Here’s a sentence I bet you thought you wouldn’t read today: A solar energy company is suing the Department of Interior in an effort to stop the country’s first major offshore wind farm. Last week, Allco Energy filed a lawsuit in Boston federal court accusing the DOI of improperly greenlighting the Vineyard Wind project—and illustrating the strange twists and turns NIMBYism is starting to take as the energy transition ramps up.
The owner of Allco is Thomas Melone, a New York-based tax lawyer turned renewable energy entrepreneur. Melone, it seems, is a big fan of lawsuits. As Vermont Public Radio reported earlier this year, Melone has duked it out in court with parties who tried to stand in his way of building solar projects in the states where he does business, filing at least 10 appeals with Vermont’s Supreme Court. (According to VPR, he has also sued the state of Connecticut four times over its solar subsidy programs, gone toe-to-toe with National Grid in Massachusetts, and sued someone who criticized him and his solar project on social media for defamation.) Two attorneys who have gone against Melone and Vermont’s Department of Public Service, a frequent target of his, described his tactics to VPR as “scorched earth;” another lawyer said he “give[s] renewable energy in Vermont a bad name.”
Melone’s company has often used the urgency of the climate crisis as justification for its aggressive tactics. A 2015 brief filed with the Vermont Public Service Board in support of a petition for public good for Chelsea Solar, an Allco-owned project, claimed that the “unsubstantiated and private” concerns of a citizen opposed to the project “pale in comparison to the benefits provided by the Project, and the urgent need for action on climate change.” Meanwhile, a petition filed by Allco with Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in February begins with a long list of how climate change is impacting the state. Allco’s website has numerous mentions of climate change, and its mission page describes “collapsing glaciers in Antarctica” and references to federal research on climate change.