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Holland wind turbine project officially over

Vermont has no major wind projects moving forward after plans for a proposed turbine just south of the Canadian border have officially ended.

In an order issued earlier this month, the state Public Utility Commission upheld a request to conclude its review of a wind turbine proposed for a Holland dairy farm.

This dismissal was first reported by The Caledonian-Record.

In January, the town of Holland asked the PUC to dismiss the application by Dairy Air Wind, arguing the developer had not filed a required sound model.

Leslie Cadwell, Dairy Air Wind’s attorney, told the PUC that her client disputed the town of Holland’s arguments, but agreed to dismiss the application because the “obstacles to a fair hearing” had become “insurmountable.”

She argued that the commission had complicated the proceeding by allowing a dozen individuals to separately intervene on the same issue and by deferring a ruling on one matter for more than 200 days.

Dairy Air Wind planned to build the turbine on Brian and Kim Champney’s dairy farm in Holland. The developer won a bid for a contract under the state’s standard offer program in 2016.

But, in seeking to obtain the certificate of public good from the PUC needed to construct the turbine, it has faced opposition from local residents, utilities and the state.

Local residents expressed concerns about the potential impact of a large turbine on property values and aesthetics of the rural area. Meanwhile, the state Department of Public Service and some electric utilities argued that the turbine would add more renewable energy generation to an oversubscribed part of the grid.

Dairy Air Wind initially proposed a 2.2 megawatt project, later reduced to 1.5 megawatts.

Dairy Air Wind developer David Blittersdorf, a longtime wind proponent, said it was “crazy” after four years of review that it could take several more years before the project could go on line.

Gov. Phil Scott vowed in his first campaign for governor to fight any new ridgeline wind projects that faced steep community pushback. Blittersdorf said he feels the commission “ran out the clock” on the project.

“It became obvious that I was pounding my head against a brick wall on this, and so I had to cut my losses,” he said, estimating his losses at millions of dollars.

Blittersdorf added that he ended up repurposing five wind turbines originally destined for Vermont projects to a wind farm in Massachusetts.

PUC Chair Anthony Roisman said in an email Wednesday that Blittersdorf was correct that the Dairy Air Wind project had a “normal than longer review” period. There were a significant number of parties in the proceeding, and Blittersdorf sought to significantly modify the project in 2018, Roisman said.

Roisman disagreed with Blittersdorf’s claim that the commission purposefully stalled the Dairy Air wind project.

“To the contrary the PUC is committed to having a wide diversity of renewable energy resources, including wind turbines, built and operating in Vermont,” he said. “That policy is part of the legislative mandate which we follow.”