Swanton Wind answers opponents’ questions

First round of discovery underway

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

Just
The Facts

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SWANTON — Swanton Wind is issuing official answers to a first round of discovery questions. Those answers illustrate the fundamental divide between the project’s developers and its most fervent critics.

The discovery process essentially begins the project’s Public Service Board (PSB) review, the required regulatory process before a project may be approved for construction. Parties recognized as formal participants in the board’s process submit specific questions for Swanton Wind. The project’s representatives must provide equally specific answers.

Answers provided so far have been generally clarifying. Swanton Wind’s respective responses to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and to Christine and Dustin Lang, residents near the project’s proposed site, offer the most information.

Many of ANR’s questions are questions previously asked, in less regulated settings, by the project’s opponents — for example, the question of blasting. The project’s opponents have expressed concern over the lack of specificity in Swanton Wind’s PSB application regarding blasting plans.

Swanton Wind responded that the specifics of the project’s blasting plan won’t be determined until after geotechnical testing, and that that testing won’t take place until after the project’s approval. The project attached a preliminary blasting plan by Maine Drilling & Blasting, out of New Haven, Vt., which explains blasting procedure, and added that Swanton Wind plans to offer pre-blasting surveys to residents within 2,500 feet of the project.

ANR requested an estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project, specifically during its construction. Swanton Wind denied knowledge of any rule or regulation requiring that estimate, and offered instead an estimation of the project’s CO2 offset over 20 years: 320,000 metric tons, “a factor of 100 times greater than the carbon stored in 40 acres of trees” — roughly the acreage to be cleared for the project.

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