Vermont Certificate of Public Good (7-VT-c)
The Board will conduct a CPG review pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 248 et seq. The Board must find that the project promotes the general good of the state in order to grant a CPG. 30 V.S.A. § 248 et seq.
Certificate of Public Good Process
7-VT-c.1 to 7-VT-c.2 — Will the Project Require a FERC License or Exemption?
The developer may not need to obtain a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Vermont Public Service Board (Board) if the project requires a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license or exemption. Draft Guide to Filing a Petition under Section 248, at 1. Contact the Vermont Department of Public Service (Department) to determine if the project requires a CPG. FERC licensed or exempted hydroelectric facilities may still need a CPG for a transmission line extension project, interconnected group net-metered hydroelectric power systems, and project’s that sell retail electricity within Vermont.
7-VT-c.3 to 7-VT-c.4 — Does the Project Require an Amendment to an Existing Certificate of Public Good?
The developer should contact the Planning and Energy Resources Division of the Vermont Department of Public Service for details on how to amend a previously issued CPG for an existing hydroelectric project. For example, certain qualified facilities with Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) contracts that are set to expire may petition to amend a current CPG to reflect a net-metered system.
7-VT-c.5 — Is the Project Net-Metered?
7-VT-c.6 to 7-VT-c.7 — Submit Notice Letter to Affected Municipality and Regional Planning Commission
The developer must submit the proposed project plans, 45 days prior to filing a petition for a CPG, notifying the affected municipal and regional planning commissions and municipal legislative bodies of the developer’s intent to submit a CPG petition to the Board. 30 V.S.A. § 248(f); CVR 30-000-056 § 5.402 (A). However, if the proposed project consists solely of the relocation of transmission facilities, the developer may submit the notice letter at least 21 days prior to filing a petition for a CPG. CVR 30-000-056 § 5.402 (A); 30 V.S.A. § 248(g). The project plans must include plans for construction of the project in sufficient detail to understand the overall proposed project, including but not limited to:
- Identification and analysis of aesthetic impact;
- Project plans, in as much detail as the developer can reasonably provide (including schematic and diagram depicting proposed structures);
- A description of how equipment and materials will be transported to the site; and
- Plans which indicate the approximate location of all proposed new infrastructure (e.g., transmission, roads, etc.) relative to the existing conditions.
For proposed transmission projects, the developer must also include an evaluation of alternatives to the proposed project and the reasons why those alternatives were rejected. CVR 30-000-056 § 5.402 (A)(4).
The notice must also include:
- A reference to the Board’s Citizen’s Guide to the Vermont Public Service Board’s Section 248 Process available on the Board’s website;
- Information regarding the municipal and regional planning commissions requirement to make recommendations, if any, to the Board and to the developer at least seven (7) days prior to the CPG petition filing with the Board, pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 248(f); and
- Information regarding the opportunity for the commissions to provide revised recommendations pursuant to CVR 30-000-056 § 5.402 (A)(4)(1)(b).
The municipal and regional planning commissions and the municipal legislative bodies may waive the 45-day notice requirement. 30 V.S.A. § 248(f).
Municipal and regional planning commissions affected by the proposed project must make recommendations, if any, to the Board and to the developer at least seven (7) days prior to the CPG petition filing with the Board. 30 V.S.A. § 248(f).
7-VT-c.8 — Hold Public Hearing (if applicable)
The municipal or regional planning commission may hold a public hearing on the proposed project. 30 V.S.A. § 248(f).
7-VT-c.9 — CPG Petition Application Material and Fee
The developer must submit a complete CPG petition, applicable application materials and fee to the Board at the close of the 45-day filing notice. The application materials must, at minimum, include:
- A Cover Letter that:
- briefly describes the proposed project;
- whether the review under 30 V.S.A. § 248 or 30 V.S.A § 248(j) is requested; and
- includes the contact information (including address, phone number, and e-mail address) for the petitioner (developer) or representative.
- Notice of Appearance that includes:
- the relevant contact information for the person filing the petition (developer). Those persons listed in the notice of appearance are the only persons that may make formal filings with the Board in that Docket. Petitions do not need to be filed by an attorney; however, the Board, based upon state legal requirements, has limits on who may appear pro se. For example, a partnership may be presented by a partner, and a corporation, cooperative, or association may be represented by an officer thereof or by an employee designated in writing by an officer thereof. See CVR 30-000-001 § 2.201(B).
- Certificate of Service which lists all entities to whom the correspondence was sent and a statement that the correspondence has been sent to those entities (the filing itself);
- Pre-filed Written Testimony from a qualified witness or witnesses and exhibits. The need for specialized, expert testimony depends on the complexity of the proposed project and the nature and scope of the project’s impacts. For example, if the proposed project will impact a wetland, an environmental expert may be required to address that impact. The pre-filed testimony and accompanying exhibits must include:
- a description of the project and address the substantive criteria of Section 248(b). If the information requested is not applicable, the petitioner (developer) must include an explanation of why it is not applicable. Developers must address all of the criteria contained in 10 V.S.A. § 248(b).
- the project description should provide a detailed description of the proposed project, in accordance with Draft Guide to Filing a Petition under Section 248, at 7-8.
The petition must also include:
- U.S. Geological Survey topographic map showing the location of the proposed project;
- An aerial photograph of the proposed project site that clearly marks existing structures and significant natural and manmade features when available, or an equivalent computer-generated image that provides similar detail;
- A site plan that includes:
- proposed improvements;
- existing topography at the site and proposed changes in grading;
- existing significant natural and man-made features (including but not limited to water bodies, wetlands, tree lines, buildings, and roads);
- a cross-section of the site;
- color photographs of the project site; and
- proposed measures to mitigate impacts of the proposed project.
- An index, organized according to the criteria of 10 V.S.A. § 248(b), that identifies with specificity the prefilled evidence that addresses each criterion, including the incorporated criteria of Section 248(b)(5). This requirement is not necessary for projects petitioning for a Section 248(j) CPG. CVR 30-000-056 § 402(F)(2).
In addition, the developer must also submit a complete Certificate of Public Good Application Fee Form with the applicable fee by check to the Board as part of the application. Certificate of Public Good Application Fee Form.
7-VT-c.10 — Provide Notice to Interested Parties
The developer must submit copies of the application materials, at the time of filing the application with the Board, to the Attorney General and the Department of Public Service, and if applicable the Department of Health, Agency of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division, Agency of Transportation, Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the chairperson or director of the municipal and regional planning commissions and the municipal legislative body for each town and city in which the proposed project will be located.30 V.S.A. § 248(a)(4)(A).
The developer must also notify the Byways Advisory Council of the application filing. 30 V.S.A. § 248(a)(4)(A).
In addition, pursuant to CVR 30-000-056 § 5.402 (B), the petitioner (developer) must provide notice of the proposed project to each adjoining property owner at the time that the petition is filed with the Board. An adjoining landowner is defined by CVR 30-000-056 § 5.402(B)(2)(a)-(b).
This notice must include, at a minimum:
- A reference to the Board's Guide to the Vermont Public Service Board's Section 248 Process available on the Board's website;
- A general description of the type and approximate location of the proposed project; and
- A statement that a petition for approval is being filed with the Board; and an identification of the locations at which the project plans and the petition can be viewed, and the hours during which those documents may be viewed.
7-VT-c.11 to 7-VT-c.12 — Review Application Materials for Completeness
Once a petition is received, the Board staff will review the petition for completeness. Draft Guide to Filing a Petition under Section 248, at 3; Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 4.
The Board must notify the developer after making a completeness determination. If the application is not complete, the Board must include a statement of the deficiencies in the notice. CVR 30-000-056 § 5.402 (C)(4).
7-VT-c.13 — Assign Docket Number
Once the petition is considered complete, the Board Clerk assigns a docket number to the petition. Draft Guide to Filing a Petition under Section 248, at 3; Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 4.
The Board then notifies the developer, the Department of Public Service and the Agency of Natural Resources (statutory parties). Draft Guide to Filing a Petition under Section 248, at 3; Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 4.
7-VT-c.14 — Is the Proposed Project Limited in Size and Scope?
The developer may be eligible for an expedited CPG review process if the project is of limited size and scope. 30 V.S.A. §248(j). If the Board finds that the project is of limited size and scope, does not raise a significant issue according to the requisite criteria, and the public interest is satisfied by the Section 248(j) procedures, the Board may issue a Final Order making a CPG determination without holding public or evidentiary hearings. The Board makes this determination on a case-by-case basis. 30 V.S.A. §248(j). If the proposed project is limited in size and scope go to 7-VT-c.22.
7-VT-c.15 to 7-VT-c.17 — Notify Statutory Parties of Pre-Hearing Conference
The Board must notify the statutory parties of the required pre-hearing conference, twelve (12) days before the conference. At the conference the Board and the statutory parties set the docket schedule, identify major issues, and determine how the docket will be managed. The docket schedule provides dates for a public hearing, site visit, a deadline for motions to intervene, discovery, the filing of pre-filed testimony by other parties (if any), as well as the dates for technical hearings and briefing. Depending on the workload of other parties and the potential impacts associated with the proposed project, a fully litigated schedule can take more than six (6) months. Draft Guide to Filing a Petition under Section 248, at 3; Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 4; CVR 30-000-01 § 2.212.
Following the preconference, the Board must issue a Pre-hearing Conference Memorandum (Memorandum). The Memorandum addresses the issues presented and discussed at the pre- hearing conference and a service list. A service list is a list of all parties and interested persons. Draft Guide to Filing a Petition under Section 248, at 3; Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 4.
7-VT-c.18 — Conduct Site Visit (if applicable)
The Board may conduct one or more site visits to view the location of the proposed project. The site visit will typically include a discussion of the following matters:
- A description of the proposed project and its location(s);
- A viewing of the existing conditions at the location(s) of the proposed project; and
- An explanation of how the existing conditions would be altered by the proposed project.
The site visit may also include:
- Identification of relevant landscape features;
- Discussion of how such landscape features have affected or potentially should affect the project design and location;
- Identification of and visits to potential alternative locations for the proposed project; and
- Any other relevant matters for which a first-hand viewing of the site(s) may assist in understanding the issues before the Board.
Observations and facts from the site visit are not considered as evidence unless the Board, on its own motion or on the request of a party, specifically enters them into the evidentiary record. CVR 30-000-056 § 5.405; Draft Guide to Filing a Petition under Section 248, at 3; Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 5.
7-VT-c.19 to 7-VT-c.20 — Publish Notice of Public Hearing
The Board must hold a nontechnical public hearing on each petition in at least one county in which any portion of the proposed project will be located. 30 V.S.A. § 248(a)(4)(A).
The Board must publish notice of the hearing on the Board’s website for at least twelve (12) days before the day appointed for the hearing. The Board must also publish notice of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties in which the proposed project will be located. The notice must include an Internet address where more information regarding the proposed project may be viewed. 30 V.S.A. § 248(a)(4)(D).
The Board may ask the developer (petitioner) to provide a brief description of the proposed project at the beginning of the public hearing in order for those attending to become more familiar with the proposed project. Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 5.
7-VT-c.21 — Comment on Application
Any interested person may provide written and/or oral comment on the proposed project during the public hearing. Oral comments are transcribed by a court reporter for later reference and become part of the docket’s public file. While these comments do not become part of the evidentiary record, public comments play an important role by raising new issues or offering perspectives that the Board should consider and ask parties to present evidence on. Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 5.
In addition the public may submit written comments to the Board electronically or by regular mail. These comments are treated the same way as public comments made during the public hearing. Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 5.
7-VT-c.22 — Initiate Discovery
The developer and other interested parties may ask about pre-filed testimony and exhibits provided. The parties may either conduct discovery in written (interrogatories) or oral (depositions) form. The provisions of Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure apply. CVR 30-000-01 § 2.214.
7-VT-c.23 — Hold Technical Hearing
The Board must hold a technical (evidentiary) hearing regarding the proposed project in accordance with the date decided at the pre-hearing conference. 30 V.S.A. § 248(a)(4)(B). At the hearing, parties are expected to submit proposed findings of fact under each of the Section 248 criteria (30 V.S.A. § 248(b)(1)-(11)) together with a legal brief relating to any issues of law raised by the filing. 30 V.S.A. § 248(a)(4)(B).
7-VT-c.24 to 7-VT-c.26 — Is the Docket Heard by a Hearing Officer?
If the case is heard by a Hearing Officer and not the full Board, the Hearing Officer recommends a proposal for decision to the Board. Parties have an opportunity to submit comments and request oral argument on the proposal for decision. The proposal for decision and any comments on it are submitted to the members of the Board for review and issuance of a final order. Citizen’s Guide to Section 248, at 5. If the case is heard by the full Board go to 7-VT-c. 41.
7-VT-c.27 to 7-VT-c.28 — Is the Net-Metered Project 150 kW or Less?; CPG Application for Net-metered Systems up to 150kW
The developer must file a complete Application for a Certificate of Public Good for Net Metered Power Systems that are Non-Photovoltaic Systems Up to 150 kW (AC) in Capacity for interconnected group net-metered hydroelectric power projects that are 150 kW or less. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110 (B). If the net-metered project is greater than 150 kW go to 7-VT-c.33.
7-VT-c.29 to 7-VT-c.30 — Review Application Materials for Completeness
The Board will review the Application for a Certificate of Public Good for Net Metered Power Systems that are Non-Photovoltaic Systems Up to 150 kW (AC) in Capacity for interconnected group net-metered hydroelectric power projects that are 150 kW or less for completeness. A complete application must include, at minimum, the following:
- The net metering customer/property owner’s (developer) name, address, and contact information;
- A description of the type of net metering system;
- The physical location of the project, including the location in relation to adjoining properties and a specific statement about the visibility of the project from adjoining properties, and if it is highly visible, what measures were taken, if any, to minimize the visible impact;
- A description of whether the project will be sited on, near, or within a floodway, shoreline, stream, wetland, historic site or district, rare and irreplaceable natural area, necessary wildlife habitat, area where endangered species are present;
- Description of the visible and aesthetic impact of the project and why it will not have an undue adverse effect on aesthetics and the scenic and natural beauty of the area;
- Copies of all necessary federal and state approvals for the project; and
- A list of the parties notified.
The developer must submit application materials, by mail, to the Board, the applicable utility, local planning commission, the municipal legislative body of the town in which the system is to be installed, the Planning Division, Agency of Natural Resources, and adjoining landowners. Application for a Certificate of Public Good for Net Metered Power Systems that are Non-Photovoltaic Systems Up to 150 kW (AC) in Capacity at 6; CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110 (B)(2).
7-VT-c.31 — Submit Comments and/or Request a Hearing (if applicable)
Any interested party must submit comments to the Board concerning the application filed, or request a technical evidentiary hearing within thirty (30) days of the date that the application was sent to the Board and all required parties. Any interested party must request a hearing within the written comments submitted to the Board. Requests for a hearing must make a showing that the application raises a significant issue regarding one or more of the substantive criteria pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 248. Application for a Certificate of Public Good for Net Metered Power Systems that are Non-Photovoltaic Systems Up to 150 kW (AC) in Capacity at 1; CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110 (B)(3).
7-VT-c.32 — Hold Technical Hearing (if applicable)
The Board may determine to hear evidence on the issue if it concludes that the project raises a significant issue with respect to one or more of those substantive criteria. Application for a Certificate of Public Good for Net Metered Power Systems that are Non-Photovoltaic Systems Up to 150 kW (AC) in Capacity at 1; CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110 (B)(3). The Board only needs to issue findings and conclusions on the criteria concerning which it determined to hold a hearing. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110 (B)(3).
7-VT-c.33 — Provide Notice of Section 219a Application
The developer must provide written notice, at least 45 days in advance of filing a Section 219 application required for interconnected group net-metered hydroelectric power projects that are greater than 150 kW, to the following entities:
- Legislative bodies and municipal and regional planning commissions in the communities where the project will be located;
- The Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources;
- The Commissioner of the Department of Public Service and its Director for Public Advocacy’
- The landowners of record of property adjoining the project sites;
- The Public Service Board; and
- The serving electric company.
The notice must:
- State that the developer intends to submit a 219a Application;
- Identify the location of the facility site(s); and
- Provide a description of the proposed project(s).
In addition, the notice must contain sufficient detail about the proposed project(s) so that the receiving parties understand the impact of the project(s). The notice must also provide contact information and a description of how the recipients may file inquiries or comments with the applicant regarding the project. Further the notice must explain that the recipients also have the opportunity to file comments with the Board once the application is filed. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110(C).
7-VT-c.34 to 7-VT-c.35 — Section 219a Application
The developer must file a complete Section 219a Application for interconnected group net-metered hydroelectric power projects that are greater than 150 kW. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110 (C). A complete application must, at minimum, include the following:
- The name, contact information and a description of the company or person (developer) making the application;
- The names and addresses of the landowners on whose property the proposed project will be built;
- The names and addresses of all adjoining property owners. The developer must obtain this information from the most recent version of the town's grand list;
- Notice that the applicant (developer) certified compliance with the advance notice requirements;
- Project description, including the site plan for each project. A ‘’’site plan’’’ shall include:
- proposed facility locations and any incidental project features;
- approximate property boundaries and setback distances from those boundaries to the nearest corners of each of the related structure, approximate distances of any nearby residences, and dimensions of all proposed improvements;
- proposed utilities, including approximate distance from source of power, sizes of service available and required, and approximate locations of any proposed utility or communication lines;
- a description of any areas where vegetation is to be cleared or altered and a description of any proposed direct or indirect alterations or impacts to wetlands and other natural resources protected under 30 V.S.A. § 248(b)(5), including the limits of earth disturbance and the total acreage disturbed;
- detailed plans for any drainage of surface and/or sub-surface water and plans to control erosion and sedimentation both during construction and as a permanent measure;
- locations and specific descriptions of proposed screening, landscaping, ground cover, fencing, exterior lighting, and signs;
- plans of any proposed access driveway, roadway, or parking area at the facility site, including grading, drainage and traveled width, including a cross section of the access drive indicating the width, depth of gravel, paving, or surface materials;
- each plan sheet must be clearly labeled with the project title, date, revision date(s), scale, and name of the person or firm that prepared the plan.
- the developer must address each of the applicable environmental criteria set forth in CVR 30-000-048 § 5.108. To the extent that the proposal will create an adverse impact affecting any of these criteria, the developer must describe what measures, if any, will be taken to minimize such impact; and
- the latitude and longitude coordinates for each proposed project.
- Elevation drawings that are at appropriate scales, but no smaller than 1”/20’:
- for each proposed structure, the applicant must provide elevation drawings, including two elevation drawings of the proposed structures drawn at right angles to each other, showing the ground profile to at least 100 feet beyond the edge of any proposed clearing, and showing any guy wires or supports. The elevation drawing must show the height of the structure above grade at the base, and describe the proposed finish of the structure;
- the elevation drawing must indicate the relative height of the project to the tops of surrounding trees as they presently exist;
- Copies of the relevant sections of the Town Plans and Regional Plans in effect in the communities in which the proposed project will be located and describe how the project meets or complies with the land conservation measures in those plans.
- Testimony or exhibits fully addressing each of the issues mentioned above. Any witness sponsoring an exhibit or testimony must file a notarized affidavit stating that the information provided is accurate to the best of their knowledge and have personal knowledge of and be able to testify as to the validity of the information contained in the exhibit or testimony.
- File with the application proposed findings of fact and a proposed certificate of public good with the application.
The Board will consider the application withdrawn if the developer has not filed an application for the project within 180 days of the date of the advance notice. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110(C).
7-VT-c.36 – Are There Substantial Changes to the Proposed Project?
If the developer makes a substantial change to the proposed project, the developer must provide at least a 45-day notice of this change to all parties and entities already notified, including any newly affected adjoining property owners.
A “substantial change” is one that has the potential for significant impact with respect to any of the criteria applicable to the project. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110(C).
7-VT-c.37 to 7-VT-c.38 — Review Application Materials for Completeness
The developer must submit a complete Section 219a Application for net metered projects greater than 150 kW in capacity. The Board staff will review the application for completeness upon receiving the application.
The Clerk of the Board will inform the applicant (developer) of any deficiencies with the application if it does not substantially comply with the requirements of CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110(C). On the other hand the Clerk of the Board will notify the applicant (developer) if the application is complete. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110(C).
7-VT-c.39 to 7-VT-c.40 — Submit Comments and/or Request a Hearing (if applicable)
Any person may submit comments to the Board concerning an application filed or request a hearing within twenty-one (21) calendar days of the date the application was submitted to the Board and all required parties. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110(C).
Anyone requesting a hearing must make a showing that the application raises a significant issue regarding one or more of the criteria listed pursuant to CVR 30-000-048 § 5.108.
7-VT-c.41 to 7-VT-c.42 — Does the Board Approve the CPG?; Certificate of Public Good
Once the technical (evidentiary) hearing is over, the Board issues a decision on the case. The Board must base the Final Order on the evidentiary record, findings of fact under the Section 248 criteria as well as conclusions of law. Citizen’s Guide to the Vermont Public Service Board’s Section 248 Process, at 5.
If the Board does not hear the case, the Board considers the proposal for decision and any comments on it. Then the Broad may adopt or modify the proposal for decision in a Final Order. If the Board hears the case directly, the Board issues a final decision, without the need for the intermediate step of a proposal for decision. If the project is approved, the Board issues a CPG. Citizen’s Guide to the Vermont Public Service Board’s Section 248 Process, at 5.
The Board must give due consideration to any recommendations filed by municipal and regional planning commission at least seven days prior to the intended filing date and any revised recommendations filed within 45 days after the date that the petition is filed with the Board pursuant to CVR 30-000-056 § 5.402 (A)(2). Citizen’s Guide to the Vermont Public Service Board’s Section 248 Process, at 5.
The Board will issue a CPG following the review period specified in Application for a Certificate of Public Good for Net Metered Power Systems that are Non-Photovoltaic Systems Up to 150 kW (AC) in Capacity. CVR 30-000-048 § 5.110 (B)(5).
7-VT-c.43 — Appeal Decision (if applicable)
Any interested person, including the developer may appeal the permit decision within thirty (30) days of the determination by the Board to the Vermont Supreme Court. 30 V.S.A. § 234.
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