State department responds to Wells tower complaint
By Cristina Kumka
STAFF WRITER | November 23,2012
WELLS — The Vermont Department of Public Service has asked Vermont Electric Power Company, VELCO, to clearly mark and secure an electric cable on a mountaintop in town that leads to a company radio tower project, following a complaint filed with the state Public Service Board by neighboring homeowners Olga Julinska and Felix Kniazev.
On Oct. 31, VELCO filed a “request for non-substantial change determination,” a document that alters the plans approved in the company’s original Certificate of Public Good permit issued by the PSB this past March.
That permit allowed VELCO to construct the 80-foot tower near the couple’s home on Northeast Mountain for the company’s Statewide Radio project. The purpose of the project is to help VELCO’s own employees’ radio communications during power outages.
In the nonsubstantial change filing, VELCO told the board about a number of changes made to the tower project, including the installation of a 3,700-foot, on-the-ground armored electric service cable to feed electricity to the tower.
In a response to the VELCO request dated Nov. 16, Jeanne Elias, attorney for the Department of Public Service, wrote to the Public Service Board that it and VELCO have agreed that the company be obligated to clearly mark the cable location as long as the cable is in place to prevent any health or safety hazards on the land where the cable sits. The land is owned by Mettowee Lumber Company.
Another development in the ongoing dispute: The Vermont Public Service Board asked VELCO this week to respond to a complaint filed by the homeowners that the changes to the plan were substantial, that their driveway was blocked and electricity to feed the tower was still being drawn from their home. That response is due Nov. 26.
The Public Service Board is also making a site visit to the property Nov. 27 at 11 a.m.
The project has been a point of contention between the company and the couple who have been trying to prevent the construction of the tower for more than a year, citing health hazards for their family.