Q. Which § 248 criteria will the Department be submitting recommendations on?
A. The Department will be submitting recommendations on the following criteria under 30 5 V.S.A. § 248(b):
(1) whether the proposed project will unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region with due consideration having been given to the recommendations of the municipal and regional planning commissions, the recommendations of the municipal legislative bodies, and the land conservation measures contained in the plan of any affected municipality;
(2) whether the proposed project is required to meet the need for present and future demand for service which could not otherwise be provided in a more cost effective manner through energy conservation programs and measures and energy-efficiency and load management measures, including but not limited to those developed pursuant to the provisions of sections 209(d), 218c, and 218(b) of Title 30;
(3) whether the proposed project will adversely affect system stability and reliability;
(4) whether the proposed project will result in an economic benefit to the state and its residents;
(5) whether the proposed project will have an undue adverse effect on aesthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment and the public health and safety, with due consideration having been given to the criteria specified in 10 V.S.A. § 1424a(d) and § 6086(a)(1) through (8) and (9)(K);1
(6) whether the proposed project is consistent with the principles for resource selection expressed in the petitioner's approved least cost integrated plan;
(7) whether the proposed project is in compliance with the electric energy plan approved by the Department under section 202 of Title 30, or that there exists good cause to permit the proposed action; and,
(10) whether the proposed project can be served economically by existing or planned transmission facilities without undue adverse effect on Vermont utilities or customers. 30 V.S.A. § 248(b)(1)
Q. Do you have any concerns about the project’s impacts on the aesthetics of the surrounding environment?
A. Mr. Kane responds at length to the question of aesthetics and concludes that the project will have an undue adverse impact on the surrounding visual environment.
Q. Do you have any concerns about the project’s impact on public investments?
A. Yes. Based on the testimony of DPS witness Mark Kane, I am concerned that the project may unreasonably interfere with the public’s use and enjoyment of Crystal Lake State Park.
Q. Does the Department support issuing a Certificate of Public Good for this project under 5 30 V.S.A. § 248?
A. As of the filing of this testimony, the Department does not support the issuance of a CPG for this project because there is insufficient evidence for the Board to make necessary findings under 30 V.S.A. §§ 248(b)(1) (orderly development); (b)(3) (system stability and reliability); (b)(4) (economic benefit); (b)(5) (with respect to municipal services); and (b)(10) (existing or planned transmission facilities without undue impact). Additionally, as stated by Mr. Kane, in his professional opinion the project will have an undue, adverse impact on the surrounding natural environment and therefore fails under 30 V.S.A. § 248(b)(5).
Q. Are there any other issues that you wish to address at this time?
A. Yes, in the event the Board ultimately decides to grant a CPG to the petitioner, it should impose conditions related to the decommissioning of the project. Specifically, the Board should require UPC to establish and maintain an adequate decommissioning fund to insure that the site will be returned to its natural state at the time the generation plant ceases to be used for commercial production. I believe that UPC’s description of what should be done to accomplish decommissioning is reasonable generally. However, the petitioner has submitted no detail regarding the cost of such decommissioning or proposed a specific mechanism for funding the work. Additionally, it appears that UPC proposes to finance the fund over time through revenues generated from the project’s operation. The Department believes this approach is insufficient and that a decommissioning fund should be fully financed prior to any significant construction activities taking place. As part of this condition, I recommend the Board direct the petitioner to provide a detailed study on the costs of removing the turbines, all related infrastructure, and returning the summit area to a more natural condition. Additionally, any conditions the Board imposes on the project that implicate the land rights of UPC’s lessors and any potential successors in interest to those land rights should be required to be included in all lease agreements between UPC and its lessor/landlords and the leases should be required to be recorded in the relevant municipal land records.