Lowell Wind – PSB Changes Noise Compensation Plans



Robin Smith
Staff Writer

State utility regulators want to include more neighbors in any noise compensation plan involving the Lowell wind project.

In a new order, the Vermont Public Service Board adjusted its own original conditions governing the Lowell wind project and said that non-adjoining landowners can seek compensation for excessive noise that hinders or limits development of their land.

“While we expect that the landowners most likely to qualify for compensation under the revised plan are those whose properties share a boundary with the project parcel, it is possible that a non-adjoining landowner could experience an impairment of otherwise develop-able land as a result of noise levels in excess of the board-imposed standard,” according to the board’s ruling Oct. 5.

Those who want compensation are restricted to parcels that existed before the Lowell wind project was granted a certificate of public good in May 2011, the board stated. That’s to prevent landowners from subdividing their land to gain noise compensation from Green Mountain Power.

The board sent GMP back to rework its noise compensation plan one more time.

The most recent decision also leaves open the idea that was established under the certificate of public good that another renewable energy developer may want to use the Lowell ridgeline once GMP stops using its 21 industrial-grade turbines and takes them down as part of the decommissioning of the project.

The board pointed out that the neighboring parcels that receive compensation are subject to a prohibition on residential development until decommissioning. Any future energy projects envisioned under the certificate would benefit from the easement that allows the wind project to go forward as long as the noise levels are the same or less as the Lowell wind project.

GMP has most of its turbines erected and several are in operation, generating electricity.

A spokesman said last week that the project will meet the deadline and go online completely before the end of the year. That means GMP would qualify for production tax credits to reduce the cost of generation by $45 million.

Those tax credits expire by the end of the year, unless Congress acts to extend them.

An appeal on the certificate of public good is before the Vermont Supreme Court.

Stormwater runoff and water quality appeals are being heard by the PSB.

Meanwhile, various lawsuits are being heard in Orleans Superior Court — Civil Division.