In re Joint Petition of Green Mountain Power Corp., 2012 VT 89.
Today’s case is one of the first in what will likely be a series of cases sparked by the spate of wind turbine construction throughout Vermont by various utilities and private companies. As we have previously seen, challenges to overturn the decisions of the Public Service Board face an uphill battle, and today’s case is no exception.
This is because the Board is really a quasi-adjudicative body. It is primarily a regulatory agency, and as such, its decisions are given deference by the SCOV, who is usually more than happy to leave the policy or fact-finding portions of the decision intact short of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
In theory this is neither good nor bad. We expect administrative proceedings to be different—a little stilted, and focused on a particular area of specialization.
In practice, this framework tends to favor the developers of projects who gain a great deal of experience and sophistication before the Board and as a result are able to navigate its regulatory process better than the random opponent who may or may not have competent counsel. On top of this is the traditional regulatory problem of proof. Often the burden of proof falls upon the applicant to show no harm will come from a project, but with Board matters, the issue is public good.