The court upheld a ruling by the state Public Service Board that gave the 2.3-megawatt Rutland Renewable Energy project a green light. In doing so, it rehashed arguments heard at the Legislature over who should have greater say – the state or local communities – when developers come to a town looking to build solar and wind-power projects.
The town spent a year developing local solar siting standards, only to see them rejected by the PSB as carrying sufficient weight in its consideration of the project at hand.
Town officials then authored a resolution, demanding greater local say over the projects. More than 150 of Vermont’s 251 municipalities signed on.
The town and neighbors objected that the Rutland Renewable Energy project would have undue aesthetic and historic impacts and would use prime agricultural land. They also sought to use an addendum to the town plan to slow the project or scale it back.
But the court majority upheld the PSB findings that the opponents’ concerns did not outweigh the greater good of the state. It said it generally grants great deference to decisions by the board, which has expertise in energy issues.
As much as we want alternative and renewable power options we need to continue to develop locally. Local food, local communities, local power… these people participated and still were smacked down. Not a good approach.