HOLLAND – Complications and opposition continue to dog the proposal for a large wind turbine on a dairy farm in Holland.
State regulators on the Vermont Public Utilities Commission decided to allow the wind developer to propose a smaller capacity turbine on Dairy Air Farm, in an area where limits on the electric grid capacity have put wind and solar projects on hold.
The review of the project’s merits by the commission’s hearing officer Thomas Knauer should resume soon.
Knauer said he would lift the stay on consideration of a petition for a certificate of public good after Dairy Air Wind provides specifications of the 1.5-megawatt turbine being proposed and the sound models accompanying it. And then Vermont Department of Public Service wants a say.
The department which represents Vermont consumers of electricity is opposed to a deal that Dairy Air Wind made with Vermont Electric Cooperative last year. The settlement in December prompted the state’s largest electric co-op to withdraw its own opposition to the wind turbine project.
Dairy Air Wind has agreed to shut down the proposed turbine on Dairy Air Farm in Holland whenever New England grid operators put constraints on existing renewable energy sources in this area.
That includes the 21 Lowell wind turbines which provides electricity at cost to VEC members.
If the Holland turbine is not shut down, then Dairy Air Wind will owe a financial penalty to VEC, according to the settlement.
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.
The settlement takes away VEC’s concerns about the project, VEC officials said.
The Lowell wind turbines are owned by Green Mountain Power, which partnered with VEC to raise the turbines and share the electricity benefits.
In April, GMP announced support for this unique approach to constraints imposed by the grid operator ISO New England on exporting electricity from what’s called the Sheffield- Highgate Export Interface (SHEI) region of the electricity grid.
But GMP notes that it won’t work for multiple renewable energy projects in the SHEI.
“The settlement proposes a dispatch solution to address Dairy Air Wind’s adverse economic impacts on Vermont utilities and their customers associated with its injection of new electric generation into an export-constrained area,” GMP’s attorney wrote to the commission.
“It requires that Dairy Air Wind curtail output of its wind facility (i.e., cease generation) under certain circumstances when ISO New England signals that the SHEI is congested.
“If Dairy Air Wind does not curtail, it shall pay VEC two times Dairy Air Wind’s Standard Offer rate for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced in violation of the settlement.
VEC has a separate agreement to share that payment with GMP.
Dairy Air Wind has a standard offer contract with Vermont utilities requiring that they will buy the electricity from the proposed turbine at preferential rates much higher than market rates.
Last week, the department announced the intent to oppose this agreement and asked for a schedule to provide testimony.
The town of Holland which opposes the wind project also wants a say on this agreement.
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