St. Albans Messenger, Feb. 2, 2017
By TOM BENTON
Messenger Staff Writer
SWANTON — The Public Service Board (PSB) has issued a revised schedule for its regulatory review of Swanton Wind.
The board also ordered the project’s representatives to respond to a motion alleging Swanton Wind did not use the most recent version of Swanton’s grand list to identify property owners adjacent to the project’s proposed construction site.
The PSB initially scheduled its review process in Oct. 2016. The PSB process begins with a public workshop, allowing attendees to directly question Swanton Wind’s developers and representatives regarding the project’s specifics and, in doing so, determine whether those attendees want to apply for formal participation in the PSB process. The PSB, and all currently recognized participants, initially agreed that workshop would take place on Jan. 3, but “inclement weather” forced its cancellation. That left the PSB’s original timeline for its review process up in the air, especially when disagreements between parties on a new date and location for the workshop further delayed its rescheduling.
The workshop is now scheduled for Feb. 9 in the Swanton Village Municipal Complex starting at 5 p.m. The PSB issued a revised schedule for its regulatory process at the same time it issued a rescheduling order for the workshop. The new schedule only delays the process by a matter of weeks, partially through reducing the amount of time those deciding to participate in the process have to apply to do so, from 11 days after the workshop to seven days after the workshop.
The deadline for those applications is now Feb. 16. Those who wish to formally participate in the PSB’s regulatory process must apply for recognition before the board, although the board accepts submitted public comments throughout its process.
The PSB will now spend March on written discovery, and take direct testimony from non-Swanton Wind — but formally recognized — participants on Apr. 17. Rebuttals and further testimony continue until July. The board will conduct a public hearing and site visit the week of July 17, and a technical hearing the week of Sept. 11. A deadline for closing briefs has not been set, but the board will likely set that date for late September or October.
The board will then decide whether to grant Swanton Wind’s developers their sought-after Certificate of Public Good, allowing the project’s construction under Title 30, Section 248 of the Vermont Statutes.
Christine and Dustin Lang reside adjacent to Swanton Wind’s proposed construction site. The Langs filed a motion at the end of Dec. 2016, arguing that a significant portion of Swanton Wind’s PSB application should be excluded because it does not meet Section 248 criteria. Swanton Wind filed its response in late January.
But now the PSB has ordered Swanton Wind to respond again, specifically to the Langs’ assertion that the project’s developers, Travis and Ashley Belisle, did not use the most recent iteration of Swanton’s grand list in determining properties adjacent to the project’s proposed construction site. The issue connects with the Langs’ assertion that the Belisles’ offer to buy out adjacent landowners should be excluded from the PSB application due to irrelevance.
“An issue raised by the Lang motion was Swanton Wind’s alleged failure to properly certify… that it identified adjoining landowners using the Swanton grand list as it existed no more than 60 days prior to the date notice of the petition was given to those landowners,” the board’s order states, “and to provide the date when the grand list was certified. Swanton Wind’s opposition does not appear to directly respond to this allegation.”
The PSB has ordered a response by Feb. 10. The board has not ruled on the rest of the Langs’ motion, or Swanton Wind’s response, as of yet.