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PSB Says Georgia Mountain Wind Violated State Permit

Georgia Mountain Wind
The Georgia Mountain Wind Project includes four turbines that straddle the towns of Milton, in Chittenden County, and Georgia, in Franklin County. The project is owned by Jim Harrison, who owns the land, and David Blittersdorf.

The Public Service Board says the Georgia Mountain Community Wind project violated conditions of its state permit when it operated with ice on its turbines.

Melodie McLane lives in Fairfax, near the project, and in March she complained to the Public Service Board that the ice caused an increase in the noise levels.

McLane and her husband Scott have been fierce opponents of the project, and she says the state needs to do a better job monitoring Georgia Mountain, as well as the other industrial wind projects in Vermont.

"It is great that for one of the first times ever, the Department of Public Service and Public Service Board has recognized the issue and ruled on our side," she said. "But that's not enough. They need to take responsibility themselves and monitor these things themselves, because we shouldn't have to do it."

The hearing officer did not rule directly on the noise issue, but said the project's winter protocol requires operators to stop the turbines when there is ice.

The owners of the project didn't dispute the fact that the turbines had ice on them.

But they said the project only needs to be shut down when there are extreme weather conditions and a threat to public safety, and they said operators should be allowed to decide when to shut down.

The hearing officer disagreed and ruled in favor of McLane.

Georgia Mountain Wind did not respond to an email message seeking comment.

With the Public Service Board ruling, the hearing officer will now recommend a civil penalty to be imposed on Georgia Mountain Community Wind.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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