Opinion: Solar power projects should also face local review

The rapid influx of solar panels in Vermont is causing a blight on the landscape, mainly due to the fact that town planning has no input in the siting process. State law gives the Public Service Board, which has only three members, complete responsibility for determining the location of all energy projects; the board does not have to respect local planning. So the board lets the developer do the siting and apparently doesn’t care enough to think about how these solar panels are changing the character of Vermont.
Giving the Public Service Board complete power and taking away all local planning is a serious issue that must be changed by the next Legislature and the governor. Voters, ask all your candidates if they will support changing Act 48 to require the board to follow local planning. After all, Vermonters have put a great deal of thoughtful effort in their local plans and should be respected for what they do. There surely are many sites where Vermonters will support solar panels and solar power that are not right on top of homes and roads and views.
Let’s support development of solar power in a way that respects Vermont’s beauty and attractiveness to us and to travelers who may not come our way if we blanket Vermont with unsightly solar panels. After all, Vermont outlawed billboards decades ago; solar panels are just as bad.
Paul and Frances Stone

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