HOLLAND – A dairy farmer is teaming up with wind developer David Blittersdorf to propose a single, large wind turbine for the Champney family’s Dairy Air Farm in Holland.
Brian Champney, Blittersdorf of AllEarth Renewables and VERA Renewables announced on Tuesday a plan to erect one 2.2-megawatt turbine on the farm. They said they will be sharing more information this summer about the wind project.
Champney said he is “excited” for the opportunity to use the working landscape to generate renewable energy and help keep his farm afloat.
Blittersdorf is also preparing to apply for a permit to erect two large turbines on his property on Kidder Hill in Irasburg.
Both Irasburg and Holland are in Orleans County, part of the Northeast Kingdom where 37 ridgeline turbines already operate. The regional plan bans more.
This is the second time that dairy farmers in the Holland-Derby area have sought to erect large wind turbines. One planned for a farm on Goodall Road in Holland and another for the Davis Farm in Derby were withdrawn in 2012. The proposals divided the communities and involved nearby residents in Quebec.
Dairy Air Farm is located on School Road, several miles north from the Holland School and the town clerk’s office.
The Vermont Public Service Board on Friday accepted Dairy Air Wind’s bid to negotiate a stably-priced, long-term contract with Vermont utilities under what’s called the standard offer program for smaller renewable energy projects.
Under the contract, the project would be allowed to supply Vermont utilities with approximately 6 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year. The energy would be generated by a single wind turbine surrounded by cornfields of the 450-acre Dairy Air Farm on School Road.
In 2015, Champney said he contacted Vermont-based VERA Renewables for assistance in realizing his longstanding vision for generating wind power on his farm. The successful standard offer bid for a single turbine project is the result of that collaboration.
“I am excited that our piece of the working landscape can help contribute to Vermont’s renewable energy economy and reduce Vermont’s reliance on dirty out-of-state fossil fuels,” Champney said in a joint statement.
“At the same time, this project also helps achieve another important Vermont goal – keeping small farms like ours afloat in the face of low milk prices.
“I’ve had positive responses from many of the people I’ve talked to in our community, and I look forward to gathering more input and continuing to answer questions about our proposal as we move forward to make this dairy farm a wind farm too,” Champney said.
Blittersdorf called this “an exciting opportunity to help local landowners sustain their family-run dairy farm by generating renewable energy in a low-impact setting while contributing substantial tax revenue to the town, and fueling the state’s growing renewable energy economy.”
The single-turbine project “will create local clean energy and pay local taxes and state education taxes – it’s a wind win-win,” Blittersdorf said.
The Standard Offer program’s purpose is to encourage development of renewable energy resources within Vermont, as well as the purchase of renewable power by the state’s electric distribution utilities, they said.
Vermont law directs the Public Service Board to administer the Standard Offer Program to help the state achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals.
The project will require a certificate of public good approval from the Public Service Board along with other permits.
The project team is in the early stages of gathering data to inform the design and permitting process and will be out in the community early in the summer, Champney and Blittersdorf said.
Champney and his partners will have to notify the town, regional commission and the project’s abutting landowners about the proposal before seeking to apply for a certificate. They will have to conduct studies and may need to put up a wind test tower, which would also need a permit.
Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, questioned whether Blittersdorf should be pursuing any more wind projects while others he is working on or has built are under investigation. He could be facing penalties or fines.
The PSB is probing his wind test tower in Irasburg because it was built without a permit and also looking at two complaints about the Georgia Mountain Wind Project involving noise and icing on the blades.
“In particular, he must explain to the neighbors of this proposal in Holland why his interests as an industrial developer override the interests of the people who live within the known and easily predicted impact zone,” Smith said Tuesday.
She said he is ignoring the harm that noise is causing neighbors of wind projects and should address that first.
The Holland town plan states that commercial energy projects “shall not have the potential for undue adverse impacts on … human health” and other issues, including property values.
The town plan does not ban wind projects. It does require the developer to work with the town.
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