Workshop to offer hints on siting solar projects

MIDDLEBURY — This Thursday the Addison County Regional Planning Commission’s Energy Committee will host a workshop to discuss best practices for siting solar power facilities.
The Oct. 30 gathering will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the planning commission’s 14 Seminary St. office in Middlebury.
As the state of Vermont has embraced renewable power, commercial-scale solar arrays designed to produce between 150 kilowatts and 5 megawatts are increasingly becoming a part of Vermont’s rural landscape. Addison County has seen a significant increase in solar development. Its existing open agricultural fields, proximity to three-phase power and location between two major population centers (Chittenden and Rutland counties) all make it a desirable place for solar development.
This workshop will focus on practices Addison’s municipalities and citizens can employ to participate in the process and help guide solar development to places where it can fulfill its economic and social mission, but also incorporate sensitivity to Vermont’s rural aesthetic and the interests of municipalities, neighbors and the tourism economy.
Speakers at the workshop will include Johanna Miller and Billy Costner. Miller is the energy program director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the administrator of the Vermont Energy Climate Action Network, an advocate for environmentally sensitive solar development, who will discuss solar best practices. Costner, who is with the Agency of Natural Resources office of planning and legal affairs, will share some of the siting guidance that the agency is creating to help preserve aesthetics and natural resources.
The planning commission also expects to have a representative of one of the many developers currently working within the region.
All speakers will be available to answer specific questions from all audience members during and after the presentation.
This workshop will provide practical information about how to create or participate in a project to ensure that the project incorporates the best interests of applicants, municipalities and citizens.
Town energy committees, planning commission members, selectboard members and members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend. For more information contact Adam Lougee at 388-3141/[email protected], or Jeremy Grip at 388-0863/[email protected].

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