PSB hearing officer rejects wind turbine plan

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(Host) This week, a proposed wind farm in the Northeast Kingdom got a negative report from a hearing officer for the Public Service Board.

The hearing officer has recommended that the Board reject a plan to construct four wind turbines in East Haven on a 17-acre site that’s located near the Champion Lands conservation area.

The preliminary 91-page decision says the case “requires a balancing of two fundamental state policies: promoting in state renewable resources and protecting Vermont’s ridgelines.”

In rejecting the proposal, hearing officer Kurt Janson wrote that he believes the plan would adversely affect the aesthetic impact of public lands beyond the East Haven area. He said that the project might be the right project, but that it was in the wrong place.

David Rappaport is vice president of EastHaven Wind Farm:

(Rappaport) “We’re disappointed but we need to finish reading the decision and we may have some further comment later.”

(Host) The Douglas Administration has been supporting the East Haven proposal as a way to provide a pilot for other wind projects in Vermont.

Deputy Public Service Department commissioner Richard Smith says he’s a little surprised by the rejection of the plan:

(Smith) “Our thinking was though that this site had a lot of the advantages that other sites may not have, which is it had previously been a disturbed site and had a road already built up leading to it. So there were less issues along those areas. But again, his view in this was it was in the wrong place.”

(Host) Smith says the East Haven case certainly reflects concerns that have been raised about other wind projects in the state.

(Smith) “What the hearing officer did was outline some of the issues that I think we’re going to face with all of these wind projects that either are about to come before the Board or are before the Board right now. I think the issue about where they are sited and its effect on the environment are probably the two biggest issues that we’re facing to date.”

(Host) If the full Board agrees with the preliminary ruling, East Haven WindFarm says it may consider an appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court.

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