ANR wants more time to review solar developer's farming request

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BENNINGTON >> Another government entity wants more time to respond to a developer's request to farm land where it wants to build two controversial solar projects.

The Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) seeks more time to respond to a request by a subsidiary of Allco Renewable Limited. The company wants to clear land where it also wants to build the Apple Hill and Chelsea solar projects, for "horticulture crops."

The motion was filed on Friday, days after similar requests were filed on behalf of the town of Bennington and the Department of Public Service.

The motion raises concern that altering the site of a pending petition runs against the Public Service Board (PSB) rule on site visits.

And similar activities are pending in at least three other proceedings of Section 248, which requires companies receive PSB approval before starting site preparation or construction of power plants, according to the motion.

ANR "is extremely concerned that this approach (whether intentional or not) risks becoming a trend which could undermine of the effectiveness, and integrity, of the Section 248 process," Donald J. Einhorn, an attorney for ANR, wrote in the motion.

Apple Hill Solar and Chelsea Solar LLC both proposed 2 megawatt solar arrays on a 27.3 acre parcel near the Apple Hill Neighbourhood and Route 279 interchange. Both entities are connected to Allco Renewable Limited, a New York City energy development company. The Public Service Board denied Chelsea Solar a certificate of public good in February; the Apple Hill Solar project is pending.

Otter Creek Solar LLC, which also is connected to Allco, has not yet filed a permit for Battle Creek Solar, a 4.99 mW solar array on 41 acres behind Home Depot.

Property and Land Holding (PLH) LLC, a real estate acquisition arm of Allco, filed a motion to intervene for Chelsea on Sept. 16. Thomas Melone, CEO for Allco, wrote in the motion that PLH owns the property where the solar panels would be built and an adjacent 5-acre orchard.

ANR's motion requests to extend the deadline from Oct. 4 to Oct. 28.

It cites documents filed with the PSB that show Allco's three solar projects and PLH share an address on Wall Street in New York City. Prefiled testimony states Otter Creek Solar and PLH "are sister companies under common ownership."

The full extent of the relationships between PLH, Apple Hill Solar and Chelsea Solar is unclear at the moment, Einhorn wrote.

"If they are also sister companies under common ownership...then it begs the question as to whether the activities proposed would in actuality be those of petitioners themselves," he continued, adding that would be prohibited under Section 248.

Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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