HOLLAND – The Vermont Public Utilities Commission has closed an investigation into the siting of a wind measurement tower on Dairy Air Farm, where a large wind turbine is planned.
The Dairy Air Wind Project developer took down the meteorological tower, called a met tower, after it became the source of complaints from opponents.
The town of Holland and others said the tower was not located where the developer said it would be, and was raised sooner than it should have and therefore the developer should be penalized.
The developer, David Blittersdorf, also took down two small wind turbines on his Kidder Hill property in Irasburg after complaints about their locations led to an investigation by the commission. He wants to raise two large turbines on the Lowell side of Kidder Hill.
Dairy Air Wind asked the commission to revoke the certificate of public good for the met tower, which would mean that Dairy Air Wind could not decide to put up another met tower in that location. Dairy Air Wind also asked the commission to end the investigation.
In Friday’s order, commission members Anthony Roisman, Margaret Cheney and Sarah Hofmann found that there was no good reason to continue the investigation even though the actual site of the tower was different than proposed and approved.
The commission states that siting a met tower is different than siting wind turbines large or small. The application for a met tower only asks for a general location for where a tower would be located, the commission notes.
Dairy Air Wind was specific about the location of the proposed site for the met tower, on a farm field 300 feet from School Road. In fact the tower was raised 240 feet from the road, the commission notes.
The commission stated that there were no more public safety concerns about the actual location as compared to the proposed location.
The town of Holland wanted to expand the investigation, not close it.
The town protested that the developer put the tower up once the certificate was issued, not waiting until the appeal period had concluded.
The commission noted that there is no legal prohibition that would require a developer to wait that long unless there are specific conditions.
“After considering the filings of all the parties, the commission concludes based on such filings that further investigation and hearings will not provide sufficient basis for a determination … that the CPG holder violated applicable law or failed within a reasonable time to obey a final order or decree of the commission or for the assessment of civil penalties thereunder,” the commission stated.
Since the tower has been taken down and the developer wants to have the CPG revoked, the commission states that further investigation involving questioning and hearings would not be appropriate or productive use of resources under the circumstances.
The revocation is effective 60 days from Jan. 5.
The commission’s review of the proposed 499-foot-tall Dairy Air Wind turbine continues, with parties questioning each other’s experts in advance of technical hearings this year.
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