PSB APPROVES UPC SHEFFIELD WIND PROJECT WITH CONDITIONS

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PSB APPROVES UPC SHEFFIELD WIND PROJECT WITH CONDITIONS

Tue, 08/07/2007 - 8:00pm -- tim

PSB APPROVES UPC SHEFFIELD WIND PROJECT WITH CONDITIONS

Montpelier, VT, August 8, 2007 The Vermont Public Service Board today issued an order approving a
16-turbine, 40 megawatt wind generation facility in Sheffield, Vermont, with the requirement that
the applicant, UPC Wind, must meet a number of conditions set by the Board related to power
contracts, noise, traffic, and decommissioning. The Board found that the economic benefits and
provision 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 wind
generation facilities such as the one proposed by UPC can provide a number of benefits to
Vermont and the region, such as fuel diversity, energy independence, reduced air emissions, and
increased tax revenue. The Board cited a number of specific economic benefits offered by this
project, 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 for
renewable power in the regional power pool of which Vermont is a member, and to serving
Vermonts load growth with renewables, a matter of policy which has been adopted by the
Vermont Legislature.
Visual impacts of the project were a central concern for many members of the public and
several parties. The Board concluded that the visual impacts would not be unduly adverse under
the Environmental Boards Quechee Test adopted by the Public Service Board, and ruled that
the benefits of the project outweigh the visual impacts. In making this finding, the Board relied on
visual simulations and analyses demonstrating that most views of the project will be from a
distance such that the size will not be overwhelming, and consequently, the average person will
not find the project shocking or offensive, a standard used by the Board in cases such as this
one.
Conditions in the Board order include setting maximum noise levels to protect nearby
locations, approving a wildlife protection agreement reached between the Agency of Natural
Resources and UPC, and adopting requirements to protect towns that will be affected by
construction traffic. In addition, the order requires a fully-funded decommissioning account to
ensure the facility can be removed and the site restored when it no longer provides substantial
public benefit.
The order requires UPC to negotiate and submit to the Board its power sale agreements
with Vermont utilities to provide greater price stability than the companys proposal, which
provided for the sale of all the projects output to Vermont utilities, but indexed most of the price
to the New England wholesale electricity market. The condition reflects Vermont law that
encourages the development of renewable energy in part because renewable generation does not
depend 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 of
the power to Vermont utilities at a fixed percentage below the New England wholesale electricity
market price, which is largely tied to the volatile and rising price of natural gas. UPC will have the
opportunity to submit new contracts that include mechanisms providing greater price stability, or
to show that the contracts as proposed provide the best possible arrangement.
Power generation projects that connect to the electric grid, including wind farms such as
the proposed project, can be built only with the approval of the Board in the form of a Certificate
of Public Good (CPG). To grant such a CPG, the Board must find, based on a formal process and
on specific standards in Vermont law, that the project promotes the general good of the state. In
reaching 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, from
over one hundred citizens at three public hearings, and from hundreds more members of the public
in written comments, and the Board conducted a site visit, viewing the proposed project location
from many vantage points around the Northeast Kingdom.
The order is available on the Boards website at http://www.state.vt.us/psb.

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For immediate release Wednesday, August 08, 2007.