HOLLAND – The town of Holland and other parties say there’s enough uncontested evidence for state regulators to throw out an application for a large wind turbine on Dairy Air Farm.
The town, joined by Northeastern Vermont Development Association and residents Hollis and Angela Thresher and Shawn Bickford, filed a motion for summary judgment last week demanding that the Vermont Public Utilities Commission reject the petition for a certificate of public good for the Dairy Air Wind Project and the proposed 499-foot-tall wind turbine.
Among other issues, the town points to the site of the turbine, which is about 250 feet from School Road and too close based on setbacks the commission has already established for a turbine that tall in Vermont.
The hearing officer for the commission, Thomas Knauer, has asked parties to comment on the motion for summary judgment by April 4.
The petition for a certificate of public good for the Dairy Air Wind turbine was filed more than a year ago and was proceeding on schedule toward technical hearings this spring.
Renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf recently dropped his other wind project, the two turbines planned for his Kidder Hill property in Lowell and Irasburg.
In the motion, the town of Holland argues that there’s no “genuine dispute” over the facts of this project.
In an accompanying memorandum of law, the town addresses the proximity of the turbine when it comes to ice throw, shadow flicker, and safe public access to School Road and Twin Bridge Road, whether the wind turbine will interfere with the town and regional plans and orderly development, and aesthetics and sound.
The town argues that the petitioner, Dairy Air Wind, has not presented evidence that would allow the commission to support the project when it comes to proximity to town roads that serve as school bus routes to the elementary school about a mile from the turbine site.
“The evidence taken in a light most favorable to petitioner indicates that unsafe conditions in the form of heightened risk of accident or injury are likely to be created on public roadways in the Town of Holland, including School Road and Twin Bridge Road due to shadow flicker and ice throw or drop …” Based on evidence from the developer’s experts, ice forming on turbine blades could fall 318 feet from the turbine, the town states.
“GE Energy recommends, based on industry standards, that wind turbines be placed a distance of at least 1.5 times the hub height and rotor diameter from any roadways and residences,” although the recommendation does depend on rotor speed, turbine dimensions and other factors, the town states.
The town states that motorists on the two roads will experience shadow flicker in excess of 50 hours per year.
The commission, when reviewing four wind turbines in the Georgia Mountain wind project, found that turbines should be set back 1.1 times the turbine height from base to blade tip, the town notes.
“In no other commercial wind turbine case considered by the PUC has a public roadway been located within the set backs.”
The town also stated that there’s no other case in Vermont where shadow flicker, ice throw or ice drop would affect public roads and at least one residence.
“Petitioner has not presented evidence sufficient for this commission to make an affirmative finding in regards to the criteria” about public roadways or facilities, they stated.
Dairy Air Wind is the only wind project being considered under a temporary rule governing the turbine sound heard at residents inside and outside at night, the town states. The only other was Swanton Wind, which has been withdrawn.
In the complex testimony about sound measurements, the town states that Dairy Air Wind’s experts have not provided the evidence to show that whatever wind turbine model is chosen can meet those temporary standards.
The town also states that the Champney family which owns the farm cannot waive the rights of people who live in homes or a mobile home on the farm property – particularly those residences where young children live.
“Since the sound rule is set for the purposes of protecting human health and safety, there is no basis at law to believe that this rule can be waived on behalf of minors …” The town states that there’s no evidence that the commission can make affirmative findings involving the sound rule for this project.
The town also states that Dairy Air Wind “distinctly contravenes” both the Holland town plan and the NVDA regional energy plan and that the petitioner has not presented sufficient evidence to support an affirmative finding regarding orderly development.
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