Opinion: Solar power projects are benefiting developers
Given the threat of global warming, it is critical that we prevent CO2 from entering the atmosphere. However, the current system of solar development harms our communities while enriching the developers who quietly push legislation through Montpelier with well-placed lobbyists and campaign donations.
This system is equally corrupt to Big Oil lobbying Capitol Hill, but is masked by an unassailable cloak of moral righteousness. Our unrealistic goal of 90 percent renewables by 2050 has transcended a century of land use policy in Vermont — the very reason many of us make this place home.
As summarized in a recent article, megawatt-scale solar projects are currently approved by the PSB without the input of local selectboards or regional planning commissions. Projects are able to avoid all state and local zoning regulations, and it is difficult and expensive to become a stakeholder. This process was designed to ensure stability of the electrical system, but is now used as a tool for the Shumlin administration and a Chittenden County-biased Legislature to impose its value system on defenseless rural communities.
There is little justification for holding shopping malls, gas stations and billboards to a different standard than solar installations. If they are really for the “public good,” then the public should be able to decide that.
Finally, if we deserve a voice in development of the “non-essential” pipeline then we deserve the same voice in development of “non-essential” solar installations. If you think Vermont Gas is bad, solar developers are worse.
Out-of-state bidders are winning most of the new contracts for solar development under the 2014 “standard offer” program. The money and jobs will flow out of state, the renewable energy credits will be sold to coal plants, and we will be left with less green space, reduced property values, and no net carbon reduction.
If you don’t believe this, read the VT Digger articles from May 19 and Sept. 15, or click the top link at: http://vermontspeed.com. The latest round of accepted proposals hail from: Boston, Mass. (Progress Partners and Triland Partners); Charlottesville, Va. (HelioSage); Belmont, Calif/ (Sun Edison); Irving, Texas (PLF, LLC). Look for their trucks in the field across from your house in the near future.
We are selling Vermont to the highest corporate bidders without protecting the rights of the people who live here. If this is inconsistent with your values as a Vermonter, please let your legislators know.
Will Bordeau, Middlebury
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