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Solar panels adorn the rook of the Guilford fire station.

Town and Village

Three solar projects coming to town

GUILFORD—Three proposed solar projects in Guilford are in the public comment phase. The entities behind the projects recently sent letters to the Selectboard notifying the board of their plans, and offered to meet with town officials.

Bill Murray, representative to the Windham Regional Commission (WRC), attended the June 8 Selectboard meeting to report on his participation in the WRC’s Project Review meeting where the solar plans were discussed.

Murray provided a summary of the three projects, all located within a few miles of one another in Guilford’s Weatherhead Hollow area.

GLC Powersmith Solar, LLC, seeks approval to build and operate a 500-kilowatt photovoltaic group net-metering facility at 120 Tinker Hill Road.

Soveren, Inc. looks to build two solar sites: At 159 Kirchheimer Drive, off Guilford Center Road, a 500-kilowatt solar electric generation facility as part of the Vermont Community Solar Project, and a 150-kilowatt community solar system at 708 Guilford Center Rd.

The Selectboard discussed the necessity of reviewing the plans.

Chair Anne Rider said Guilford has no zoning laws, so the project planners don’t have to leap that hurdle.

Sheila Morse noted there is nothing in the Town Plan that addresses energy projects, but the town requests notification and a chance to comment when large projects, especially for housing and commercial developments, are planned for Guilford.

Dick Clark, noted the “Rutland Resolution,” calling for municipalities to have more involvement in the Vermont Public Service Board’s decision on granting Certificates of Public Good (CPG) to renewable energy projects.

Earlier this year, Rutland Town was frustrated by its lack of legal standing with the Public Service Board on a proposed solar site. The Selectboard sent a letter to every Vermont municipality, calling on boards to back a resolution, “to instruct their state representatives and senators to develop amendments to the statutes that concern the siting and approval of renewable energy projects and to the procedures of the PSB in order to ensure that Vermont municipalities have a more meaningful role in the CPG process and to require compliance with appropriately-developed municipal siting standards."

At the April 13 Selectboard meeting, the board discussed the “Rutland Resolution,” including referring it to the Energy Committee, but took no action.

In July, the projects will go before the PSB for approval. Rider said the board plans to discuss the projects and receive public comment at the June 22 regular Selectboard meeting. She said representatives from the projects will be invited to the meeting. The board can then comment to the Public Service Board on the projects’ applications for their CPG.

Murray told the Selectboard one of his primary motivations for bringing notice of the projects to the board is the possible tax ramifications of siting energy projects in town. He thought the town listers should be aware of the potential changes in assessed values, and fees collected, on the properties. He also wondered if the town could benefit by taxing the energy produced.

Dan Ingold of GLC Powersmith Solar told the Selectboard there is incentive for the town to hook up to a solar panel system already in place on the Guilford Fire Station’s roof.

Ingold said the Fire Department is already saving about $200 a month from using solar power, and other town departments could tie into the system. The board discussed possible grants to fund that project, and asked Ingold to contact the Guilford Fire Department Trustees to research the costs.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #310 (Wednesday, June 17, 2015). This story appeared on page C1.

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