I am writing to identify what are widely seen as significant flaws with the Public Service Board process and to suggest specific improvements.
Some flaws in the process with the PSB include:
#1 The way the board is seated. The Public Service Board is a quasi-judicial board whose three members are nominated by the Judicial Nominating Board. The people who make up this board are directly appointed by the governor. After there is a nomination it goes to the Senate for confirmation. My problem with this system is it’s very one sided. It allows the governor too much power to indirectly put in place appointments of his choosing.
#2 The public has little or no input in the process of granting certificates of public good. The state doesn’t benefit from the on-the-ground knowledge of Vermonters that are directly affected by these decisions.
#3 The difficulty in filing grievances. If you don’t have a lawyer, you are in over your head. Just the legal language itself is impossible to understand. Please simplify the process so ordinary Vermonters (people) don’t feel shut out.
#4 Grievances aren’t responded to in a timely manner (if at all). This gives the offender time to complete whatever they were doing. Too many Vermonters have already been adversely impacted. It is time to address this and provide a process for compensation as well as mediation.
The intention of the Public Service Board is to be a mediator between public concerns and utility companies. Also they grant certificates of public good to these utilities to move forward on energy projects. With our states’ goal of having 90 percent of our energy coming from renewable energy by 2050, there is a huge push to get these projects moving as soon as possible.
The main issue in my opinion is siting. In the haste of getting these projects on line,we have disregarded our tradition of being good stewards of our land. Rather than take a pause and see if what has been done so far is working for all Vermonters, we keep pushing on. Wouldn’t it make more sense to evaluate our accomplishments to date,and make corrections accordingly?
Finally, there should be some type of public advocate set up with a fund paid for by all of the developers. This would help ensure a fair and thorough hearing for both the developer and the public. With only three people making such major decisions on behalf of the public, there should definitely be more input by local communities also. I would like the PSB to be a nonpartisan entity that listens to needs of all Vermonters, rather than extension of the executive branch.
Finally, there should be some type of public advocate board set up with a fund paid for by all of the developers. This would help ensure a fair and thorough hearing for both the developer and the public. With only three people making such major decisions on behalf of the public, there should definitely be more input by local communities.
— Steve Woodward
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