March 6, 2020

Holland hopeful Dairy Air Wind is ‘dead’

Robin Smith | Caledonian Record | March 5, 2020 |

HOLLAND – The developer of a proposed single large wind turbine for a farm field in Holland has asked state regulators to dismiss the petition without any chance to resubmit it in the future.

That is what the town of Holland is seeking.

Holland voters raised the issue at Tuesday’s town meeting.

When asked if that means the town won’t incur any more costs to fight the wind project, Holland Select Board Chairman Norm Fortin crossed his fingers.

Selectman Tim Sykes told voters that the select board is waiting for the Vermont Public Utilities Commission to formally dismiss the petition for the wind turbine.

The board wants to hear “that it’s dead,” Sykes said.

Developer David Blittersdorf announced Jan. 16 that he was dropping his plans for the Dairy Air Wind turbine. After months of regulatory procedures, he had won a crucial extension of the deadline to raise a turbine and approval to change the capacity of the turbine.

However, he never submitted sound modeling for a turbine as part of the petition for the project.

That led the town of Holland’s attorney to file a motion for dismissal with prejudice, saying that the project petition should be dismissed on the merits and the case not be allowed to be refiled or reopened.

Last week, the attorney for Blittersdorf filed a letter to the commission asking for involuntary dismissal with prejudice, meaning it could not be resubmitted or restarted.

Involuntary dismissal would mean that the lack of merit in the case is not laid at the feet of the developer.

“The obstacles to a fair hearing of Dairy Air Wind’s evidence in this case finally became insurmountable,” Dairy Air Wind attorney Leslie Cadwell wrote.

The unusual 10-month long commission proceeding to review Dairy Air Wind’s request to change the deadline to raise the turbine “served as confirmation that Dairy Air Wind could not reasonably expect this proceeding to move to a fair and timely conclusion,” she wrote.

Blittersdorf in January blamed Vermont Gov. Phil Scott for opposition to wind energy in Vermont and for appointing members of the commission who oppose wind projects.

The developer does not agree with the town about the town’s motion to dismiss the project, but Cadwell wrote that involuntary dismissal “appears to get the opposing parties and the commission to the desired end, but more quickly and with lower transactional costs for all.”

The hearing officer in the case, Tom Knauer, is expected to rule on the motions for dismissal. Then it will be up to the commission to decide how to dismiss the case.

Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment and a long-time opponent of large wind turbines in Vermont, said the dismissal request is “long overdue and most welcome. Blittersdorf needs to reconsider how he is doing business in Vermont regarding renewable energy. He has shown everyone how to do it wrong.”

Holland selectmen on Tuesday said their attorney called it “pretty unlikely” that the town could be reimbursed for what the town has spent on legal fees fighting the wind project.

The town had paid $73,210 as of mid-January over the past three years in legal fees to oppose the wind project.

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