May 28, 2017

Utilities, Quebec town get party status in Dairy Air Wind project

Neighbors Also Allowed To Participate In Review Of 499-Ft Turbine Plan | Robin Smith | Caledonian Record | May 26, 2017 |

HOLLAND – Neighbors, two electric utilities and a Quebec town can participate in the review of the Dairy Air Wind turbine proposed for School Road.

But Thomas Knauer, the hearing officer for the Vermont Public Service Board who granted party status, warned that the impact of a 499-foot-tall wind turbine on property values is not part of the review under state law.

Property values are among the top concerns of neighboring property owners.

Meanwhile, the two Vermont electric utilities, Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative, have made the strongest arguments so far against the 2.2-megawatt turbine planned for Dairy Air Farm.

The utilities say that another large renewable energy project in the Northeast Kingdom could create a bigger glut of renewables in this region, and could cause the New England grid operators to continue to curtail regional generation.

That will hurt both GMP and VEC because they have built budgets on inexpensive power from their own 21 large turbines on Lowell Mountain along with contracts with First Wind at Sheffield and Hydro Quebec and don’t want to see that curtailed.

Knauer granted motions to intervene to neighbors Shawn Bickford, Homer and Janet Shelby, Rodney and Veda Lyon, Cindy Lussier and Joyce Jacobs. Hollis and Angela Thresher were admitted earlier. Neighbors are representing themselves.

Other parties given status include the Town of Coaticook, Quebec and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.

The town of Holland and Northeastern Vermont Development Association received status earlier. Other statutory parties are the Public Service Department and the Agency of Natural Resources.

These parties have status to intervene only on the issues they raised in their motions, Knauer stated in his order this week.

Knauer urged parties to work together where possible to save everyone time and money, especially in the discovery phase of interviewing experts, in presentation of evidence, cross-examination and in briefings.

Developer David Blittersdorf applied for a certificate of public good for the single wind turbine on Dairy Air Farm on Dec. 31, 2016.

An earlier schedule had to be thrown out when discrepancies came up in notification of neighbors.

A new schedule proposes a site visit and public hearing in Holland the week of June 5, followed by a June 23 deadline for motions about the project from all the parties. The lengthy quasi-judicial review process will take at least a year, with a technical hearing planned for next May.

Blittersdorf has plans for two other large turbines on his Kidder Hill property in Lowell and Irasburg. It’s not yet clear exactly in which town those turbines could be placed.

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