State utility regulators will hold a hearing to decide if Green Mountain Power should face financial penalties for shipping turbine parts across northwestern Vermont to the Lowell wind site without proper local approval.
The Vermont Public Service Board wants GMP to offer details that can be questioned by state officials.
A fine of $3,000 has been suggested by the Vermont Department of Public Service, the state’s consumer advocate.
Opponents from the towns of Albany and Craftsbury and the Lowell Mountain Group alerted the PSB about how GMP’s contractor was using the route before the towns were properly notified. But the PSB has said that these two towns and the Lowell Mountain Group don’t have standing when it comes to transporting the turbine parts and the selection of routes, so they cannot participate in the hearing.
The hearing and the sanctions would have no effect on the completion of the project but would have a financial impact on GMP.
All the wind turbine sections and components have arrived at the 21-turbine wind site on the Lowell ridgeline. Most of the turbines are up and some have already begun to generate electricity.
GMP had initially wanted to truck some parts for the turbines across this northern route but couldn’t get permission from New York state.
The alternate route was proposed and approved, with shipments trucked from the port in Albany, N.Y., across southern Vermont and then north on Interstate 91 to Lowell.
But GMP got New York state permission to truck the parts across northern New York state at the last minute, and to save time asked to use the northwestern Vermont route.
The PSB let GMP alter its own proposal for alerting towns along this route but asked that GMP officials file details of how GMP notified the road commissioner, selectmen’s chairman or acting chairman in towns along the route.
The idea is for the appropriate town officials to say that they had no concerns about how the large truck shipments would affect road conditions. GMP was also supposed to do a road survey with town and state road officials, but the PSB said that wasn’t essential if the towns didn’t require it.
In three of those towns, Alburgh, Cambridge and Eden, only the town clerks were contacted, according to an affidavit filed by GMP.
The PSB reviewed a second affidavit about who was contacted in those towns and concluded that a hearing is required where “GMP must show cause, on the record through pre-filed testimony subject to cross-examination, why the board should not impose sanctions.”
The PSB has asked GMP and the department to pre-file testimony about what violations occurred and what sanctions should be.
The PSB noted in its order posted online Monday that the department is the only party in the case that has standing on this issue.
The hearing is set for Nov. 28 in Montpelier.
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