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.

This disclosure combined with the prefiled testimony of Martha Staskus, a member of the Swanton Wind development team which states: “The specific wind turbine manufacturer, manufacturer’s model and quantity will be selected closer to the construction period” (after a CPG has been issued). The absence of this turbine information is critical in determining the adverse effects of this project. Effects such as: ice throw, noise and shadow flicker (shadows caused by the blades sweeping through the sunlight/moonlight-strobe affect).

Add to this the fact that Swanton Wind has not submitted a storm water permit application and you get an idea of how these regulations were changed.

Storm water permits have become a hot topic with the State of Vermont and as a result the state has increased the yearly fees to renew these permits. This is in response to water quality issues, especially in regards to Lake Champlain. Swanton Wind’s storm water will be discharged into Lake Champlain and no permit will be necessary until after a CPG is issued.

A buyer for the project’s power has not been found and a long term Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) contract has been denied by the PSB at the request of Green Mountain Power because of the high cost that would be incurred by the rate payers. Other important facts, which are not known yet, are the results of an interconnecting study to evaluate the impacts to the ISO New England Grid.

Industrial wind projects are multi-million dollar construction projects that occur in fragile ridge line environments and important information such as structure type, foot print, drainage and economic impacts are not known before a permit is granted?

Try not checking those boxes on a building permit application and see how far you get.

The legislature has granted the wind industry these advantages and every legislator sitting in Montpelier is responsible for this gap in the permitting process as they leave these legislated gifts intact.

Dustin Lang, Swanton

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