Developer seeks big extension on deadline to start turbine, change in turbine capacity.
State utility regulators will consider whether the developer of the Dairy Air Wind project can have more time to get through the permit and appeals process for a single wind turbine on Dairy Air Farm in Holland.
In response to a petition from developer David Blittersdorf, the Vermont Public Utilities Commission has opened a proceeding into whether Dairy Air Wind can have 18 months after receiving a certificate of public good and the full appeals process to erect a 1.5 megawatt turbine on the farm on School Road. That’s a reduced capacity from the 2.2 MW turbine initially proposed.
Blittersdorf, in an affidavit filed with the commission, said that the reduced capacity turbine would address noise concerns by critics, be easier to transport and reduce the turbine’s impact on the electricity grid in a region that is already operating with constraints.
The petition and opening of a new proceeding is the latest development in a three-year review of this unique wind project. It would be the first large wind turbine to operate in open farm fields in Vermont. Others are in forests, hilltops and mountain ridgelines.
In a statement Thursday, spokesman Nick Charyk said that Dairy Air Wind first signed a contract to produce renewable electricity from a Holland turbine in July 2016.
The developer expected that it would take about a year to go through regulatory review and the wind turbine could be constructed sometime in 2018, or at the latest by summer of 2019.
“The process has taken much longer than we hoped for,” Charyk stated.
“In October, the PUC announced that Dairy Air Wind must select a specific turbine model before hearings will be rescheduled.
“At this point in time, it now makes the most sense for the project to move forward with a 1.5 MW turbine because this model is readily available in the market place, easy to transport, and operates even quieter and more efficiently than larger models.”
The request for a time extension “is consistent with good regulatory practice, and lessens the need for additional extension requests,” Charyk stated.
The commission named Thomas Knauer, who has led proceedings on the wind project, to review this latest request from Dairy Air Wind. The commission alerted state agencies and utilities and asked for comment about the request for a change in the turbine size and for more time to meet the obligations of producing electricity under Vermont’s standard offer program for small renewable energy projects.
Comments and requests to intervene in this proceeding are due by Dec. 10.
This issue will have to be addressed before the rest of the hearing process on the wind project can go forward.
The Timeline In 2016, Dairy Air Wind signed a contract with the state’s renewable energy broker for the electricity from a 2.2 megawatt turbine on Dairy Air Farm.
Dairy Air Wind applied for a certificate of public good for the turbine project on Dec. 30, 2016, with the expectation that it would take a year to get the CPG and then have the turbine up and running by July 26, 2019, according to the DAW petition.
But commission concerns about the capacity of the grid in this region, where other turbines are curtailed to reduce impact, and challenges by opponents slowed the commission’s review of the project.
A technical hearing planned for May was called off and has yet to be rescheduled.
The most recent delay came last month from Knauer stayed the entire review until Dairy Air Wind filed details about the make and model of the turbine.
Dairy Air Wind’s attorney pointed to procedural delays “out of DAW’s control” that led to the delays in the process.
“To mitigate the uncertainty created by the changed circumstances in the Section 248 proceeding, and to address issues raised by some parties in the Section 248 proceeding about DAW’s proposal, DAW has selected a wind turbine with a lower maximum capacity than originally planned and with lower sound power levels.
“Given the facts and circumstances of DAW’s particular case, the public interest is served by allowing the proposed amendments to the Standard Offer Contract,” the petition states.
If a certificate of public good is issued, Dairy Air Wind states that it would take 10 to 18 months to raise and start the turbine. The timing would depend on when the CPG is granted and when all appeals are resolved or the appeal period has lapsed, the petition states.
So Dairy Air Wind is asking for an extension of 18 months after the end of the appeal process as the deadline to start the turbine.
In an affidavit, Blittersdorf said he wanted to wait until he got the CPG before picking out a turbine model in order to get the best deal and to benefit from innovations. But he stated he is willing to pick out a turbine model in advance to keep the project going to meet his commitment to farmers Brian and Kim Champney.
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