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Dairy Air Wind allowed to change turbine size

HOLLAND – The Vermont Public Utilities Commission on Thursday allowed the Dairy Air Wind developer to propose a smaller capacity wind turbine for a farm field in Holland and still quality for preferential electrical rates.

That should pave the way for a reopened review of the petition by Dairy Air Wind for a certificate of public good for a wind turbine at Dairy Air Farm on School Road. The review will now be about a 1.5 megawatt capacity wind turbine rather than one of 2.2 megawatts as originally proposed.

The developer will have to submit the description of a chosen turbine model and its sound characteristics before the review of the project continues.

The commission also confirmed Thursday that the developer has until after all appeals are resolved to put up the turbine – if a certificate of public good is granted.

The town of Holland, Northeastern Vermont Development Association and the Vermont Department of Public Service opposed the change in the turbine capacity in an amendment of the standard offer contract that Dairy Air Wind has with state utilities.

If the turbine size is changed, the town and NVDA have stated that they will have to pay to redo studies on the impact of a 1.5 megawatt turbine on the area around Dairy Air Farm.

The commission issued its order after holding a short hearing on July 1. The commission also ordered that the town and NVDA were not allowed to intervene in the decision over the standard offer contract amendment.

Holland and NVDA could appeal.

David Snedeker, executive director of NVDA, stated he would have to ask the executive committee about that.
Diane Judd, town clerk in Holland, stated she didn’t know if the Select Board’s point person on the Dairy Air Wind Project has talked with the town’s attorney about an appeal.

Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE) said there had been a possibility that the 2.2-megawatt turbine would not have complied with interior noise standards that were in place when Dairy Air Wind applied for a certificate of public good.

“By granting this change in size, the commission has essentially let (developer David) Blittersdorf get away with failing to complete the application process for the 2.2 megawatt turbine, and we will never know if the noise standard could have been met with that size wind turbine.”

“The town and NVDA will now have to spend more money to evaluate the noise, aesthetic, safety and other issues related to the down-sizing, as though the project starts all over again on the issues of greatest concern to the town and citizens,” Smith stated.

VCE has evidence that there are 1.5 megawatt turbines that cause complaints over noise, Smith stated.

“There is no evidence that a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine will be a better neighbor than the larger model.”

Not A Placeholder

The commission stated in its order that Dairy Air Wind had legitimate reasons for the amendment and that the original proposal of a 2.2 megawatt capacity turbine, the largest allowed, wasn’t just a way of getting into the line up for a preferential contract with utilities.

Without the standard offer contract, many smaller projects might not be financially feasible.

“… the record information provided by the petitioner is enough for us to determine that the petitioner’s 2.2 megawatt project was not a placeholder and is enough to determine the basis for the requested contract change,” the commission wrote.