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Brighton officials urge PSB to deny MET tower application for wind developer  

Credit:  Amy Ash Nixon, Staff Writer | Caledonian Record | Monday, May 06, 2013 | caledonianrecord.com ~~

The parties involved in the Seneca Mountain Wind project have a little extra time to weigh in on whether the Public Service Board should approve four wind test towers to be installed in the Northeast Kingdom.

The town of Brighton, where the project has been proposed for along with Newark and Ferdinand, didn’t need any extra time and submitted its comments to PSB Hearing Officer Bridgette Remington before the original May 1 deadline.

The public comment period for responses to a proposed decision that recommended the test towers be approved has been extended to May 9.

SMW is a development being jointly proposed by Eolian Renewable Energy of Portsmouth, N.H., and turbine manufacturer Nordex USA, whose USA headquarters are in Chicago.

The PSB this week agreed to the request for an extension after several parties requested it. SMW objected to Newark’s request but did not explain why the extension would create a burden for the company, the PSB memo noted.

Brighton recently adopted a newly amended town plan in which the town says it supports the regional planning agency’s call for a moratorium on wind development until further study is done.

Four members of the Brighton Planning Commission and the three members of the town’s select board, signed a letter urging the CPG not be issued for the MET towers.

The town officials ask that the issue under consideration strike from its language any reference to earlier MET towers having been at a few of the four sites. “The fact that there was a previous CPG given for ‘temporary’ MET towers at two of the locations in Brighton should be stricken from the record, as supporting the application because those sites were to be ‘temporary’ and raising their spectre now gives them undue permanent impact.”

“Will the supposed ‘temporary’ existence of more towers in the region be used forever more to justify further inappropriate development?” the town officials of Brighton ask in their letter to the PSB.

The letter from Brighton officials continues, “Brighton’s economy is hugely dependent on a special kind of tourism, and visibility above the canopy (of the treeline) is a primary concern. The MET towers are completely out of character with the rural surroundings. They will be smack dab in Island Pond’s village and Island Pond Lake’s primary viewshed.”

“[The towers] might be little more than a line on the horizon, but when the horizon is unspoiled beauty, that line is a scar on the landscape. You cannot hide a 200′ tall tower in this part of the Kingdom. You can reduce the impact a slight amount with mitigation measures, but not enough.”

To Remington’s proposed decision on the CPG being issued, the Brighton officials wrote, “In Item 50 (of the proposed decision) you state that the project is consistent with the principles and goals of the Plan for the Northwest (sic) Region, which are generally supportive of small-scale renewable energy development. Are you trying to claim that the proposed MET towers are part of a ‘small-scale renewable energy development’?”

The letter points out several errors in the proposed decision, too, including ‘Northwest’ noted above, and states that the hearing officer appears “unfamiliar with the actual project,” and in the proposed decision has done “little more than parrot the wording of the applicant in your decision.”

“We request that the Brighton Town Plan’s support for small-scale renewable energy development not be misinterpreted to support a large industrial wind project,” the Brighton officials state. “We would finally like to point out that SMW has made a proposition for an actual turbine project to the UTG (Unified Towns and Gores, of which the Town of Ferdinand is one) Board of Governors, and have stated to the UTGs that they do not need the information from MET towers. Since SMW has publicly stated that the MET towers are not needed for their data for a turbine project, this application should be denied,” conclude the Brighton officials’ letter to the PSB.

“The majority of the comments from the Town of Brighton to the PSB reiterate similar baseless arguments related to alleged impacts from temporary met towers that were not persuasive initially and are no more accurate now,” stated John Soininen, vice president for development for SMW, responded in an email Friday. vice president for development for SMW.

“As the public record, which the Town of Brighton surely has access to, clearly demonstrates – Seneca has not proposed any project to the UTG and has in fact reaffirmed the importance of data collected from the MET towers in its conversations with the UTG Board of Governors,” continued Soininen. “SMW is disappointed that the Select Board and Planning Commission in Brighton have decided to misrepresent the facts in an effort to stop data collection activities with minimal impacts on private lands.”

The companies are planning, if the CPG comes through, to erect four nearly 200-foot high test towers, called meteorological stations, in Brighton, Ferdinand and Newark, a precursor for a wind project that has been scaled back from a more than 90 MW project to one that is now proposed at 60 MW due to grid upgrade issues, one of Eolian’s principals, John Soininen explained earlier this week, at a meeting of the Lyndonville Trustees.

SMW is hoping, if the project comes to fruition, to interconnect at the Lyndonville Electric Department/VELCO substation on Hill Street in Lyndonville and is in early talks with the publicly-held utility toward that end.

Source:  Amy Ash Nixon, Staff Writer | Caledonian Record | Monday, May 06, 2013 | caledonianrecord.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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