IRASBURG/LOWELL – The impact of two new large wind turbines on the northern Vermont electric grid has to be evaluated before state utility regulators say they will reconsider the Kidder Hill Wind Project petition.
On Thursday, the Vermont Public Utilities Commission also said it’s not fair to communities and citizens to leave major details unresolved – in this case leaving up in the air whether the turbines would be in Irasburg, Lowell or one in each town on Kidder Hill.
The commission reaffirmed an earlier decision to refuse to consider the project as presented, saying that the Kidder Hill Wind petition for a certificate of public good is incomplete.
The commission said the developer has to be specific about the project.
“Allowing Kidder to ‘develop its case through the contested case proceedings’ would present a moving target for other parties … resulting in an unnecessary and inappropriate burden on these parties,” the commission stated.
“Through Act 174 the Legislature expressed its concern over the difficulties that citizens encounter when they participate in commission proceedings. Allowing proposals with multiple alternatives to proceed to investigation and to be further developed through that process runs counter to that legislative intent,” the commission stated.
Irasburg voters and the select board oppose the project, while in Lowell, which is already host to 21 industrial wind turbines, selectmen have said they are in favor of it.
Other details are also unresolved, the commission stated in an order that took apart Kidder Hill Wind’s arguments for reconsideration.
Kidder Hill argued that the commission is arbitrarily requiring a system impact study now rather than later, saying that other project applicants were allowed to get a certificate with condition that the grid impact be done afterward.
But the commission pointed out that in other cases, expert witnesses were able to make findings that satisfied the commission in advance of doing a full system impact study.
In the Kidder Hill case, the expert witness offers an opinion that will depend on a successful system impact study, the commission states.
“Kidder has not yet even finally identified its point of interconnection,” where the electricity from the two turbines would be fed into the grid.
“The testimony of Kidder’s expert witness reveals a history of issues related to interconnecting this project to either Green Mountain Power’s 46 kilovolt (kV) line or Vermont Electric Cooperative’s 12.47 kV distribution line. …
“Given the history of interconnection requests being submitted and then withdrawn as issues arose, and the lack of clarity … we continue to conclude the Kidder has not provided us with information on which we can rely to make the required findings.”
The commission states that Kidder Hill also can’t argue that it’s too early to provide a decommissioning cost, since the type of wind turbine has been already selected, a 2.5 megawatt Goldwind model.
Kidder Hill did not address its failure to complete a natural resource assessment for the interconnection corridor or lack of impact studies on animals and plants other than birds and bats, the commission stated.
“These failures alone support a denial of Kidder’s motion.”