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Kidder Hill wind: Blittersdorf wind hedge pits Lowell against Irasburg

David Blittersdorf is hedging his bet.

He’d like to put up two industrial-sized wind turbines on his Kidder Hill property in the town of Irasburg, where he has a cabin. He’d like to pay taxes on the turbines to Irasburg and he’d like to share the benefits of the wind energy with some of his neighbors.

But if that doesn’t work out, he’ll put the turbines in Lowell instead.

His 560 acres straddles the Irasburg-Lowell town line. And if the town of Irasburg doesn’t want his turbines and his tax money, Lowell does.

Lowell already has 21 industrial-sized wind turbines on its ridgeline on Lowell Mountain. And the select board has told Blittersdorf’s consultants that they’d welcome two more.

Irasburg, meanwhile, voted overwhelmingly against the idea and has already challenged Blittersdorf where possible, including through a first-ever town plan that’s in the works.

So Blittersdorf has alternatives as he moves forward to get permits for two turbines.

The application for a Vermont certificate of public good for the Kidder Hill Community Wind project will include three options, one to put the turbines in Irasburg for that town’s benefit, one to split between Lowell and Irasburg sites, and the third to put the turbines over the line and wholly benefit Lowell.

He expects to pay $40,000 in municipal taxes to the town that hosts the turbines, plus the same again for state education taxes.

He also wants to include neighbors in a chance to be part of a 500-kilowatt portion of the project that will be net-metered and linked to the local grid.

The bulk of the electricity produced by the wind turbines would be sold in a renewed power sales arrangement, possibly with Vermont utilities or with Connecticut.

A new electric collection line will carry power from the wind turbines through one of two options. The first would see a line north to an interconnection point on Green Mountain Power’s 46 kV transmission line. The second option would run south to Route 58 and on to Route 14 to an interconnection point on Vermont Electric Cooperative’s distribution line.

Upgrades would be needed to the existing VEC line.

At 30 percent capacity, the most a wind turbine achieves, the turbines would generate enough electricity for 2,000 households.

To construct the turbines, Blittersdorf will use an existing driveway off Kidder Hill Road, a local Class 4 town road near the Lowell/Irasburg town line, which links to Route 58. Some upgrading to the driveway will be required to accommodate construction vehicles, and a new crane path about 35 feet wide will be created between the two turbines, which Blittersdorf said will be temporary.

The exact location of the turbines will change the access road slightly, but not by much. The sites are very close to the Irasburg-Lowell town line, regardless of the turbine locations.

Blittersdorf expects to file the application for a certificate of public good on or after Feb. 6.

He hopes to have all necessary permits and approvals in the first half of 2018 in order to break ground later that year.

Blittersdorf is preparing to apply for a certificate for a single large turbine on Dairy Air Farm in Holland.

He was a partner in Georgia Mountain Community Wind, a 10-megawatt, four-wind turbine project that has been supplying electricity to the City of Burlington since December 2012. He is also seeking a permit for a small 500-kilowatt solar project in Morgan.

Kidder Hill Community Wind welcomes comments. Anyone interested in the project can email Martha Staskus with Vermont Environmental Research Associates, who is working on the project, at mstaskus@verarenewables.com or call her at 802-744-7522.