PSB’s rulings on wind power are prudent, balanced

St. Albans Messenger Editorial, May 19, 2017

Opponents to the indiscriminate location of wind turbines on Vermont’s ridgelines have made their voices heard. The Public Service Board has proposed limits on the noise that could be generated from the turbines and the distance from a turbine and the nearest neighbor.

Opponents are encouraged by the board’s direction; wind power supporters are upset and claim the rules are the industry’s death knell.

What the board’s proposal does is reflect the understanding that wind power developers ought not build the massive turbines in people’s back yards, that people have a reasonable expectation not to have their quality of life disrupted.

Wind power proponents are perturbed because they view the renewable energy source as a vital part of the state’s pledge to have 90 percent of its power be renewable by 2050. They contend power from wind is a vital part of any comprehensive package to combat climate change.

But the reason the PSB was put in this position is because those who favor the large turbines, and wind power in general, never took proximity into consideration and believed that if the land were available and a developer was interested, that all other considerations were without merit. They pushed to the limits and those who were affected began to push back.

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Swanton Wind review off schedule

St. Albans Messenger, May 16, 2017

Note: We are actually still in first round of discovery and the second round of discovery is for parties to serve more questions on Swanton Wind.

PSB to create new timetable

Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — The Public Service Board has set a status conference to determine a new schedule for its review of Swanton Wind, while the second round of discovery questions continues.

The board’s last status conference was in October 2016. At that point, the board’s regulatory review of the project was scheduled to run through October of this year, to the voiced satisfaction of all participating parties.

Since then, multiple obstacles — including inclement weather, late applications for participation and disagreements over the boundaries of the discovery process — have stretched the schedule. The board’s review is currently in its second round of discovery questions, originally scheduled for mid-March, leaving future deadlines uncertain and the process seeming likely to continue into the next year.

The purpose of the forthcoming status conference is to make those deadlines certain. The status conference is scheduled for Wednesday, May 24, at 3 p.m., in the Pavilion Building’s auditorium in Montpelier.

At the Messenger’s last count, more than 60 parties are participating in the board’s review.

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Wind industry and its lies

St. Albans, Commentary, Wind Industry and Its Lies, May 13, 2017

The saga of wind turbine noise goes on and on.

Vermont’s Public Service Board has proposed new noise rules and Big Wind doesn’t like them. The industry has kicked its disinformation campaign into high gear.

I first wrote about this three years ago after a PSB noise “workshop” in Morrisville. After the Morrisville workshop, I mapped the addresses of the neighbors who spoke and measured their distances from the nearest turbine. People who live close to the turbines report more problems than those who live further away. People east of the turbines suffer more than people west of the turbines. This is an important fact when thinking about GMP’s Lowell turbines. Those turbines encroach on Lowell’s eastern boundary with the Town of Albany: Lowell gets the tax breaks and Albany suffers the consequences. It’s the same story a few towns away: Sheffield gets the money and Sutton gets the problems.

On May 2nd, the PSB held a public hearing in Lowell on its proposed noise rules. Some of the same people who spoke in Morrisville spoke again. Some of them were misinformed—they thought that the new rules would apply to existing turbines (they won’t). They wanted to protect the industryfunded tax breaks that they feared might be in jeopardy—the tax breaks that they receive at the expense of their neighbors’ health. Continue reading

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Marinas, turbines, Lowes, Belisles and same lawyer

St. Albans Messenger Letter to the Editor, May 11, 2017

ST. ALBANS —“Two local businesspeople are seeking to build a new marina at St. Albans Bay”.

SWANTON–Two local businesspeople are seeking to build an industrial wind turbine project on Rocky Ridge.

ST ALBANS—“The applicants, Charles “Chuck” Lowe and Rene Boissoneault of St. Albans Bay Lake Homes LLC, are requesting conditional use and site plan approval for a 154-berth marina on Georgia Shore Road”.

SWANTON– The applicants, Travis and Ashley Belisle of Swanton Wind LLC are requesting a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Public Service Board (PSB) for seven 499 foot turbines on Rocky Ridge Road.

ST ALBANS—“The (marina) proposal went before the town’s Development Review Board (DRB) Thursday night (Oct 13, 2016) with area landowners expressing comments and concerns”.

SWANTON– The wind turbine proposal is presently before the Public Service Board (PSB) with area home owners expressing comments and concerns in Montpelier on Thursday night (May 4th).

ST ALBANS—“Lowe spoke with his neighbors who expressed interest”.

SWANTON– Belisle spoke with his neighbors who expressed disinterest. Continue reading

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Mr. Lowe has been drinking Koolade poured by Belisles

St. Albans Messenger, Letter to the Editor, May 10, 2017

Regarding the Letter to the Editor on May 6, 2017 by Charles Lowe, it is abundantly clear whose “Koolade”, Mr. Lowe has been drinking. His verbal attack on Governor Phil Scott’s position on Industrial Wind is proof he has only listened to the Belisles, and their attorney, Anthony Irrapino. “On the very day the Belisle family announced their extensive permit application, Scott met with a group of opponents….” What is missing in that point, several months before, Dustin and Christine Lang, the closest neighbors to the project, requested and had a hearing with the Public Service Board regarding a met tower that had been built and used without a Certificate of Public Good. In addition, Swanton Wind had built an access road on contiguous property owned by the Dubie family, without their knowledge or permission. The Town of Swanton held a vote and the project was rejected by a nearly 4 to 1 vote.

I strongly suggest to Mr. Lowe, that he read the diaries of the Nelson Family of the Lowell Wind Project. It is available in public record, and details its impact on their health and overall life. Their experience is common for people who live in close proximity to Industrial Wind projects. There are over 125 homes within a mile of this project. Are those impacted by these projects collateral damage? Continue reading

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Swanton Wind reps address need for power

St. Albans Messenger, May 9, 2017

Concerns addressed in discovery

Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — Swanton Wind’s responses to a second round of discovery in its regulatory review provide clear answers to questions frequently raised by the project’s critics — particularly, whether there is a Vermont-specific need for the power.

Leslie Cadwell, Swanton Wind’s attorney before the Public Service Board, issued responses to discovery questions from the Burlington Electric Department (BED), the Department of Public Service (DPS), not to be confused with the Public Service Board, and to Green Mountain Power (GMP).

The project’s responses to GMP’s questions are most noteworthy.

When GMP asked the project to describe “whether the facility is needed to meet present or future demand specific to Vermont customers,” Swanton Wind responded that the project can help GMP meet one of two directives outlined in GMP’s 2014 Integrated Resource Plan: to “enable and/or invest in cost-effective renewable and distributed generation.”

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Governor sets bad precedent opposing Swanton Wind deal

St. Albans Messenger, Letter, May 6, 2017

Phil Scott is setting a dangerous precedent by opposing the Swanton Wind development before it even gets a hearing with the Public Service Board.

The Governor should understand how chilling his efforts to ban a specific type of development would be for Vermont’s business climate and reputation as a place to invest.

In a recent Seven Days article, Phil Scott admitted that he no longer believes he has the legal authority to ban wind projects through executive order. He says he is “contemplating another way to prevent ridgeline wind,” by tasking his appointed bureaucrats to make the process more difficult and expensive for the Vermont family business trying to help fuel the state’s economy with a homegrown clean energy project.

Development of all kinds requires years of careful and expensive planning to ensure compliance with Vermont’s environmental laws. No developer expects guaranteed project approval, but those who take the risks –creating jobs and new tax revenue – should be able to count on a full and fair permitting review.

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