The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) will hold no public hearing on a proposal to install 15 solar trackers in the field north of American Flatbread in Waitsfield.
PSB clerk Susan Hudson said that the review process would be streamlined, per Vermont law, for solar projects that feed into the grid. She said that although the town filed comments on the project, the town did not request a public hearing and none would be held. She also said that in response to the town's comments, the board requested a response from the applicant.
The town's comments regarding the proposal noted that the installation
would be out of character for the area, would occupy currently open and
agricultural land and would be larger than any existing structure at the
Lareau Farm which hosts American Flatbread.
"Due to the size of the project and its inharmonious appearance in this particular location, it seems that the aesthetic impact could be materially reduced by appropriate sized trees and we request due consideration be given to such screening. Since there are hundreds of feet of open land between Route 100 which is on the eastern side of the project and the woods on the western side, there appears to be adequate space to locate a solar installation as well as appropriate screening," wrote Waitsfield Planning Commission chair Steve Shea in a letter to the PSB.
In response to the town's comments, William King from AllEarth Renewables (the company that will install the system) wrote:
"With regards to the comment that the size of the project is out of character and 'not harmonious' with the property and the installation occupies a significant portion of the open land. The project is sized to meet to the electricity needs of American Flatbread. The proposed installation will supply roughly 80 percent of the electricity needs for American Flatbread for the foreseeable future. In addition, American Flatbread intends to implement efficiency measures to reduce their electricity needs to equal the capacity of the solar trackers. Their goal is to have the solar trackers supply 100 percent of the electricity needed to operate the business. The installation is going to be sited and configured to minimize the footprint and to be visually and aesthetically appealing. The installation will require approximately less than one acre of a five-acre field and will be sited to the far north end of the field to reduce the visual impact going south on Route 100. The proposed site is the only location on the property that is suitable for an AllSun Tracker installation and is an unutilized field that is hayed less than twice per year."
There are two other Waitsfield solar applications currently before the PSB. One is from Bill Parker to install 26 solar trackers at Fiddler's Green and the other is to install six pole-mounted photovoltaic arrays on a two-acre lot at Chris and Leslie Badger's Long Road property.