IRASBURG – Depositions began last week in the case over whether wind developer David Blittersdorf violated state regulations by putting up a wind test tower on his Kidder Hill property without a certificate of public good.
It’s one of two investigations about Blittersdorf’s property and wind generation. The second involves his neighbor, who alleges that he violated a certificate of public good in the location of a small wind turbine on the property.
The investigations are occurring in the context of Blitterdorf’s plan to erect two industrial-size turbines on this part of the Lowell mountain range. He has not filed an application for the large turbines.
Blittersdorf has said that the wind test tower did not need a certificate pf public good because it is a permanent testing station that is used for other tests, and under state regulations it does not need a certificate of public good. His attorney has argued that it’s not relevant that the wind speeds it measured also led to the idea of putting up industrial wind turbines.
State agencies and the town of Irasburg disagree. They say the test tower does need certificates because they are regulated as part of the energy generation infrastructure.
The agencies asked a Public Service Board hearing officer to stop those depositions, saying that Blittersdorf’s attorneys were seeking information and documents that weren’t relevant to the main question of whether there was a violation when the meteorological tower went up without a permit.
The depositions are part of Blittersdorf’s preparation to respond to a motion of summary judgment from the Department of Public Service, which represents utility consumers, the Agency of Natural Resources and the town. The agencies and town asking the hearing officer to rule promptly on the violation question and to limit discussion to the violation allegation and not to details that might mitigate whether Blittersdorf should be penalized for not getting a permit.
Last week, hearing officer George Young gave Blittersdorf more time to respond to the motion for summary judgment. He also said the depositions were allowed. Blittersdorf’s attorney Leslie Cadwell had argued that the protests over the depositions were being made in bad faith.
Young left room for the agencies and the town select board through its agent, local wind opponent Ron Holland, to challenge some of the questions that might get posed.
In particular, some of the questions targeted Holland and whether he had the full authority to act for the town select board in the case.
“I note, however, that I make no ruling as to whether particular inquiries in the depositions are appropriate,” Young stated in his order allowing the depositions.
He said the agencies and Holland are “free to raise objections over information that is privileged.”
Young also said that the quest for information should be limited to material that is relevant – noting that the agencies and Irasburg “cited a potential inquiry into the scope of Mr. Holland’s authority.
“It is not clear how this could possibly relate to the … criteria or the question of whether Sections 246 and/or 248 were violated,” Young stated.
He left it up to the agencies and Irasburg to protest if they didn’t like the questions.
Holland said he gave a deposition on Friday.
Young indicated that he would react to the motion for summary judgment soon.
Blittersdorf is also involved in two other renewable energy projects in Orleans County: a proposal for one industrial wind turbine on a Holland farm and a small solar project in Morgan.
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