Sunday, October 7, 2012

Charlotte Solar Project Awaits A Decision

An application by Charlotte Sola,r LLC is awaiting a decision by the Vermont Public Service Board on whether its East Charlotte project would receive a Certificate of Public Good from the board.

It still must wait for a final order, but PSB hearing officer Jake Marren issued a Proposal for Decision last week that, unless the board alters the recommendations, could allow the project to move forward if it is reduced in size by 10 percent.

Charlotte Solar proposed to build ground-mounted solar arrays on a meadow north of Hinesburg Road and west of Spear Street.

The company estimates that the net energy output would be 2,850,000 kilowatt-hours per year or about the electric consumption of 315 homes.

The project would occupy a fenced area of 15 acres, with 12.6 acres of solar arrays. The site is a portion of a 46.2-acre tract owned by the Testamentary Trust of Clark Hinsdale, Jr., with Clark Hinsdale III as trustee. Hinsdale III is an owner of Nordic Holsteins, LLC and other Charlotte properties.

Charlotte Solar, LLC is a firm established by American Capital Energy, Inc., a Massachusetts-based solar engineering, procurement and construction contractor and solar developer.

Marren’s Proposal for Decision recommends issuance of a Certificate of Public Good based on several conditions. Charlotte Solar would be required to reduce the footprint of the solar array by 10 percent, increasing the amount of open meadow on the south side of the site.

After construction is completed, a site visit would be held to enable parties to the proceedings to determine the effectiveness of landscaping, black fencing and other aesthetic mitigation features added by the firm.

In April, Marren led a board hearing in Charlotte at which 18 people spoke in opposition to the project.

A group of residents, called “Neighbors” for purposes of party status, has also opposed it. The group asked the board to consider general public good, economic benefit, public health, safety, noise and conformity with the town plan and zoning regulations.

Other parties giving testimony and rebuttals included the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Department of Public Service, landscape architects, the town of Charlotte and representatives of Charlotte Solar.

The proposed decision states that the project would result in economic benefit to the state; that it would not have an undue adverse effect on aesthetics, the natural environment, public health and safety nor on air and water purity; and that it does not violate any clearly written community standard.

Details of the background testimony, findings and conclusions are contained in the 42-page Proposal for Decision, which the town of Charlotte received on Thursday.

Charlotte Selectboard chairman Charles Russell said the town board would discuss at tonight’s meeting whether to submit comments to the Public Service Board.


No comments: