MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Supreme Court on Friday upheld a permit for Green Mountain Power's management of stormwater runoff from its Kingdom Community Wind generating project in Lowell.
Critics of the 21-turbine wind power project had appealed a Public Service Board decision to accept the permit's approval by the Agency of Natural Resources. They argued that the agency had failed to follow its own rules in granting the permit.
But the high court said the Public Service Board acted appropriately in giving "substantial deference" to the agency with the technical expertise on handling stormwater runoff.
The court said the crux of the case turned on Green Mountain's use of so-called level spreaders to release stormwater in "a non-erosive manner" across a slope.
Energize Vermont, which has been critical of the project since its inception, argued that the technology doesn't comply with the Vermont Stormwater Management Manual that the group says Green Mountain Power is required to use.
Mark Whitworth, executive director of Energize Vermont, said granting such broad deference to a permit-writing agency was a bad idea.
With the decision, "ANR can wield this newfound power, which will impact all types of future development in the state of Vermont. ANR can now pick and choose which rules apply," he said.
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