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Border Water Co. about to lose say over Holland wind turbine

HOLLAND – Officials with a border-straddling water company serving Derby Line and Stanstead, Quebec, wanted to have a say over the siting of a large wind turbine on a dairy farm in Holland.

But a Vermont utility regulator says the company still has to follow the rules when it comes to the review of wind projects. If they don’t, they can’t participate.

That’s the gist of an order issued to International Water Company by Thomas Knauer, hearing officer for the Vermont Public Utilities Commission in the review of a wind turbine proposed for Dairy Air Farm.

Knauer point-blank directs International Water to show why it should not be dismissed as a party in the review of Dairy Air Wind for failure to comply with orders by the commission.

Developers of energy and other projects have been required to take into account the impact on neighbors to the north. Failure to do that derailed one early plan for two wind turbines on two farms in Derby.
But there are challenges, possibly due to a different language and bureaucracy in a different country.

And it’s not the first time that the commission or its officers have had to crack down on citizen’s groups or international organizations interested in participating in Vermont regulatory oversight of energy projects but who didn’t follow the rules.

A Quebec citizen’s group dropped out of this case. In another case, the commission had to repeatedly order responses from a Quebec utility in Coaticook, Quebec, that runs a dam affecting water levels of lakes and ponds in Essex County, Vt.

Dairy Air Case

Dairy Air Wind is petitioning the commission for a certificate of public good to raise one 499-foot-tall turbine on a farm on School Road in the border town of Holland.

International Water Co. is based in Stanstead, with a majority of officers from Stanstead along with representation from Derby Line village.

The company received intervenor status last summer due to the location of a water pipe from the company’s backup reservoir in Holland that runs relatively near the proposed wind turbine site on the way to Derby Line and Stanstead. The company was concerned about blasting.

By December, the water company was ordered to respond to requests by the petitioner for information, including about the exact location, age and integrity of the pipeline.

Knauer issued several orders, as recently as April, for the water company to respond. It did not.

Knauer stated in the June 20 order that he took under advisement the request by Dairy Air Wind for an award of attorney’s fees and costs for trying to get information from International Water Co.

Party status, Knauer wrote, can be granted to those that have a substantial interest in a project.

“However, fairness to the other parties requires that a party be responsive to and compliant with the schedule, rules, procedures and directives in the case,” Knauer wrote.

When the water company failed to comply several times with orders, without explanations, it consumes time and resources of the commission and the parties involved, he added.

He directed the International Water Company to show cause why it should not be dismissed as a party.