SUTTON — A Sutton property owner whose years-long fight to control the level of sound permitted by the State of Vermont allowing the operation of the wind project in Sheffield, has lost his bid to fight a deposition brought by Vermont Wind, LLC, compelling an expert to appear.
Sutton homeowner Paul Brouha, who lives very near some of the industrial wind turbines in Sheffield, is an intervenor in the pending investigation into sound levels from the Vermont Wind LLC wind electric generation facility in Sheffield.
The latest motion in the case brought by Brouha was seeking to quash the Notice of Deposition of Les Blomberg, served on Feb. 11 by Vermont Wind, LLC, the project’s owner, and set to be conducted on March 4, according to recent filings with the PUC.
Brouha had earlier hired Blomberg to conduct an analysis of the noise levels in and around his home, which showed excessive levels beyond what the state-issued Certificate of Public Good allowing the industrial wind project to operate permit.
Ultimately, the Vermont Department of Public Service conducted an independent noise analysis in and around the Brouha home and likewise found in certain conditions, the noise levels exceed what is allowed by the State permit.
In a motion to the PUC filed by Brouha’s attorney, Denise M. Anderson of White River Junction, seeks to quash the notice of deposition served on Blomberg to testify in the investigation’s discovery phase, arguing the costs would be borne by her client, not the State.
Anderson on Wednesday said, “Briefly, the parties conferred on the issues of discovery and agreed to a revised schedule, as filed with the PUC. We are preparing for a May 9th evidentiary hearing before the PUC. The purpose of that hearing is to assess whether to accept the Department of Public Service Report which found a violation of the noise standard for the Sheffield Wind Project.”
The State denied the motion, in a ruling posted to the PUC website on Tuesday of this week.
Anderson had argued in her motion to quash, “Mr. Blomberg is a noise expert who has been working with Mr. Brouha since this matter began in 2010 in Docket 7156. Since that time and throughout Docket 8653, Mr. Blomberg has conducted testing, monitoring and analysis of data, providing expert testimony to the PUC and the parties in numerous ways, including live and written testimony, affidavits and depositions. The PUC and the parties are very familiar with Mr. Blomberg and his opinions.”
Anderson wrote, “In this process, Mr. Brouha is an intervenor in Docket 8653 and he is responsible for all his costs, expenses, and fees in preparing for the hearing. His position is as an individual, not a state regulatory agency or a large multi-million dollar corporation. The cost to Mr. Brouha is personal; the cost to Vermont Wind and the DPS is not personal but shifted to the community, public or investors. It is unfair, oppressive and burdensome to force Mr. Brouha to expend additional personal funds to prepare for and defend his expert in a deposition. Moreover, it is unfair that Mr. Brouha’s expert is faced with additional time pressure in an already very tight time schedule.”
Anderson also argued that the testimony is already in the hands of the PUC and forcing the witness to appear “will generate duplicative testimony.”
In denying Anderson’s motion to quash the deposition sought by the wind company, PUC Hearing Officer Micah Howe on Tuesday wrote, “Concerns for Mr. Brouha’s sensitivity to costs and expenses must be balanced against ensuring that the due process rights of all parties are appropriately observed in Commission proceedings. Vermont Wind has indicated in its deposition notice that it will cooperate (with) Mr. Blomberg on the time and place of the deposition and I am confident that Vermont Wind will remain focused on issues related to Mr. Blomberg’s prefiled testimony and the development of its rebuttal testimony during the deposition to minimize the burden on Mr. Brouha and Mr. Blomberg.”