Biomass plant rejection case taken to Vermont Supreme Court

A stalled attempt to revive a biomass project in Vermont has seen the developer take his case to the state’s Supreme Court.

In 2010 a bid was launched to build a wood-chip burning power plant close to the border between Connecticut and New York. The project had to be put on hold in 2014 following the withdrawal of one of its major financers.

Ted Verrill, owner of Pequot Energy in Connecticut, said the biomass plant seemed viable again in 2015 when Vermont’s Department of Public Service changed one of the rules concerning power-purchase agreements for such projects.

Verrill told the Rutland Herald: “It provided for long-term contracts, which is what’s required for a biomass facility. For a long-life project like biomass, a 30-year contract would be preferable because it’s easier to finance over a long period of time. … I saw this particular ruling and said ‘why not?’”

After Verrill had started the process, the state modified the law once again, reducing the maximum length of contracts down to seven years. According to Verrill, this reduction removes the project’s eligibility for several key federal benefits, making it no longer economically viable.

In February 2017, the Vermont Public Services Board (PSB) refused to allow an exemption for Pequot Energy to continue the project. Pequot applied on the basis that their project met regulations before the recent change. The PSB said that the purchase agreement application wouldn’t have met other conditions of the earlier regulations.

Verrill has now filed notice he is appealing the PSB’s rejection of the power purchase agreement at Vermont’s Supreme Court.

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