December 23, 2018

VEC drops opposition to Dairy Air Wind turbine

Robin Smith | Caledonian Record |

HOLLAND – Vermont Electric Cooperative on Friday withdrew opposition to the Dairy Air Wind turbine planned for a Holland farm field in exchange for financial compensation from the wind developer.

Dairy Air Wind has agreed to shut down its own turbine, if it is approved, whenever New England grid operators put constraints on existing renewable energy sources in this area, including the 21 Lowell wind turbines, that would increase costs for VEC members.

If the Holland turbine is not shut down, then Dairy Air Wind will owe a financial penalty to VEC, according to spokesmen of VEC and Dairy Air Wind. Dairy Air Wind will also pay to set up an automatic alert system about constraints to shut down the Holland turbine, according to the agreement filed with the Vermont Public Utilities Commission.

The settlement takes away VEC’s concerns about the project, said Andrea Cohen, VEC manager of government affairs and member relations.

“VEC intervened … solely on the grounds that the project’s operation would increase congestion in the grid constrained Sheffield Highgate Export Interface (region) resulting in curtailments of existing renewables and increased costs for VEC’s members.

“As a non-profit member- owned cooperative, with a large number of members on fixed and low incomes, protecting the financial interests of our members is a primary concern,” Cohen said.

“VEC has come to an agreement with DAW that addresses this financial concern.”

“The co-op is pleased to have an agreement with DAW that provides certainty and that mitigates any financial impact to the co-op,” Cohen stated.

The deal has been in the works for a while, she said.

Nick Charyk, spokesman for Dairy Air Wind, said DAW appreciates VEC’s “willingness to collaborate with our team to find a solution that avoids additional litigation.

“We are confident that VEC, and Vermont’s other utilities, will continue working with stakeholders to resolve transmission and economic concerns so that more local renewable energy facilities can connect around the state and make Vermont’s energy transformation a reality,” Charyk stated.

The Public Utilities Commission is reviewing an application for a large wind turbine on the Dairy Air Farm on School Road in Holland.

The commission’s hearing officer put the review on hold this fall until Dairy Air Wind identifies what type of wind turbine is selected.

Since then, David Blittersdorf, lead developer of Dairy Air Wind, has applied to change the capacity of the turbine from 2.2 megawatts to 1.5.

He has filed an application with the commission for an amendment to the standard-offer contract, which the state arranges with utilities for small renewable energy projects, to change the capacity of the turbine and to receive an open-ended extension of the deadline to raise the turbine.

Currently Dairy Air Wind cannot meet its standard-offer deadline to raise a turbine by next summer.

As a result, the entire review is on hold until the commission decides if Dairy Air wind can downsize its turbine capacity.

The town of Holland and Northeastern Vermont Development Association and several neighbors are opposing the wind project and also the amendment to the standard-offer contract.

VEC will not oppose the change in the turbine capacity, according to the VEC-Dairy Air Wind agreement.

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