PSB Bashes Attempts to Delay Wind Project

LOWELL - The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) has denied motions by opposing parties that would have stopped construction of the Kingdom Wind project in Lowell pending a decision by the Vermont Supreme Court on appeals that have been filed by opponents. The motions were intended to halt tree clearing activities and construction. The appeals are intended to reverse the PSB's granting of a Certificate of Public Good for the project.Last week, heavy equipment began creating a staging area and reinforcing a road at the base of the mountain range.On Sept. 6, the PSB denied a motion for stay pending appeals and denied a motion for clarification of its May 31 order of a Certificate of Public Good for the project. The motions were made by the towns of Albany and Craftsbury and by The Lowell Mountain Group (LMG). The LMG made the motion for clarification.The towns and the LMG are opposed to the construction of the 21 industrial wind turbines slated for three miles of ridge line in Lowell.The towns and LMG asserted that they are likely to prevail on the merits of their Vermont Supreme Court Appeals and that a stay is necessary to prevent “irreparable harm.” They also state that a stay will not substantially harm other parties and would best serve the public interest.The PSB disagreed with the assertions and stated that the petitioners “failed to demonstrate that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their appeals, that they will suffer irreparable harm if a stay is not granted, that non-moving parties will not be substantially harmed if a stay is granted, and that the public interest will be served by the grant of a stay.”The PSB also denied LMG's Motion to clarify stating that their order is clear and speaks for itself.The PSB in July granted the part of Green Mountain Power’s (GMP) Motion for Reconsideration that sought to extend the deadline for obtaining the habitat fragmentation-connectivity easements required until December 31. The towns contend that the board should have disregarded that part of GMP's motion because it was not properly before the board, as GMP raised the issue for the first time in its reconsideration request.GMP is working to have the turbines producing power by the end of 2012 in order qualify for $47-million in federal production tax credits.The towns also say the PSB improperly balanced GMP's economic interests against the project's impacts to the natural environment.Among other arguments, GMP argued that a stay, which would halt construction, would cause substantial harm, and a delay would substantially increase the cost of the project.“The disposition of a motion to alter or amend a judgment rests with the discretion of a trial court,” the PSB stated in the ruling. The ruling also states that the decision to allow for an extension for obtaining an easement has to do with the public good, not GMP’s profitability.