Skip to content

What is Reunion Power proposing for Pittsford Ridge?

March 24, 2012

And what is the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources telling Reunion Power?

Click on the links to read the public records.

From Agency of Natural Resources, Feb. 9, 2012

“We decided to draft a letter so that our opposition to the project would be official.”

From ANR Public Records, Dec. 2011 through Feb. 2012

December 2011 meeting note summary by Josh Brown, TRC Environmental:

Attendees:

Jon Groveman, ANR General Counsel

Chris Recchia, ANR Deputy Secretary

Steve Eisenberg, Reunion Power

Laura Caspari, Nordex USA

Josh Brown, TRC Environmental

This meeting was held in theVT Agency of Natural Resources’s (ANR) temporary offices in

Waitsfield, VT to discuss ANR’s concerns for fragmentation/connectivity and rare and irreplaceable

natural areas associated with the Grandpa’s Knob Wind park (GPK).

Background: Grandpa’s Knob Wind Project (GPK) was originally under development by Noble

Environmental Power from 2006 to 2009 when Reunion Power (Reunion) purchased the

development rights to the site. Reunion has contracted with TRC to assist in the development of the

Project with Josh Brown (who was the former Environmental Project Manager for the site when

under development by Noble ) involved as their Project Manager. Reunion is intending to use

Nordex turbines for the site and is working closely with Nordex to progress the Project. Reunion,

Nordex and TRC met with ANR, FWS and ACOE in June to re-introduce the project and discuss the

work done on site and future work scoped for the Project. In response to this initial meeting TRC

circulated for comment draft study protocols to state and federal agency for review and comment on

October 5,2011, and requested comments on the protocols and a meeting to discuss. The December

8th meeting was set up discuss ANR’s initial response from staff after review of the study protocols.

Discussion: ANR is seeking to assist developers in assessing concerns for wind development sites

early in the process to help focus early environmental studies and avoid costly environmental survey

on sites that are not suitable for development. After review of the proposed study protocols and

proposed project area with ANR staff the issue of fragmentation/connectivity and rare and

Grandpa’s Knob Wind Project Meeting with VT Agency of Natural Resources Summary

irreplaceable natural areas emerged as a concern that ANR believes is untenable. ANR provided a

map of habitat blocks of greatest concern for fragmentation in the state with Blueberry Hill identified

as the second highest area of concern in the Taconics region of VT. The proposed project area is

entirely within the Blueberry Hill management area.

The project team has numerous additional questions about the specific concerns of ANR related to

this area, including a baseline understanding of the existing resources and the areas of significant

natural communities and fragmentation concerns. The project team assumes that ANR has a

fundamental misunderstanding of the impacts that would be associated with the project. This

assumption is supported by the fact that ANR has not reviewed a proposed project footprint or

application at this time.

ANR’s Dept. Sec. report to Sec. Deb Markowitz about Dec. 2011 meeting with Reunion Power

Deb –

I think it went about as well as it could have. We were clear and specific.

As you know, the meeting yesterday was precipitated by staff learning that applications might

be forthcoming and staff concern that the habitat area of Grandpa’s knob was, taken as a

whole, a rare and irreplaceable natural area (RINA). The habitat block scored 11th in the

state (out of 4,055 blocks total), and 2nd in the Taconic range only to the Bomoseen block

that is already state owned. It is the largest contiguous block in the Taconics. Along with

the numerous rare species and state-significant natural communities (which evidently

constitutes a RINA in its own right) we felt a meeting was warranted. The Reunion Power

project is expected to propose about 20 turbines along about seven miles of ridgeline at the

north end of the Taconic range. We asked them to come in.

J0n and I met with the owner and consultant to explain that we did not see a way of

overcoming these resource obstacles, as, unlike Lowell, there is no opportunity for nearby

offsite compensation that could maintain the connectivity goals, not to mention the steep

hurdle of the natural communities on the site. We gave them the habitat block map. I

explained that I was not in the direct regulatory loop and not prejudging any application,

but wanted to give early warning about the habitat value before they start spending lots of

money and we lots of time, and that we did not see a technical way of overcoming these

concerns. The owner appeared to appreciate the heads-up, and while disappointed, seemed to

understand. The consultant, on the other hand, while respectful, seemed inclined to want to

talk to us about how they’d been adjusting the project to minimize impact, and that “their

consultant was disappointed in the habitat value,” (i.e. they were expecting better ) and

“have we seen the modern construction techniques,” etc.. They want to meet with our

biologists, to which we agreed for the sole purpose of discussing the staff perspective about

the habitat and connectivity value, not to discuss the project.

So, I don’t think they will not pursue this, but in the spirit of letting people know of

concerns at the earliest time, we could not have been clearer or delivered a stronger message

that this site presents significant hurdles t o wind development that we do not see a path to

get through. That said, we cannot prevent them from filing an application, and should they

choose that path, we urged them t o deal with these harder issues first , rather than, for

example, start on stormwater applications, etc.. We’ll see.

Let me know if you need more info.

Thanks,

– Chris

ANR Public Records from Oct. 2011 — scientific staff concerns

Pat, Kim, and Mark,

I have discussed this upcoming wind project on Blueberry Hill (Granpa’s Knob) with all of you briefly.  My comments below are preliminary, as we have not received any detailed plans for the project yet and there are many studies still to be completed. But, I was hoping to identify early in ANR’s review of this project that there are significant concerns with the project and that this may not be an appropriate site for wind development because of natural community and habitat fragmentation issues. In addition to these issues, the habitat block has importance for regional connectivity and we may want to address public investment because of the Blueberry Hill WMA (Bob Zaino has identified additional natural communities and rare plants) and the Hubbardton Battlefield.

The attached maps show the Blueberry Hill habitat block and a closeup of the block showing a line about 7 miles long (the possible length of the turbine string).

Please let me know if want any more information on this,

Eric

Eric Sorenson, Community Ecologist


Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: