HOLLAND – The town of Holland and the regional commission say a wind developer shouldn’t get more time to raise a wind turbine in Holland and still keep its contract for its electricity with preferential rates.
The town and Northeastern Vermont Development Association want a chance to argue their case directly with state utility regulators on the Vermont Public Utilities Commission.
Dairy Air Wind has asked for an extension to its deadline this summer to raise a large wind turbine on Dairy Air Farm in Holland. Without the extension, the developer cannot meet the conditions of a standard offer contract it has with Vermont utilities that would pay better than market rates for the turbine’s electricity. Without the contract, the project might not be financially viable.
The Dairy Air Wind petition for a certificate of public good has been the subject of much opposition, and affected by problems of excess renewable electricity and lack of demand on the regional grid. That caused long delays in the process, making it impossible for the developer to meet this summer’s deadline to keep the contract.
Hearing officer Thomas Knauer, who has been shepherding the Dairy Air Wind project through the review process, has recommended that the commission amend the contract for Dairy Air Wind.
He urged the commission to give Dairy Air Wind time to earn a certificate of public good and make it through the appeals process and still keep the standard offer contract.
He also said that Dairy Air Wind should also be allowed to change the size of the turbine, reducing it from 2.2 megawatts to 1.5 megawatts capacity, even though the reasons given are not due to engineering changes which is an allowable reason in the standard offer program.
Knauer stated that there are public policy reasons for granting the request by Dairy Air Wind, with much investment in time and money by the developer and intervenors. The amendment, he said, which would allow the project to succeed or fail on the merits, not on a technical requirement.
Holland and NVDA disagree.
“The hearing officer is correct that the petitioner has not met PUC standards and precedent for approval of a standard offer contract project amendment; however, the hearing officer is incorrect in his assessment that public policy warrants granting petitioner’s request despite the failure to meet PUC requirements,” Holland and NVDA state.
“In fact, public policy warrants denying the request.”
The town and NVDA say the commission should not override its own standards. To do so would be “arbitrary and capricious” and not in the public interest.
They call it “illogical” to grant the amendment outside of the commission’s own standards, because it would “doom the town and NVDA among other parties to substantial additional outlay of public resources.”
If the commission grants the amendment to recognize the investment by parties, the town and NDVA say they will file a motion asking the commission to cover their costs so far in this case.
The town and NVDA also say that Dairy Air Wind wants to change its turbine size as the result of opposition to the original proposal, arguing that the developer has cited different reasons at different times for the change without meeting the requirements.
The town and NVDA say that the hearing officer is proposing that the “passage of time” is a reason for amending the standard offer contract.
They say that the review process has been lengthy due to opposition that the developer knew about even before petitioning for the wind turbine certificate. And they say the developer still hasn’t provided a sound model for an actual turbine model that would be raised on the site – which they say means not all the evidence has been filed.
“The flawed logic seems to be ‘Because it’s taken so long, we need to take longer,’” the town and NVDA states.
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