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Hearing delay for proposed Dairy Air Wind project

HOLLAND – The Vermont Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has issued an order granting the Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s motion to continue hearings due to new information received in a different case regarding ISO-NE and the grid constraints in northern Vermont.

The Vermont Electric Cooperative recently held a second hearing on its 20-year transmission plan, which includes some discussion about the northern Vermont grid constraints, said Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.

VEC filed a motion before the PUC last week seeking to continue hearings, and the PUC granted the motion on May 10, the record shows.

“VEC states that it recently obtained information that may alter its analysis regarding the effects of the proposed project on the Sheffield-Highgate Export Interface (SHEI). VEC states that its updated analysis is based on its understanding of the formula that ISO-New England (ISO-NE) uses to determine curtailments … VEC represents that it is authorized to state that the Town of Holland has no objection, and that Dairy Air Wind, LLC, takes no position on this motion,” said Smith.

In granting the motion, the PUC stated in its order, “We have determined that it would be beneficial for the Commission and parties to review VEC’s additional information if authorized by ISO-NE.”

Smith said on Friday, “The biggest issue with the Dairy Air Wind project proposed for Holland is that it is in the area known as SHEI – Sheffield Highgate Export Interface. The area has about 400 MW of generation flowing through it which includes about 200 MW of Hydro-Quebec power, but the area has a load (need) for only 30 to 60 MW.”

“VEC and GMP are very opposed to adding any new generation to this area, whether it’s more 500 kW solar projects of a 2.2 MW wind project,” explained Smith. “There is ongoing work by VELCO and the utilities to attempt to address the problem, but so far it looks like at best what any fixes that happen soon will do is reduce the amount of time that Sheffield Wind and Lowell Wind are curtailed. The fixes they are looking at would not make the area hospitable to more new generation. To do that is a much more expensive prospect.”

On Friday, the Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) proposed a schedule for the proposed 2.2 MW wind-powered electric generation facility in Holland.

The proposed schedule in the petition of Dairy Air Wind LLC proposed on Friday by VEC calls for VEC to file supplemental testimony by or on May 25; by June 4 “parties with standing on these issues can serve discovery on VEC limited to the supplemental testimony; VEC will have until June 18 to respond to the discovery; and by July 2, parties with standing can file supplemental testimony.”

An attorney for Green Mountain Power on Friday also filed a motion with the PUC vacate an Offer of Judgment recently filed by the developer, stating opposition and asserting that the developer is attempting to “shift its costs to GMP and other parties.”

Smith explained the Offer of Judgment filed earlier this month by the developer of the hoped-for Holland wind project.

“It’s an effort by the developer to avoid hearings on the SHEI grid constrained area,” said Smith. “In their filing, GMP ‘strongly opposes’ the developer’s efforts to shift its costs to GMP and other parties, which is what would happen if the PUC were to grant the developer’s Offer of Judgment.”

Hearings that had been scheduled before the PUC for Thursday and Friday this week for the Holland Wind case were canceled.

“The hearings this week were cancelled because at the status conference the week before, VEC told everyone they had just learned some new information from ISONE in a different case, and that information was confidential and they needed to deal with the confidentiality aspect and then if they were successful they wanted to inform the PUC and parties about what they learned,” said Smith. “Today’s filing seems to indicate that they are now prepared to submit something next Friday related to the new information they have from ISO-NE.”

Attorneys for Dairy Air Wind, LLC, a proposed wind generation project, filed a petition earlier this month urging the PUC reject claims by VEC, Green Mountain Power and the Vermont Department of Public Service (the Department) “alleging that Dairy Air Wind’s proposed 2.2 MW wind turbine will impose costs on VEC and other ratepayers beyond costs allocated to Vermont’s utilities pursuant to the Standard Offer program, and that the project must be reviewed under certain Section 248 criteria that are otherwise inapplicable to the project absent a Commission recission order.”

“In defending against these claims, Dairy Air Wind offered a proposed judgment to VEC, GMP, the Department, the Town of Holland and any other party with standing containing specific relief targeted to fully resolve these claims,” wrote Dairy Air Wind’s counsel on Friday in a Petitioner’s Opposition to Objections and Motions Re Offer of Judgment.

DAW’s lawyers state, “The relief offered in the judgment proposed by Dairy Air Wind does not conflict with any provision in Section 248 … The PUC has discretion to issue a Section 248 Certificate of Public Good (CPG) that requires the CPG holder to adhere to conditions, including conditions that require future performance.”

“DAW’s Offer of Judgment proposes operational conditions for a CPG that will preclude ratepayers from experiencing the alleged costs and impacts from the project that VEC, GMP, and the Department of Public Service claim will occur,” the developer’s lawyers wrote.