The Charlotte News: Public Service Board Will Decide on Charlotte Solar Proposal

Aug 10, 2012 No Comments by

Reposted from The Charlotte News.


The Public Service Board (PSB)is poised to make a decision on a Certificate of Public Good for Charlotte Solar LLC’s proposed 2.2-megawatt solar array on Hinesburg Road in East Charlotte. The entity has received approval in the SPEED (Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development) program to produce electricity at a guaranteed rate of $0.24 per kilowatt-hour for a period of 25 years. (Current Green Mountain Power retail rates per kilowatt-hour are $0.14728.) The panels would cover more than 13 acres (the size of 13 football fields) on an agricultural meadow owned by the Testamentary Trust of Clark Hinsdale Jr. For comparison, the solar project proposed for Thompson’s Point would have covered about one acre of land.

The Town of Charlotte is no longer participating in the process, having reached a stipulation agreement with Charlotte Solar. The three remaining parties, Charlotte Solar, Department of Public Service, and the Neighbors, a group of Charlotte families opposing the project, have filed briefs and reply briefs to the PSB.

Three landscape architects, David Raphael hired by the Town of Charlotte, Jean Vissering, expert witness for the Department of Public Service, and Michael Lawrence, landscape architect for the Neighbors, agreed in testimony that the array would create an “undue adverse aesthetic impact,” a standard commonly used by the Public Service Board. Charlotte Solar disagrees, claiming that the array would not offend the average person.

Neighbor Steve Colvin, who would share a 47-acre meadow with the 13-acre solar array, is participating in the Neighbors’ opposition.

“My wife and I originally became involved because of our proximity to this project. However, the longer this process has gone on, the more I see that there are much larger issues at play: What do we want Vermont to look like for future generations? What is the cost benefit ratio when we sacrifice a mountaintop, meadow or neighborhood like ours in favor of energy that will be used anywhere the grid takes it? Where is the ‘public good’ when hard-working Vermonters lose substantial property value and quality of life while an out-of-state developer makes lots of money – cashing in on federal subsidies and tax incentives? What about sustaining the landscape our town and state have worked so hard to preserve?”

“I hope there will be a conversation about appropriate placement of renewables in the upcoming election,” Colvin continues. “Technology has outpaced our planning tools. There should be some limits before Vermont’s beautiful landscape is spoiled forever.”


Elizabeth Bassett is a participant in the neighbor’s lawsuit.

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