DERBY – The Vermont Public Service Board could require opponents of the Derby Line Wind Project to work together to avoid delays in regulatory hearings this summer.
So far, the board’s hearing officer John Cotter has granted intervenor status to a formed group of Derby and Holland residents, plus three other individual property owners in Derby and Holland. The towns of Derby, Holland and Stanstead, Quebec, plus the village of Derby Line and some state agencies are already intervenors.
But Cotter warned in an order issued late Friday that there is precedent for parties with similar interests to work together when challenging an energy project.
In the order, Cotter granted intervenor status to John and Sherry Wagner of Holland. They live a mile and a third from the wind turbine proposed by Encore Redevelopment for the Grandview Farm near Interstate 91 in Derby, and nearly a mile from the turbine proposed for the Smugglers Hill Farm in Derby near the Holland town line.
The Wagners were prominent in alerting Cotter and the PSB that Encore had failed to properly notify all abutting landowners about Encore’s application for certificates of public good for the two turbines.
That failure prompted Cotter to push the hearing schedule back into late summer and to give more time to seek party status for those who were notified late, including Canadian property owners.
The deadline to seek to intervene was Monday. According to opponents, many Canadian residents have also asked to participate in the hearings. Cotter has not indicated how he is handling those applications. Encore can challenge any application to intervene.
Cotter said the Wagners can participate during the hearings over noise, shadow flicker and economic impact, noting they will be representing themselves and not by an attorney.
“The Wagners are concerned about prolonged periods of shadow flicker and potential detrimental impacts to their well being as a result. The Wagners are also concerned about potential impacts from noise emissions, including low frequency noise emissions, and question the modeling done by Encore on noise levels and shadow flicker,” Cotter wrote.
Cotter said Encore could challenge the Wagners’ stance on economic impact on the value of their property, because the project is enrolled in the state’s standard-offer program for renewable energy that are 2.2 megawatts each or less.
Each turbine of 425 feet tall would have the capacity to generate 2.2 megawatts of electricity or less, Encore says.
A group of residents that has intevenor status to oppose the project – Holland and Derby Citizens for Responsible Energy (HDCRE) – filed a motion supporting the Wagners, saying that their property offers a unique perspective on the project.
The Vermont Department of Public Service, which is the electricity consumer advocate for Vermonters, supports the Wagners’ request to participate.
In his order, Cotter warned those representing themselves that they still have to file copies of every document with all the parties and to follow the rules as if they were attorneys.
Cotter declined at this time to force parties to work together in preparing testimony and discovery and the examination of witnesses.
But he opened the door for Encore to formally ask the board to consolidate parties.
“I do encourage the intervenors to work together to the extent that they have the same interests. Participation as a formal party in a board proceeding can at times be time-consuming and require considerable effort. Parties with similar interests may find it beneficial to coordinate their efforts,” Cotter wrote.
“If the number of parties results in problems with the schedule moving forward, I will reconsider my decision on this issue if requested by a party.”
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