Swanton Wind and other developers of renewable projects in Vermont are looking to sell power to other states, a move particularly irksome to critics who say the whole point of the projects is to further the Green Mountain State’s green-energy goals.
Records on the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s website indicate that Swanton Wind, the landowner and developer for a seven-turbine project, has responded to a request for proposal regarding Connecticut’s search for more alternative energy.
The prospect of industrializing Vermont so other states can meet their renewable goals is upsetting to some residents.
“It’s not going to count toward Vermont’s renewable energy goals,” said Christine Lang, a Swanton resident familiar with the project.
“Here’s a project that’s going into a local community with local community impacts that’s being portrayed as ‘we want to help Vermont get to its goals,’ but you’re not (helping) if you sell it out of state.”
Swanton Wind and DEEP did not respond to requests for comment.
And if the power is not sold out of state, the other option may not be any more appealing.
The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) requires utilities to purchase power from a producer — in this case Swanton Wind – whether they want it or not. Because of the likely higher cost and the lack of public support, Vermont utilities might be unhappy about being forced to buy the power generated by Swanton’s turbines.
But the choice might be them or Connecticut.
Green Mountain Power, a local utility that would have to buy the power from Swanton under a PURPA deal, filed a motion with the Public Service Board to dismiss nine PURPA proposals, including Swanton’s proposal to sell power to GMP.
According GMP’s motion, the PURPA proposal would require the utility to purchase power from Swanton Wind for terms that no longer apply. As a result, GMP claims the petitions “must be dismissed as a matter of law.”
“We have been expressing concerns about the projects and antiquated PURPA rates being used,” said Kristin Carlson, chief communications executive at GMP. “We are focused on keeping costs low for costumers. We think we have a really compelling case to make, so we’ll see what happens.”
She also said GMP wants to see community support, which hasn’t been the case for many turbine projects. Carlson added that the power company has a balanced portfolio right now, which includes 32 percent hydro and other renewable sources.
Burlington Electric Department has filed a similar motion with the PSB to dismiss the PURPA proposal forcing it to purchase power from Swanton Wind.
The Swanton Wind project recently filed for a certificate of public good, beginning the process of gaining regulatory approval for the project.
Annette Smith, director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, noted that other Vermont wind projects also have been marketing power to Connecticut, including Kidder Hill Community Wind in Irasburg, a project by renewable developer David Blittersdorf.
“This is David Blittersdorf and company, VERA (Vermont Environmental Research Associates), attempting to market wind power to Connecticut for no benefit to Vermont,” said Smith. “Why Blittersdorf is just fanning the flames of opposition and just infuriating people more, I don’t understand it.”
Vermont has seen a wave of opposition to industrial wind power recently. This includes votes against projects last fall in Irasburg (274-9) and Swanton (731-160). this past Election Day in Holland (314-59), Windham (181-101) and Grafton (235-158).
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