Vermont court rejects wind site challenge

The Vermont Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to Green Mountain Power‘s (GMP) Kingdom Community Wind project, saying state regulators adequately reviewed its potential impacts.        

The Oct. 19 ruling dismissed appeals filed by two towns and others that the 63-MW project’s impact on were not adequately addressed by the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB).

The project is a joint venture of GMP, Vermont Electric Cooperative, (VEC), and Vermont Electric Power Co. and Vermont Transco LLC (VELCO). The companies requested a certificate of public good in May of 2010 for a facility on Lowell Mountain. The project includes 21 turbines and associated infrastructure.

The PSB granted the petition with 45 conditions on May  31, 2011, following four rounds of prefiled testimony, several site visits, a public hearing, and nine days of technical hearings involving over 40 expert and lay witnesses, the court noted.

“Generally speaking, the Board found that the project, consistent with the expressed intent of the Legislature, would help meet the region’s need for renewable energy, provide an economic benefit to the state in the form of jobs and tax revenues, and provide GMP and VEC with a long-term source of stably priced power,” the court continued.

It also noted that the “We give great deference to the Board’s expertise and judgment and accord a strong presumption of validity to the Board’s orders … and an appellant bears a heavy burden of demonstrating clear error,” a standard which was met, according to the ruling.

The towns of Albany and Craftsbury, Vt., as well as the Lowell Mountains Group, filed several appeals, objecting to incomplete review turbine noise impacts, environmental issues related to blight and habitat disruption.

The project is expected to come online before the end of 2012.