PROCTOR — The Planning Commission wants to know where in town would be good spots for solar arrays and where they’re less desirable.
Planning Commission Chairman Dick Horner said in an interview Wednesday that the commission will host an informational session on the proposed enhanced energy plan, Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Proctor Library.
He said the town, with the help of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, have identified several sites in town where a solar project would work.
The owners of these properties have been invited to the meeting to share their thoughts, said Horner.
Horner said the commission has been working on the enhanced energy plan for the past four months.
He hopes it will be complete and ready to present to the Select Board for approval by January. If the board approves it, it gets incorporated into the town plan.
Having an enhanced energy plan, he said, gives the town more say in Public Utility Commission proceedings.
The Public Utility Commission oversees renewable energy project permits in Vermont.
Its authority overrides municipal regulations. Laws passed by the Legislature in recent years have given municipalities more weight in PUC proceedings, but to have this they need to have adopted enhanced energy plans showing how they plan to meet the state’s renewable energy goals.
Horner said the plan’s list of preferred sites leaves it entirely up to landowners whether their property is used for an energy project or not.
Horner said that while Proctor isn’t exactly a hotbed for solar development, that’s the most likely type of renewable energy developers would be apt to pursue. He said there’s a hydro-electric dam in town owned by Green Mountain Power that likely goes a long way towards meeting the town’s renewable energy goals.
This plan, he said, would let the town better guide any future solar development should developers and landowners become interested.
“Nine property owners also were sent letters and invited to attend because the Planning Commission has identified parts of their land as potential preferred solar energy generation sites,” said Barbara Noyes Pulling, senior planner at the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, in an email. “It wants to hear from them before it decides on these potential preferred sites.”
She said the meeting is informational, separate from the public hearings required by law to be held before the plan can be adopted.
“Finding preferred renewable energy sites can be one of the more challenging parts of enhanced energy planning,” said Pulling. “The Proctor Planning Commission recognizes this and is making this as public of a process as possible.”