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Blittersdorf could face a fine in Kidder Hill case

Hearing officer: Met tower required a Certificate Of Public Good.

IRASBURG – Wind developer David Blittersdorf should have sought state permission to put up a wind test tower on his Kidder Hill property where he eventually erected two small wind turbines for a few years and unsuccessfully sought to raise two large turbines.

In a decision issued late Thursday, John Cotter, hearing officer for the Vermont Public Utilities Commission, stated that Blitterdorf’ failed to get a certificate of public good for the meteorological tower he raised in 2010 as required.

Cotter asked the parties involved – including Blittersdorf, the Vermont Department of Public Service and the town of Irasburg – to prepare to participate in the penalty phase of the investigation. Once complete, Cotter will issue a recommendation for the commission on a penalty if any.

Irasburg Conflict

Blittersdorf put up the met tower and then two small wind turbines on his rural property on Lowell Mountain, not far from sight of the 21 turbines owned by Green Mountain Power.

He also began the process of planning to site two large turbines on the same property.

In 2015, the town of Irasburg protested to the commission that Blittersdorf did not seek a CPG for the met tower, saying that would have given the town an early heads up that the property was being considered for a commercial grade wind project.

The commission opened the investigation.

Along the way, a neighbor argued that the two small turbines were not placed where the CPG specified. The two small turbines were removed.

In February 2018, Blittersdorf dropped plans for the two large turbines, saying that Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and his administration had created a climate difficult for wind projects.

Blittersdorf is still involved as a partner in a plan to put up a single large turbine on Dairy Air Farm in Holland.

Meanwhile, the department in 2016 asked the commission’s hearing officer to find summary judgment in the Kidder Hill met tower investigation.

That went on hold while the Vermont Supreme Court considered a similar case of a met tower in Swanton. In that case, the commission had fined the owner of the met tower $10,000 for not getting a CPG.

The high court upheld the commission’s decision in April. The court sent the penalty back to be recalculated.

No Dispute

In his order this week, Cotter noted that the high court ruled that a met tower needs a CPG from the commission if it is temporary and constructed or installed to determine the suitability of a grid-connected wind project – based on current statutes.

In the past, all met towers needed a CPG, whether temporary or not.

Cotter stated that Blittersdorf had two purposes for the met tower, one for research and the other to assess the wind for his planned small turbines to power a cabin on the property, which he reiterated in testimony during the investigation. He didn’t plan to take it down.

Cotter said the met tower’s use for evaluating the wind resource was temporary, meeting the high court’s description.

“I conclude that the undisputed facts demonstrate that Mr. Blittersdorf’s meteorological station was reasonably related to a grid-connected wind turbine installation because it was installed to determine suitability of his property for a net-metered residential wind project,” Cotter ruled.

[via Vermonters for a Clean Environment