Saint Albans Messenger; October 25, 2016
No schedule yet for future hearings
By TOM BENTON
Messenger Staff Writer
MONTPELIER — The Public Service Board began its review of the Swanton Wind Project in a pre-hearing conference Monday, initiating the final regulatory process before the project can begin construction.
The board planned to schedule that process during the pre-hearing conference, but requests from the project’s attorney, Leslie Cadwell, delayed doing so. Cadwell requested an early deadline for “intervenor” applications, the board’s term for those who have officially applied to participate in its process. She suggested the board allow only two more weeks for interested parties to apply for intervenor status.
She requested the discovery process, in which parties are questioned as to statements and exhibits provided by their respective witnesses, happen as soon as possible, so that answers stemming from that process
Swanton Wind developer Travis Belisle, flanked by his wife and co-developer Ashley and attorney Anthony Iarrapino, listens to the Public Service Board during yesterday’s pre-hearing in Montpelier.
TOM BENTON, St. Albans Messenger
could be submitted prior to December holidays and ensure “folks have time to digest that first round” before returning in mid-January.
Cadwell’s final request, which she said “will serve the process and the public much better,” was to hold the public hearing “after there’s been more facts developed.”
“Normally public hearings are only held with the petitioner’s information in hand,” Cadwell said. “I think it limits the public’s ability to really understand all the facts about getting information, even through discovery or through the other parties through prefiled testimony.”
Instead, Cadwell suggested the board schedule the public hearing prior to the technical hearing. “That would allow the public to have more meaningful participation, because they’ll have the benefit of more information from all sides,” she said.
The other intervenors, gathered around the table, did not generally object to Cadwell’s requests, though Ed Adrian, an attorney representing the Town of Swanton, objected to the proposed two-week deadline for intervenor applications, which would require submitted applications around Nov. 21.
“We represent the town as an entity, but there’s a lot of people in the town, and two weeks is a pretty aggressive timeline, especially when people are thinking about cooking turkeys and things that come after that,” he said. “We feel that it’s really important to allow the intervenors enough time to make a decision when they don’t have other things on their mind.”
Adrian requested the application deadline come after the public hearing in January.
The board has taken these suggestions and requests under advisement.
With scheduling off the table, the pre-hearing conference mostly served as an early look at the intervenors who will be allowed to participate in the Public Service Board process.
They include the project’s developers, Travis and Ashley Belisle, of Swanton, and Cadwell; Adrian; Christine and Dustin Lang, who reside near the project’s proposed site on Rocky Road in Swanton and are represented by attorney Cindy Hill; Annette Smith, founder and executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, who participated in the conference via phone; Taylor Newton, representing the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, who also participated via phone; and representatives from the Department of Public Service, the Agency of Natural Resources, the Agency of Agriculture and the Division for Historic Preservation.
Though intervenors thus far total less than a dozen, more than twice that number of interested individuals sat around the room, with another halfdozen looking on from the doorway without available seating. A man who said he’d spent most of the past decade protesting industrial wind held up postersized images of Kingdom Community Wind’s construction in Lowell. Swanton Wind attorney Anthony Iarrapino sat beside Ashley Belisle, listening intently. Swanton’s town selectboard chair, Joel Clark, was in attendance, as was selectboard member Jeff Raleigh and Rep. Marianna Gamache, who represents Swanton in the House.
Public Service Board members noted that written comments regarding the project can be filed with the board at any time, regardless of whether the filer has intervenor status. Those seeking to do so can visit psb.vermont.gov, find the “Participate” heading on the right-hand column and click the “File a Public Comment” link underneath.