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PSB APPROVES UPC SHEFFIELD WIND PROJECT WITH CONDITIONS

first_imgPSB APPROVES UPC SHEFFIELD WIND PROJECT WITH CONDITIONSMontpelier, VT, August 8, 2007 The Vermont Public Service Board today issued an order approving a16-turbine, 40 megawatt wind generation facility in Sheffield, Vermont, with the requirement thatthe applicant, UPC Wind, must meet a number of conditions set by the Board related to powercontracts, noise, traffic, and decommissioning. The Board found that the economic benefits andprovision of renewable energy offered by the project as conditioned outweigh its adverse impacts.In approving the project, the Board reiterated its finding from an earlier order that windgeneration facilities such as the one proposed by UPC can provide a number of benefits toVermont and the region, such as fuel diversity, energy independence, reduced air emissions, andincreased tax revenue. The Board cited a number of specific economic benefits offered by thisproject, including increased tax revenues to the state and the host town, the creation of new jobs,and land lease payments. The order noted that the project will contribute to meeting the need forrenewable power in the regional power pool of which Vermont is a member, and to servingVermonts load growth with renewables, a matter of policy which has been adopted by theVermont Legislature.Visual impacts of the project were a central concern for many members of the public andseveral parties. The Board concluded that the visual impacts would not be unduly adverse underthe Environmental Boards Quechee Test adopted by the Public Service Board, and ruled thatthe benefits of the project outweigh the visual impacts. In making this finding, the Board relied onvisual simulations and analyses demonstrating that most views of the project will be from adistance such that the size will not be overwhelming, and consequently, the average person willnot find the project shocking or offensive, a standard used by the Board in cases such as thisone.Conditions in the Board order include setting maximum noise levels to protect nearbylocations, approving a wildlife protection agreement reached between the Agency of NaturalResources and UPC, and adopting requirements to protect towns that will be affected byconstruction traffic. In addition, the order requires a fully-funded decommissioning account toensure the facility can be removed and the site restored when it no longer provides substantialpublic benefit.The order requires UPC to negotiate and submit to the Board its power sale agreementswith Vermont utilities to provide greater price stability than the companys proposal, whichprovided for the sale of all the projects output to Vermont utilities, but indexed most of the priceto the New England wholesale electricity market. The condition reflects Vermont law thatencourages the development of renewable energy in part because renewable generation does notdepend upon fossil fuels, for which prices are increasingly volatile and expected to rise. However,the contracts negotiated by UPC did not capture this benefit because they would have sold most ofthe power to Vermont utilities at a fixed percentage below the New England wholesale electricitymarket price, which is largely tied to the volatile and rising price of natural gas. UPC will have theopportunity to submit new contracts that include mechanisms providing greater price stability, orto show that the contracts as proposed provide the best possible arrangement.Power generation projects that connect to the electric grid, including wind farms such asthe proposed project, can be built only with the approval of the Board in the form of a Certificateof Public Good (CPG). To grant such a CPG, the Board must find, based on a formal process andon specific standards in Vermont law, that the project promotes the general good of the state. Inreaching a decision on the Sheffield project, the Board viewed thousands of pages of testimony,exhibits, and transcripts and heard from 35 witnesses at ten days of evidentiary hearings, fromover one hundred citizens at three public hearings, and from hundreds more members of the publicin written comments, and the Board conducted a site visit, viewing the proposed project locationfrom many vantage points around the Northeast Kingdom.The order is available on the Boards website at http://www.state.vt.us/psb(link is external).###For immediate release Wednesday, August 08, 2007.last_img

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