DERBY LINE – The argument over wind turbines in Derby Line is over – for now. In a press release sent out on Friday, May 25, the company that planned to build a 430-foot-tall tower on each of two farms here, says it is withdrawing its application for Public Service Board (PSB) approval of the project.
Chad Farrell, one of the principals of Encore Redevelopment, a Burlington-based venture capital firm, sent out the release. It went on to say that the company plans to file a request for a Certificate of Public Good in early 2013 – this time for a single turbine on the farm owned by Bryan and Sue Davis.
According to the press release, the abandoned project, which would have been located on Smugglers Hill Farm, was closer to the Canadian border and thus “the focus of the majority of the negative public comments associated with Derby Line Wind,” the name given to the project by its developers.
The press release says that Encore believes the whole project could have met the standards required for a Certificate of Public Good under Section 248 of Title 30, the law under which the PSB acts. As recently as two weeks ago, Mr. Farrell and Mr. Davis said they were determined to press ahead this year.
But in its statement Encore attributed its changed position to “the mounting costs of defending these projects and continuing to develop both turbines.” These expenses were putting the project at risk according to the company’s press release.
Encore’s statement said it believes “that much of the controversy is due to the efforts of a few wind energy opponents and advocacy organizations to undermine State energy policy and Vermonters who support the development of new sources of safe, clean, locally generated renewable energy.”
The voters of Derby Line and the city council of Stanstead officially opposed the project. A majority of Derby Selectmen also expressed unease about the project, although they stopped short of taking formal action.
At a meeting on May 14, the selectmen were advised by the town’s lawyer, Richard Saudek, that the town need not make a quick decision unless Encore intended to press forward with its original request for an expedited approval schedule.
After that meeting, a request by Encore to the PSB to adjust its schedule in order to reach a decision by October became public. That would have been a little more than three months later than the company’s original request.
Derby Selectmen, at their May 14 meeting, discussed holding a townwide vote to help determine what the town’s stance on the project should be. Selectman Stephen Gendreau moved to put such a question on the ballot, but it failed to receive a second.
Selectman Karen Jenne suggested that any such vote should be held on the date of the state’s Primary Election or on Election Day in November to save money. Should the selectmen decide to ask townspeople for their opinion, Ms. Jenne’s proposed dates would work, but in the absence of a concrete proposal from Encore, it may be hard to know how to word a resolution.