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Opinion: Solar issues deserve thoughtful, responsible debate

A recent letter to the editor, “Opposition must consider the facts,” was another quasi ad hominem attack on another citizen by a person wedded to the solar industry. It was a biased piece by Dylan Zwicky, a community organizer from nonprofit VPIRG, whose profit-making spawn, SunCommon, is the scourge of the solar energy industry in Vermont. Mr. Zwicky’s snarky comments about “Mr. Stone” referring to Act 248 instead of Section 248 does not make Mr. Stone a fool nor invalidate Mr. Stone’s concerns any more than Mr. Zwicky’s awareness of the difference lends credence to his argument.
Mr. Zwicky has his facts all wrong regarding the actions of the PSB. Let him produce the filings for the solar projects that were opposed by towns or citizens and were denied CPGs from the Public Service Board. In 2014, there was strong opposition to two projects in Orwell, four in New Haven, and one each in Westminster, Sudbury, Rutland Town, Ferrisburgh, and Shelburne. In all 11 cases, the PSB considered all required criteria, and then nitpicked the towns’ plans and overruled the objections and approved all the projects.
No less of an authority than Tony Klein, chair of the Vermont House Natural Resources & Energy Committee, as well the chair of the Vermont Joint House & Senate Energy Oversight Committee, has stated that the people responsible for reviewing CPG applications for solar projects at the PSB need to be more sensitive to the needs and wishes of local communities. The actions of the PSB, which frequently appear as arbitrary and authoritarian, are retarding the growth of renewable energy sources in the state due to citizens’ growing anger and dissatisfaction with the PSB rulings.
It has become tiring to be lectured and preached to by an ideologue whose fervor for solar energy borders on religious and is condescending of other opinions. Mr. Zwicky seems to see the issue of renewable energy rollouts as binary; either one is for or against it. The reality is that most folks in Vermont are for increasing renewable energy resources and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. The problem we are facing is not the objective of increasing renewable energy but the implementation of problematic legislation.
The Addison Independent has carried a number of letters from citizens that offer intelligent approaches to increasing our sources of renewable energy. Unfortunately, Mr. Zwicky suggests nothing to improve the situation, but he’s proud to be a citizen of Addison County. So I ask, how many multi-user solar installations are there in the town where he lives?
Alex D. Tokewell
Middlebury

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