440 A.2d 140 (Vt. 1981), 64-81, In re Vermont Public Power Supply Authority

Docket Nº:64-81.
Citation:440 A.2d 140, 140 Vt. 424
Opinion Judge:Underwood, J.
Party Name:In re VERMONT PUBLIC POWER SUPPLY AUTHORITY.
Attorney:Paul, Frank & Collins, Inc., Burlington, and Sarah E. Vail, Chester, for Appellants. John D. Paterson and Jon Anderson of Paterson, Gibson, Noble & Goodrich, Montpelier, for Appellee.
Case Date:November 16, 1981
Court:Supreme Court of Vermont
 
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Page 140

440 A.2d 140 (Vt. 1981)

140 Vt. 424

In re VERMONT PUBLIC POWER SUPPLY AUTHORITY.

No. 64-81.

Supreme Court of Vermont.

November 16, 1981

Motion for Reargument Denied Jan. 4, 1982.

Paul, Frank & Collins, Inc., Burlington, and Sarah E. Vail, Chester, for appellants.

John D. Paterson and Jon Anderson of Paterson, Gibson, Noble & Goodrich, Montpelier, for appellee.

Before [140 Vt. 424] BARNEY, C. J., BILLINGS, HILL and UNDERWOOD, JJ., and LARROW, J. (Ret.), Specially Assigned.

[140 Vt. 427] UNDERWOOD, Justice.

This case involves an appeal of a Public Service Board decision to deny intervenor status in a contested case decided by the Board to Seven Ratepayers who purchase electricity from the Village of Ludlow Electric Light Department. The case concerned a six-million-dollar loan taken out by the Vermont Public Power Supply Authority (VPPSA) without the prior approval of the Board. VPPSA is a political subdivision of the State of Vermont and was formed in 1979 to plan, develop, and finance new electrical sources for its members, which include the Village of Ludlow, ten other municipalities and one electric co-operative. The Seven Ratepayers are the Town of Cavendish, Cavendish Town School District, the Castle Inn, Inc., and four individual residents, all from Cavendish.

[140 Vt. 428] The Seven Ratepayers contend that they were entitled to intervene as a matter of right, or in the alternative, that the Board abused its discretion when it denied them permissive intervention. We hold that they were entitled to intervene as a matter of right, and therefore do not reach the issue of permissive intervention.

Page 141

VPPSA negotiated a six-million-dollar loan with the Chase Manhattan Bank of New York City to carry out its mission, and on July 21, 1980, executed its promissory note to the Bank. VPPSA intended to use the proceeds from this loan to finance 30% of the research and development costs for the City of Burlington Electric Department's woodchip plant; to finance 40% of the research and development costs for the Town of Springfield's proposed hydroelectric project on the Black River; to finance research and development costs for a series of hydroelectric facilities on the Missisquoi River in northwestern Vermont; and to finance development of hydroelectric projects on the Saxtons River near Bellows Falls and on the Connecticut River near Windsor, and of nuclear plants in New Hampshire and Connecticut.

VPPSA is not authorized to and does not intend to use any portion of the loan on construction at any of these sites, only for research and development.

VPPSA says that it did not seek or obtain the approval of the Board, pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 108, before it negotiated the loan and signed the six-million-dollar note because it did not believe that statute applied to VPPSA. VPPSA waited until October 17, 1980, nearly three months after the note was executed, to notify the Board by letter of the July 21, 1980, loan. The letter described the terms of the loan agreement and told the Board, "The underlying security for the note to Chase is provided by participation agreements between the (VPPSA) members and (VPPSA)," entered into only after an affirmative vote of the qualified voters of each municipality in accordance with 30 V.S.A. § 5017.

The Board treated the letter from VPPSA's attorney as a petition for a declaratory ruling to...

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