NEWARK – Residents, who tried to prohibit an industrial wind project, are concerned about the release on Monday of a Memorandum of Understanding between Lyndonville Electric Department (LED) and Seneca Mountain Wind (SMW), LLC – a wind project being proposed by two out-of-state developers.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be presented to the Lyndonville Village Trustees Monday night, where LED Manager Ken Mason will seek permission to sign the MOU with the wind project developers.
For Noreen Hession, an opponent to the SMW project, the draft MOU raises two main questions, she said. “I thought we were told that a public utility [like LED] can use eminent domain for themselves to transmit power, but for a private company like SMW then LED has the option [not the requirement] to give them permission to use their transmission lines. So my question to LED is where in the statute are they reading that their cooperation at this level is required?”
Hession said her second question is, “What does the MOU give to SMW [and LED] that they don’t already have?”
Hession responded to Mason in an email, thanking him for releasing the draft of the MOU, and asking him and the trustees a handful of questions, mainly pertaining to LED’s requirements to work with the would-be wind project developer under Rule 5.500 of the Vermont Public Service Board, which requires a publicly held utility to cooperate with an energy generator such as the wind project now on the drawing board.
She asks, “Is LED legally required to do the permitting referenced in the draft MOU? Is LED legally required to allow SMW to use its existing right of ways?” She also presses LED for “What is meant by ‘expanded rights of way?’” referenced in the MOU. “Under what conditions might we expect LED (and SMW) to use ‘expanded rights of way?’”
Newark last September approved a revised town plan that bans industrial wind farms, an amendment built into the revised town plan by the planning commission, supported by voters at a special meeting, and supported by the town’s select board. Brighton, through a poll of its residents and property owners, has taken a position against a wind project.
In Ferdinand, the Unified Towns and Gores Board of Governors has had several visits paid to it recently by SMW developers, seeking to discuss a host town agreement and payments directly to property owners as part of a courting happening there. The SMW project has been pared down in size from its original 90 MW size to 60 now, the developers have confirmed.
Kim Fried, chairman of Newark’s Planning Commission, wrote to Mason late Monday evening, with the draft of the MOU between LED and SMW now public, saying he was “a little astounded by the contents of this document … I thought I understood the basics of Rule 5.500 and the fact that LED had an obligation to cooperate with a proposed interconnect request, but this sounds like LED is taking on the role of a sub contractor to SMW, LLC.”
Of the MOU noting that the agreement with SMW could be “potentially beneficial to LED,” Fried asks, “Is this the incentive for LED to take on the burden of the above construction project? If so, has a financial analysis been completed? Is it available to the public?”
Fried stated, “I think that LED and the Trustees should not sign this MOU without serious consideration and revision. I also think that no further agreements should be signed until the issue of grid stability has been answered.”
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