MONTPELIER — The Public Service Board began its review of the Swanton Wind Project in a pre-hearing conference Monday, initiating the final regulatory process before the project can begin construction.
The board planned to schedule that process during the pre-hearing conference, but requests from the project’s attorney, Leslie Cadwell, delayed doing so.
Cadwell requested an early deadline for “intervenor” applications, the board’s term for those who have officially applied to participate in its process. She suggested the board allow only two more weeks for interested parties to apply for intervenor status.
She requested the discovery process, in which parties are questioned as to statements and exhibits provided by their respective witnesses, happen as soon as possible, so that answers stemming from that process could be submitted prior to December holidays and ensure “folks have time to digest that first round” before returning in mid-January.
Cadwell’s final request, which she said “will serve the process and the public much better,” was to hold the public hearing “after there’s been more facts developed.”
“Normally public hearings are only held with the petitioner’s information in hand,” Cadwell said. “I think it limits the public’s ability to really understand all the facts about getting information, even through discovery or through the other parties through pre-filed testimony.”
Instead, Cadwell suggested the board schedule the public hearing prior to the technical hearing. “That would allow the public to have more meaningful participation, because they’ll have the benefit of more information from all sides,” she said.
The other intervenors, gathered around the table, did not generally object to Cadwell’s requests, though Ed Adrian, an attorney representing the Town of Swanton, objected to the proposed two-week deadline for intervenor applications, which would require submitted applications around Nov. 21.
“We represent the town as an entity, but there’s a lot of people in the town, and two weeks is a pretty aggressive timeline, especially when people are thinking about cooking turkeys and things that come after that,” he said. “We feel that it’s really important to allow the intervenors enough time to make a decision when they don’t have other things on their mind.”
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