Solar plant points out hearing errors

KINGMAN - The Arizona Corporation Commission's Line Siting Committee will address concerns today from Hualapai Valley Solar that two possible procedural errors were made during hearings on the certificate of environmental compatibility for the company's solar project Jan. 12 and 13.

On Jan. 21, HVS asked the LSC to resolve concerns it had with a possible violation of the Arizona Open Meeting Law and to reconsider the request for Mohave County residents Denise Bensusan and Susan Bayer to act as interveners in the hearing process. "We have a very good project, and after reflecting on the hearing and reviewing the transcripts, we just want to be sure that no procedural issues come up that might delay our progress in getting our CEC," Project Director Greg Bartlett wrote in an e-mail to the Miner.

In its request, HVS raised concerns that LSC Chairman Tom Foreman violated the Open Meeting Law when he told people attending the hearings that anyone recording the meeting would have to record the entire meeting from start to finish and provide copies and transcripts of the recording to the LSC. The Open Meeting Law allows anyone to record a public meeting as long as it does not interfere with the meeting.

HVS also asked the LSC to reconsider allowing people to intervene in the case.

On Jan. 12, a motion at the LSC hearing to grant Bensusan and Bayer status interveners failed. The two women were allowed to testify as witnesses before the committee but were not allowed to cross-examine other witnesses. Reconsidering the decision would "remove any concerns about the individuals' participation," HVS stated in its request.

Bensusan already had plans to protest the LSC's decision not to allow her to intervene.

"I knew that something was wrong," she said. She had extensive contact with employees at the ACC and LSC to make sure that she correctly filed all of her paperwork to become an intervener, she said. Yet her request to be an intervener was rejected.

"Citizens should have had the opportunity to intervene," Bensusan said.

The LSC has stated in a response to HVS' request that the possible Open Meeting Law violation was probably just a technical error that would have no effect on HVS' certificate of environmental compatibility. However, the LSC would consider both requests from HVS during a meeting today in Goodyear.