered by Cotter to send late notification to those landowners and to those abutting in Canada. These delays have pushed the whole hearing process back.
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