Article

Public Service Board denies permit for East Haven wind farm

MONTPELIER, Vt. --A company's bid to build a wind farm atop a remote Northeast Kingdom mountain was rejected by the Public Service Board on Monday because of concerns about how the turbines would affect birds and bats.

In its decision, the board said that officials of the East Haven Windfarm had not presented sufficient evidence to show that the four 329-foot turbines would not hurt populations of bats and migratory birds in the area.

"We ... know that wind turbine sites located in eastern forested high-elevation sites have experienced elevated bat mortality rates. And we know that there are likely to be resident bat populations on East Mountain," said the board's 108-page decision."

"The record shows that there is little solid information on the risks of migrating bird collisions with wind turbines for high-elevation sites in the northeastern United States," the order said. "Without preconstruction radar studies, we are unable to determine whether the project's design has been optimized to avoid or minimize bird impacts."

East Haven Windfarm Vice President Dave Rapaport said Monday officials were reading the decision.

"We're reading it and have no comment," said Rapaport.

David O'Brien, the commissioner of the Department of Public Service which supported the project, said he felt the board's decision was sound. He said he didn't know if East Haven... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

In its decision, the board said that officials of the East Haven Windfarm had not presented sufficient evidence to show that the four 329-foot turbines would not hurt populations of bats and migratory birds in the area.
 
"We ... know that wind turbine sites located in eastern forested high-elevation sites have experienced elevated bat mortality rates. And we know that there are likely to be resident bat populations on East Mountain," said the board's 108-page decision."
 
"The record shows that there is little solid information on the risks of migrating bird collisions with wind turbines for high-elevation sites in the northeastern United States," the order said. "Without preconstruction radar studies, we are unable to determine whether the project's design has been optimized to avoid or minimize bird impacts."
 
East Haven Windfarm Vice President Dave Rapaport said Monday officials were reading the decision.
 
"We're reading it and have no comment," said Rapaport.
 
David O'Brien, the commissioner of the Department of Public Service which supported the project, said he felt the board's decision was sound. He said he didn't know if East Haven would do the bird and bat study and resubmit the application.
 
He said the bird and bat study could be done.
 
"I'm not going to deny that it's expensive," O'Brien said. "The energy development business is not for the faint of heart. It requires significant capital resources."
 
East Haven Windfarm first proposed in 2003 building the turbines on the site of a former military radar base on remote East Mountain in East Haven.
 
The turbines would generate 6 megawatts of power -- or 200 million kilowatt-hours a year. The electricity would be sold to the Lyndonville Electric Department, whose territory extends to nearby towns including the project's host, East Haven, population about 300.
 
The decision was made by two of three members of the Public Service Board. Chairman James Volz recused himself from the case because he once worked on it as an attorney for the Public Service Department.
 
In its decision rejecting a certificate of public good for the project, the board adopted some of the recommendations of hearing officer Kurt Janson, who said there wasn't enough information to determine if the spinning turbine blades could potentially threaten the bats and the birds.
 
But the board rejected Janson's conclusions that the project would mar the visual beauty of the region, near the so-called Champion Lands, an 88,000 acre parcel that been preserved wild for public access.
 
The board said the East Mountain project would be built on the site of an abandoned Air Force radar base and a paved road runs to the summit. And the turbines wouldn't be visible from most of the Champion Lands.
 
"The record also reveals that relatively few members of the public visit the Champion Lands, and of those who do, a substantial proportion are engaging in activities, particularly snowmobiling and hunting, the enjoyment of which is unlikely to be significantly degraded by the presence of four wind turbines on the summit of East Mountain," the board said.
 
Sandy Levine of the Vermont office of the Conservation Law Foundation said the board's decision recognized what she felt were the benefits of wind power.
 
"It's a step in the direction to allow wind projects to move forward in Vermont and in the region and to make sure that projects that do go forward address environmental impacts, Levine said. "We need more wind power in Vermont if we want to reduce global warming and reduce the use of fossil fuels."


Source: http://www.boston.com/news...

JUL 17 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3551-public-service-board-denies-permit-for-east-haven-wind-farm
back to top