Public Service Board Sinks Bennington Solar Project Over Town Plan Concerns

Feb 16, 2016

The Vermont Public Service Board denied a permit for a two megawatt solar development in Bennington Tuesday because of conflicts with local development priorities.

The Public Service Board’s decision said the project planned by Chelsea Solar was in violation of three out of four specific requirements in the Bennington Town Plan.

That decision comes after recent criticisms of the board from activists and local governments who claim the regulatory process is stacked against them.

The board’s ruling pushes against that notion, sometimes explicitly.

“Chelsea [Solar] argues that the Town Plan language is merely a ‘recommendation,’” the board’s ruling reads. “We disagree.”

The board goes on to cite a passage from the Bennington Town Plan, adding emphasis where the plan says “shall” and “must.” The board ultimately deferred to the local plan’s standards; the solar farm’s violation of those standards kept the board from issuing a Certificate of Public Good, which is required for utility developments in Vermont.