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Georgia wind project fined $10,000

The developer of a four-turbine commercial wind project in Milton has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and contribute $10,000 to a private remediation fund for multiple violations of its state permits during blasting for the nearly complete project.

The Public Service Board issued the order to Georgia Mountain Community Wind late last week, giving official weight to a settlement negotiated between the developer and the project’s neighbors.

“We want to be good neighbors. We wanted an amicable resolution as quickly as possible,” Martha Staskus, project manager for Georgia Mountain, said Monday.

While the PSB accepted the negotiated settlement, its three members made clear they might otherwise have imposed more severe penalties.

“Our acceptance of the $10,000 penalty should not be taken as an indication that such an amount would have been within the penalty range we would have considered should this matter have been determined through an adversary proceeding,” they wrote.

“Any violation of the requirements of a Certificate of Public Good is a serious matter,” they continued, referring to the project’s permit. “Violations that have the potential to result in a threat to public safety are particularly serious, and we view the admitted and alleged violations as falling into that category given the ultra-hazardous nature of blasting.”

Georgia Mountain Community Wind acknowledged that flyrock from blasting a road up the mountain likely flew onto a neighboring property with enough force to leave marks on trees. A state inspector documented the presence of blasted rock on the property of Jane Fitzgerald in September.

The company also admitted violating its permit by twice failing to provide sufficient notice to neighbors of blasting and by blasting on a state holiday.

Dan Richardson, attorney for the group of five neighbors, said the negotiated settlement was the only way the neighbors could obtain the remediation fund to address their concerns about the impact of the wind turbine construction on their property.

“I think they chose the settlement that would put them in a better place than prolonged hearings,” he said. “It is fair to say Georgia Mountain negotiated in good faith – but I wouldn’t say they are all good friends.”