Chelsea Hill developer's motions denied, possibly more litigation to come
BENNINGTON >> The Department of Public Service has denied a number of motions made by a solar developer whose project was turned down for a certificate of public good by the Public Service Board in February.
The 2-megawatt solar array proposed for 500 Apple Hill Road is backed by Chelsea Solar LLC, which wants to build it on a parcel east of Route 279, across from the Bennington Welcome Center. Chelsea Solar filed for a certificate of public good in June 2014 and garnered a great deal of local opposition.
The project abuts another proposed facility of similar size being proposed by Apple Hill Solar LLC. Both Chelsea and Apple Hill are subsidiaries of the same company, Allco Renewable Energy Limited.
According to an order issued by the Department of Public Service (DPS) on April 29, Chelsea Solar filed a number of motions in March regarding the project. The DPS denied them all, largely on procedural grounds.
In an email to the Banner on Tuesday, Thomas Melone, chief executive officer of Allco Renewable Energy Limited, said the board has the Chelsea Hill project confused with the Apple Hill project.
"...the DPS just does not want to address the substance, so it is trying to stop consideration of the issues based upon procedural grounds," wrote Melone. "But why? All that would accomplish is forcing us to restart the process all over again, which we will do if necessary."
He cites references made by DPS to the project's visibility from the Welcome Center, or as the DPS asserts "a hillside above the Welcome Center," but Melone says the evidence shows the project will not be visible from there.
"The project is not visible so why would it be denied if not for motivations or bias unrelated to the actual project?" Melone wrote.
He said plans have been submitted that would reduce the size of the project.
"We trust that the PSB will do the right thing and allow further proceedings regarding the newly submitted plans," he wrote. "To not do that will only delay the day that they would be required to do so, and in the interim there would be a lot of continued litigation in the courts."
The Chelsea and Apple Hill projects, because of their proximity, were originally ruled to be the same project for the purposes of qualifying for state subsidies, but an appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court got them ruled as being legally distinct.
— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.