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Breaking news: Encore runs out of wind

DERBY LINE – Opponents of the Derby Line Wind Project are hailing a decision by the Public Service Board (PSB) Friday to deny Encore Redevelopment a “milestone extension.” If the extension had been granted, it would have allowed the company to have more time to resubmit and argue for the project before the board.

The board ruled recently that Encore could refile for a Certificate of Public Good for one of the two wind turbines proposed for Derby Line. Encore had decided not to proceed with the second turbine, on Smugglers’ Hill, given objections from Canadian opponents who said the tower was too close to the international boarder. The first turbine was to be built at the Grandview Farm owned by Brian and Sue Davis.

However, Encore only has until January 15, 1213, to meet the deadline for eligibility for SPEED allotments.

SPEED stands for Vermont’s Sustainably Priced Energy Development Program. Under SPEED, the state encourages renewable energy projects by entering into contracts with developers to provide a 20-year, above market, guaranteed price per kilowatt hour as well as renewable energy credits. Under the current SPEED program for wind generation, a developer is guaranteed 12.5 cents per KWH and can get renewable energy credits up to 3.5 cents per KWH.

However, these contracts have a three-year to completion shelf life. The contract between the state and Encore Redevelopment is due to expire Jan. 15, 2013. Encore applied for an extension of 25 months, into 2015, arguing that the company had faced numerous delays in getting the project off the ground. Encore claims, in its application, that the delays were due to the actions of other parties, the PSB, and even the weather.

Opponents argued, and the PSB apparently agreed, that Encore was responsible for the delays in project development. In a letter to the PSB, intervenor Mary Jenne wrote that Encore made mistakes, errors and omissions, and that Vermont Citizens “are not in the business of educating wind developers.” She stated that allowing wind developers to get a fresh lease on a contract with the state by selling their Certificates of Public Good without actually building the project amounted to making “millionaires out of speculators” and would amount to manipulating the process.

The PSB, in its decision, stated that if a developer sells his contractual rights to another developer, who would then argue that the timeline should begin anew because he/she/it is an innocent owners, “the contract would be essentially meaningless and would open the door to gaming the milestones.”

On that note, the PSB denied the extension, making it impossible for Encore to meet the January 2013 deadline. And although Encore could begin another project, by then, the terms of the SPEED program could, and very possibly would, be radically altered.

More to come Tuesday.