Evslin: S. Burlington is planning to require solar on new residential housing

What about doing it the other way around?

by Tom Evslin

We have a housing shortage in Vermont. Requiring solar makes housing more expensive. According to VTDigger “While the amendment would only regulate new residential buildings with four or more stories, there is a draft residential energy code being worked through that would apply a similar standard to all new residential buildings.”

We need housing more than we need solar panels.

Tom Evslin

Vermont should require that any land on which commercial solar panels are going to be deployed be first rezoned so that housing can be built there. The solar panels can then go on top of the houses. The fields of solar arrays alongside our roads are not beautiful or picturesque. The land would look better and be more useful if it had houses as well as solar panels on it.

Some land is not suitable for housing. We shouldn’t require housing without adequate septic, utilities, and water. However, those requirements should not be an excuse for confining development to those places with municipal services or an excuse for endless permit challenges. Our country land is being squandered when it is used for solar panels without houses under them.

The Act 250 reforms which the legislature elected not to pursue would have made it easier to build housing in the 90+% of the state which is rural. Opponents argue that permitting reforms will lead to suburban sprawl and destroy Vermont’s natural beauty. There’s nothing beautiful about glass and steel solar panels. There’s nothing beautiful about homelessness or substandard housing. Anywhere commercial solar panels are allowed, multifamily housing and housing on small lots should be allowed as well.

The permitting reform that did get through the legislature and which Gov. Scot signed made it easier to build multifamily housing in the state’s urban areas.  South Burlington is making it harder to build by imposing additional costs. We don’t need to require (or forbid) solar panels. We do need give priority to housing over solar panels as a use of both our urban and rural land.

The author, an author, entrepreneur, former Vermont state cabinet officer, lives in Stowe. He founded NG Advantage, a natural gas truck delivery company. This commentary is republished with permission from his blog, Fractals of Change.

Categories: Commentary, Energy, Housing

10 replies »

  1. What landfill be all the hundreds of thousands of old solar panels be dumped into?

    • They will likely be dumped in the Northeast Kingdom – like everything else. They certainly couldn’t have toxins dumped in Chittenden County.

  2. They need to reign in Air B&B’s, and stop mandating stuff like this. Encouraging, subsidizing, tax breaks… sure, fine. But photovoltaic really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Funny though, those old farmhouses sure did have a lot of Southern light exposure. Must be harder to do in the S.Burlington strip-mall sprawl.

  3. Hooray! Vermont is going to change the world!!!! (The only problem is – not in a good way).

  4. While many advocates for the “unhoused” bemoan the lack of affordable housing, So. Burlington continues the gentrification process of making them more unaffordable…

  5. Never mind the children poisoned to mine the chemistry and assemble the components.

  6. This leads to an avoidable conclusion: The Powers That Be just can’t seem to get it through their heads that wanting something to exist just doesn’t work.

    You can ignore how this hurts Vermonters, but ignoring doesn’t make their pain go away. Or is that your intention????

    So you go ahead and keep parking your GD solar panels all over the hills and mountains and trees and houses.

    They are ugly. Useless. Ugly. HURTFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT. Ugly. Needlessly expensive. Ugly.

    But China’s happy: RIGHT??????

    They have otherwise “useless” children to work ungodly hours, who get poisoned doing it, while CCP rakes in the coin.