Opponents get boost from governor

Saint Albans Messenger; April 18th

SWANTON WIND

Scott directs agencies to ‘thoroughly’ review application

 

By TOM BENTON Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — Gov. Phil Scott has offered his administration’s support to the Town of Swanton through the Public Service Board’s review of Swanton Wind.

The Town of Swanton Selectboard wrote to the Governor in February, expressing concerns that the project would destroy the “scenic beauty” of Swanton’s ridgelines, that it would have adverse effects on local wildlife and wetlands, and that the power is not locally needed. That specialists in these fields have testified the opposite has not appeased Swanton town officials’ concerns.

In Gov. Scott’s response, dated March 6, Scott wrote that he has directed officials in the Department of Public Service and the Agency of Natural Resources to “review [the selectboard’s] recommendations and take the appropriate steps to ensure that [those officials] have sufficient expertise and resources to thoroughly review and critique all aspects of [Swanton Wind’s] petition” before the Public Service Board, which is a separate body from the Department of Public Service.

“As you may be aware, I have had an active interest in this issue and have made clear that the potential host community’s perspective should be an important one when considering proposed energy generation projects,” Scott wrote. Continue reading

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Wind energy guys get breaks no one else could dream of

Saint Albans Messenger; April 8, 2017

Former Governor Shumlin revealed during a recent speech at his alma mater, Wesleyan University, in Middletown Connecticut that: “we changed the regulations so that we could build big wind, meaning wind turbines, in the right places in Vermont”. The right places according to former Governor Shumlin turned out to be intact, carbon sequestering, ecosystems on our Green Mountains.

Another change that occurred during the Shumlin “change the regulations” era involved the necessary permits and pre-construction data that is required for the issuance of a certificate of public good (CPG) by the Public Service Board (PSB) for renewable energy projects. For example the following questions were asked of Swanton Wind through discovery: PETITIONER 1-153: Please describe with particularity how deep below present grade the following components of the project would be after construction: A) the lowest extreme limit of the turbine towers or their supporting infrastructure or armature elements; B) the concrete pads to be installed at each turbine site; and, C) any guy line anchors. RESPONSE: A. No geotechnical work has been performed to date, therefore, no foundation design work has commenced and the lowest extreme limit of the turbine towers, their supporting infrastructure, or armature elements is not known at this time.

B. The dimensions of the concrete pads to be installed at each turbine site are not known at this time.

C. The location type and size of any guy line anchors that would be needed are not known at this time.

Response provided by Swanton Wind’s engineering consultant. Continue reading

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PSB settles on Swanton Wind players

Saint Albans Messenger; April 8, 2017

ENERGY
Board limits who will be part of hearings
By TOM BENTON
Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — The Public Service Board (PSB) issued its final ruling on formal participants in the board’s regulation of Swanton Wind Thursday afternoon.

The board’s order limits the participation of several local parties, and outlines a clear scope of participation for all newly approved “intervenors,” the board’s term for formally recognized participants in its regulatory process.

The board approved motions to “intervene” in its process from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), Green Mountain Power (GMP), the Vermont Army National Guard (VTNG) and Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE). The VTNG’s motion was filed one week after the filing deadline, and referred to a Federal Aviation Administration determination that did not exist. Still, the PSB granted its motion to intervene on the basis of the VTNG’s claim that constructing Swanton Wind could “significantly and negatively” affect the VTNG’s rotary wing operations in the Northern Champlain Valley. The board noted that Swanton Wind did not oppose the VTNG’s motion.

Swanton Wind strongly opposed VCE’s intervention, however, arguing in its response to VCE’s motion that VCE has not demonstrated Swanton Wind’s construction could affect particular interests of the organization or its members. As the board put it, Swanton Wind stated “that such interests are no different from those of the public generally and that those interests will be adequately represented by existing parties.” Continue reading

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Swanton Wind answers opponents’ questions

Saint Albans Messenger: March 28, 2017

First round of discovery underway

By TOM BENTON
Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — Swanton Wind is issuing official answers to a first round of discovery questions. Those answers illustrate the fundamental divide between the project’s developers and its most fervent critics.

The discovery process essentially begins the project’s Public Service Board (PSB) review, the required regulatory process before a project may be approved for construction. Parties recognized as formal participants in the board’s process submit specific questions for Swanton Wind. The project’s representatives must provide equally specific answers.

Answers provided so far have been generally clarifying. Swanton Wind’s respective responses to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and to Christine and Dustin Lang, residents near the project’s proposed site, offer the most information.

Many of ANR’s questions are questions previously asked, in less regulated settings, by the project’s opponents — for example, the question of blasting. The project’s opponents have expressed concern over the lack of specificity in Swanton Wind’s PSB application regarding blasting plans.

Swanton Wind responded that the specifics of the project’s blasting plan won’t be determined until after geotechnical testing, and that that testing won’t take place until after the project’s approval. The project attached a preliminary blasting plan by Maine Drilling & Blasting, out of New Haven, Vt., which explains blasting procedure, and added that Swanton Wind plans to offer pre-blasting surveys to residents within 2,500 feet of the project. Continue reading

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Swanton Wind faces further allegations

St. Albans Messenger, March 22, 2017
By TOM BENTON

Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — A Swanton sugaring business is suing Swanton Wind, alleging trespassing and illegal road construction as well as a host of complaints related to the project itself, despite the fact the project is still undergoing a Public Service Board review.

Mark and Marianne Dubie own M& M VT Maple, LLC, the company suing Swanton Wind, LLC and its manager, Travis Belisle. The Dubies’ attorney, Hans Huessy, filed the lawsuit with the Franklin County Superior Court, Civil Division, on March 3.

M& M owns land adjacent to Swanton Wind’s proposed construction site. According to the complaint, one of the project’s proposed turbines will stand within 50 feet of M& M’s property. Continue reading

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PSB delays permit process, again

St. Albans Messenger, March 11, 2017

SWANTON WIND
By TOM BENTON
Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — A Public Service Board decision has forced Swanton Wind to redesign its potential power purchase agreements — but that doesn’t mean the project is going anywhere.

That decision is Public Service Board (PSB) Rule 4.100, which orders that power purchase agreements (PPAs) encompass seven-year periods. Prior to Rule 4.100, PPAs were 30-year contracts. Rule 4.100 contained several other significant amendments to the power-purchase process, significant enough to rewrite the structure of the system, and to force a number of pending energy projects to reconsider their PPAs — including Swanton Wind.

Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) attorney David Rugh said at a Feb. 22 meeting of the commission’s project review committee the changes were so significant they could force Swanton Wind’s developers “back to the drawing board” to determine if the project was even viable anymore. Continue reading

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Swanton Wind questions National Guard motives

St. Albans Messenger, March 2, 2017
Vermont Guard mischaracterizes FAA findings

By TOM BENTON
Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — The Vermont National Guard has defended its opposition to Swanton Wind despite the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s determination that the project would not be hazardous to air traffic and a similar conclusion by the New York and Vermont Air National Guards.

The Vermont National Guard is not the same as the Air National Guard, which has a separate administration.

The Vermont National Guard (VTNG) filed a motion to intervene in the Public Service Board (PSB)’s regulatory process concerning Swanton Wind on Feb. 23. Its motion listed three reasons for intervention, and opposition, including that “the FAA has released its aeronautical study and concluded that the structure as described exceeds obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities.” Continue reading

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