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Derby Line wind: developer pulls plug on project for now

DERBY–– The developer for the proposed Derby Line Wind Project filed to withdraw from the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) proceedings on May 24th. Encore Redevelopment of Burlington wanted to construct two turbines, each more than 420 feet tall at the tip of the blade, on two farms in Derby Line. However the developer, Chad Farrell who is withdrawing for now, plans to file again in early 2013, but for only one turbine.

The turbine for Smugglers Hill Farm is terminated from future plans by Encore, according to a press release from Farrell, but the plans for one turbine on Grand View Farm, owned by the Davis family, have paused until 2013.

“To remove international controversy that has distracted our public officials, including the clerk’s office and to focus its own efforts on the Grand View Farm project, Encore is withdrawing the Smugglers Hill Farm project from the Standard Offer Program…. Of the two projects, the one proposed for Smugglers Hill Farm is the closest to the Canadian border and it is the project that has generated the most controversy. Encore will not pursue the Smugglers Hill Farm project any further,” wrote Leslie Cadwell, the attorney for the developer, to the PSB Clerk on May 24th.

The growing costs of defending the projects put the entire project at risk, Farrell stated in a press release. “We hope that this change in the project will demonstrate our willingness to reach out and work with the local community in Derby and Stanstead to find common ground.”

Encore plans to conduct outreach with the goal of generating community support.

Farrell says the Section 248 process will begin again in early 2013 for the Grand View Farm project.

Canadians were quiet for a long time, but the developer had failed to notify Stanstead when the other towns were notified. When residents became aware, they began to speak out.

Smugglers Hill Farm borders Stanstead, Que.,while the Grand View Farm is across the street from the border and the proposed turbine site sits further back. The project created significant controversy, especially the Smugglers Hill location because of its proximity to resident’s homes. The international controversy led to multiple protests, one of which attracted more than 150 people from both the U.S. and Canada. A second petition was started that now contains more than 300 signatures. The first was stared in Derby soon after the project was announced. The Town of Stanstead is opposed and has intervenor status, and recently multiple Canadian residents are seeking intervenor status as well.

On the U.S. side, The Village of Derby Line opposed the project and all of the Holland Select Board members have opposed the project and were planning an official vote.
The Derby Select Board was divided. Several Derby and Holland residents sought intervenor status as well.

The developer had also failed to notify several adjoining land owners to the Chase farm as required by PSB rules. This failure caused the PSB to grant more time to those who were not notified to seek to intervene, and several did.

When the project was first presented in the summer of 2011 a few residents had questions, while only some were opposed. Many residents said they were undecided at first, but after they conducted research they became adamantly opposed. Most cited concerns over potential side effects from the turbines such as possible health effects, property value declines, and shadow flicker.