Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Vermont
A key aspect Act 174 is that it allows regions and municipalities more influence over siting wind, solar, hydro or other energy facilities during the Public Service Board permitting process, if they have a certified plan in place.
Facing the prospect of having seven 499-foot industrial turbines built on their prized Rocky Ridge hillside, local residents stood with Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott to declare opposition to the project.
The stage is set for a vote that could have big implications for the town of Windham’s landscape and for the wind industry in Vermont. ...While Vermont towns don’t have statutory veto power over such projects, Stiles Brook developer Iberdrola Renewables says it won’t move forward if residents in Windham and neighboring Grafton reject the proposal.
The lack of information from developer David Blittersdorf, consultants or the farmers left residents, Holland property owners and wind opponents from neighboring towns including Albany, Craftsbury, Lowell and Newark to seek answers from each other and anti-wind experts. And it clearly led to a nearly unanimous straw vote by a show of hands in opposition to the project.
Wind energy developer David Blittersdorf is intensifying his fight to avoid being found in violation of state regulations and being penalized for having a wind test tower without a permit on his Kidder Hill property. ...This week, the Irasburg select board rejected an undisclosed offer by Blittersdorf that if accepted would have taken the town out of the hearings over the alleged violation.
The Vermont Department of Public Safety, the state’s consumer advocates, the town of Irasburg and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources now want the state’s utility regulators on the Public Service Board to determine he violated rules in a summary judgment. On Thursday, the PSB hearing officer handling the case, George E. Young, set a schedule for motions and comments about the situation, which could lead to a decision about the investigation and whether it goes forward by late summer or early fall.
One remaining hurdle may involve different interpretations over whether specific language in the bill constitutes a moratorium on wind over the next year. As the bill is currently written, next year the Public Service Board will write specific rules on allowable sound decibels produced by wind turbines. The rules would be retroactive, going back to April 15 of this year.
The House bill, which passed 142-0 on Tuesday and was affirmed by a voice vote Wednesday, directs the Public Service Board to establish sound limits for wind projects through the state’s rule-making process. The sound limits would apply to any future wind projects. Wind opponents are optimistic the new sound limits will be lower than existing measures.
Bray said the bill sets the bar quite high for developers who seek to overturn siting decisions in regional and municipal plans. S.230 also directs the Public Service Board to develop standards for how much noise can come from wind energy generators. Finally, the bill would create a five-person Public Service Board working group to recommend changes that would make the PSB process easier for citizens to participate in.
The bill now states that on or before Sept. 15, 2017 the Public Service Board “shall adopt” specific sound standards for industrial wind turbines. These standards, once adopted, would apply to any project application submitted since April 15. “That provision is huge,” said state Rep. Michael Hebert, R-Vernon. “It addresses in a substantial way the concerns of the people here. They may finally get relief.”
Cheney said the scheme creates confusion and doesn’t provide “consistency and predictability,” both important principles of the regulatory process.
So despite all Anderson’s lofty talk of saving the world from global warming, these renewable energy projects have always been about the money. Throw up a bunch of renewable energy projects, hustle the tax credits and subsidies, and charge ratepayers exorbitant fees for intermittent power. Communities and mountains be damned.
“The question here really is are we so distrustful of the Public Service Board — and for some in this room I'm sure the answer is yes — that the board can actually develop policies and behave in a way that does ensure people can have peaceful living if they happen to be located near a wind turbine,” Ashe said. In fact, the answer to that question was yes for the majority of the senators in the room, and the amendment passed.
In granting Certificates of Public Good and their associated establishment and measurement of noise standards for wind turbines inside neighboring homes rather than at property lines, the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) has essentially awarded wind developers an uncompensated nuisance noise, health, and safety easement across private property even though that neighboring parcel has not been leased to the wind developer. In effect, future development rights on thousands of acres of private property have been stripped from Vermont’s rural citizens.
Rep. Marianna Gamache, R-Swanton, introduced five bills that would increase public notification requirements for proposed renewable energy projects and give communities the right to veto larger projects. ...“If you say it’ll help, I’ll go along with the program, as long as it’s something I don’t find offensive, and many people find industrial wind offensive.”
State Rep. Marianna Gamache, R-Swanton, noted that S.230 lacks a wind turbine component. “This passed without any reference to sound regarding the wind turbines,” she said. “I’m very disappointed because this is a real issue for people who are living under the blade. This will now affect those people going forward.”
Draft rules being unveiled Monday aim to improve the siting of solar projects by helping communities and residents give input and by creating financial incentives, according to a member of the Public Service Board. Margaret Cheney ...Well-placed solar arrays would earn the developer a higher rate from utilities for the electricity, known as a solar adder, Cheney said. Poorly located arrays would get what Cheney called a subtractor.
Lawmakers concerned by a growing revolt against wind and solar projects are considering ways to give locals more control over the decision-making process. The Senate Energy Committee met Wednesday to examine the roles of the Public Service Board, regional planning commissions and municipalities regarding siting of renewable energy projects.
On Wednesday, more than 100 protesters gathered at the Statehouse to demand local control for energy siting. Leading the demonstration were state Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans; Karen Horn, policy director for the Vermont League of Cities and Towns; and Don Chioffi, a member of the Rutland Selectboard. Together they argued the energy project siting process as it stands now oversteps the will of ratepayers.
Joel Clark, vice chair of the Swanton Selectboard, told Vermont Watchdog the vote “certainly will send a message to the Legislature that there should be some local control.” He said Swanton’s zoning standards don’t allow for developments of that size, adding that the Public Service Board’s process for approving renewable energy is outdated.