By RUSSELL JONES
Davenport Solar LLC has reached an agreement with the landowners adjacent to their proposed new solar site and also with the state. The agreement clears the way for a certificate of public good that could soon be issued by the Public Utility Commission.
Debbie and Bruce Howard, of Old Brandon Road, filed a motion to be made an intervener in the company’s 15-megawatt project in January because of the aesthetic and historical impact the solar panels would have on their historic farmhouse.
That legal action put a temporary halt to the project. However, a memorandum of understanding was filed with the PUC on June 13 that states the company will plant 42 trees between the farmhouse and the solar panels. The trees will be a mix of white spruce and white pine between six and eight feet tall and spaced 15 feet apart.
The company also agreed to pay the Howards $3,750 within seven days of the memo’s execution and an additional $3,750 after the project’s completion. Once the memo has been executed, the Howards will withdraw their status as interveners.
The company also filed a stipulation it signed with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets that will determine what happens to the dirt that will be turned to place the solar panels.
According to the stipulation, close to 80 percent of the 65.5 acres that the project will be built upon is used to harvest hay, and 66 percent of the 172-acre area will rest on prime agricultural soil.
Davenport Solar will keep all the soil on-site and protected, according to state standards. Tree stumps can be removed if they interfere with access roads, but only after the soil has been shaken off of them. Large logs from site may be removed, but all other wood must remain and vehicles used on-site must not have an axle load of more than 12,000 pounds.
On Thursday, June 27, the PUC issued an extension to the deadline that allows non-petitioners to file direct testimony. The extension was requested by Davenport so the company could finalize on-going settlement discussions with other landowners. There will be an updated schedule for the project no later than Aug. 2.