“Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) appreciates the time, thoughtfulness, and transparency of the Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission. The Commission’s hard work has provided elements of valuable guidance for ways to improve the permitting process for future energy generation projects. Their recommendations for improving transparency, establishing clearer deadlines and online filing, and providing tiered permitting, will benefit all Vermont stakeholders. These recommendations will make for a better process for successful in-state renewable energy projects.
“REV continues to have significant concern with some of the recommendations, which threaten to take Vermont’s energy progress backwards. There is a balance that can be achieved in providing for local input without upending statewide energy permitting and the interest of the public good. While there is a strong potential role for regional planning commissions (RPCs) in recommending regional approaches to meeting Vermont’s energy challenges and goals, it should be recognized that RPCs, even by their own account, neither have the staffing resources nor the expertise to be energy siting experts. They should not be put in this role. An over-reliant approach on these unelected bodies threatens Vermont’s ability to meet its future energy challenges and continue to grow its clean energy economy.
“In addition, while REV supports a clear tiered permitting structure based on the size of future energy projects, we have concern that all projects larger than 500kW will become more complicated, unnecessarily increasing project costs and making Vermont’s transition to an efficient, renewable energy future all the more challenging. We are confident there are methods of finding a middle ground for these mid-sized projects and look forward to providing further recommendations to effectively do so.
“The work of the Commission provides a strong foundation for continuing to evolve and develop an energy permitting process that helps meet the state’s energy goal of 90% renewables by 2050 and builds upon our vibrant clean energy economy, which has seen broad public support in poll after poll after poll.”