Southern Vermont Energy Park Information

What is the Permitting Process for the Proposed Biomass Facility?

The key permit required to construct an in-state electricity generating facility is a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB). In the case of the Beaver Wood Energy proposal, the process for receiving a decision on the Certificate of Public Good will be Section 248 (“Section 248” refers to the number of the state statute governing this process).

Section 248 incorporates issues of connection to the electric grid, site-related environmental criteria, and other factors such as aesthetics and demonstrated need for the new generation. A Citizen’s Guide to Section 248 is posted on the PSB’s website.

Other state government agencies involved with the Section 248 process are the Department of Public Service, which represents the interest of the Vermont consumer, and the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), which represents concerns for environmental impacts such as water use and air pollution. These two entities will automatically participate in the hearings on the Beaver Wood Energy proposal. Part of the requirements for a Certificate of Public Good is that Beaver Wood comply with ANR's protection of natural resources. Beaver Wood has applied for four permits from ANR's Department of Environmental Conservation - more information on these permits is linked here.

It is important to note that local and regional planning and municipal permits do not directly shape the outcome of the PSB’s ruling. A final order from the PSB takes precedence over decisions by the government of a single town. However, these local factors are taken into consideration during deliberations.

Another important aspect of Section 248 is that the PSB acts as a quasi-judicial body, meaning that they handle the permitting process in a way similar to how a judge would conduct a court case. A proposal under consideration is called a Docket and the final decision is an Order. The Public Service Board website provides examples of past Dockets to illustrate how the process works. This quasi-judicial aspect will affect how citizens participate – whether it’s as an official party to the case or an unofficial interested party.