Library filed under General from Vermont
It is clear that the PSB ignores witnesses whose testimony identifies negative impacts from wind developments. The regulator has been captured by the regulated. We need a new or different public process (perhaps Act 250) for renewable energy projects, especially utility-scale wind turbines. The common refrain we hear from interveners after each PSB decision is, "It was as though we weren't even there."
An Orleans Superior Court judge said Tuesday that Lowell farmers Don and Shirley Nelson as well as protesters on their mountainside land are "improperly interfering" with the Lowell wind project.
Protesters, some calling themselves the Occupy Lowell Mountaineers, came from towns throughout the region to express their anger and disappointment, some signs were addressed to GMP and some to politicians. ...A security officer assisted a protester who was in a wheel chair, allowing her vehicle to park at the staging area and assisting her across the road to the protest line.
"This is not a nuisance case, this is a trespass case," said attorney Anthony Roisman, summing up the Nelsons' case on Tuesday afternoon. "Does Green Mountain Power have a permit to use any portion of the Nelsons' land as a safety zone for their blasting?" he asked rhetorically. "If they have no right to do so," Roisman continued, "they have no ability to interfere with the Nelsons' use of their property."
"It's going to destroy one of the most beautiful and pristine ridge lines in Vermont for a very, very small amount of power in return," says Ben Luce, a wind power protestor. But Wright says this is more than a protest. He and others want to fight GMP on the mountain and in the courts.
The U.S. wind industry installed just over 1,200 megawatts (MW) of wind power in the third quarter, and about 3,360 MW on the year so far, the wind industry trade group said Tuesday. ...uncertainty over government policies has many leading wind developers holding off on scheduling projects for 2013, AWEA said.
The Nelsons aren't done fighting back. They've hired the Norwich law firm Hershenson, Carter, Scott and McGee to fight Green Mountain Power in court, including a contention that part of the land where Green Mountain Power plans to blast is actually owned by the Nelsons. "This is going to be settled in court," Nelson said.
Martin said he learned about the judge's order like everyone else in the area -- by reading and listening to news reports. But that isn't enough to give them any authority to go up on the Lowell ridgeline and arrest anyone, he said.
A judge ruled late Thursday that visitors camping out on land in Lowell near where Green Mountain Power Corp. is blasting rock to make room for a 21-turbine wind project have to stay clear of the blasting, at least until another court hearing is held.
Van Akkeren, who lives in nearby Craftsbury, says she's not philosophically opposed to wind energy. ...But she says this kind of ridgeline development doesn't make sense in Vermont. Worse, she's put off by what she considers GMP's heavy-handed approach to the Nelsons. ..."the push to buy the Nelsons out, then threatening to sue. We need to stand against that."
The protestors are fighting Green Mountain Power's $156 million project planned to build 21 wind turbines-- each more than 400-feet tall. GMP officials say the turbines would power more than 24,000 homes.
Eisenberg provided an update of the project's progress at the Castleton Select Board meeting last week where he said impact study results should be available by the end of the month but more data collection are scheduled to be performed this fall.
The economic case for wind power is fatally shaky. Too expensive and so unreliable that it requires a duplicate plant for backup. So wind advocates point out that it is hydrocarbon-free. But if you grant the arguments for global warming, these two projects are too small to make a difference and, worse, a serious misallocation of scarce resources.
Dorothy Schnure, spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, said the work would have to go more slowly than the company had planned, adding costs to the project. GMP said it may try to recover the additional costs in a lawsuit against neighbors Don and Shirley Nelson.
Green Mountain Power has won a court order that requires opponents of its Lowell Mountain wind project to stay away from its construction zone during blasting periods.
The federal reviews will not supersede local or state permitting, however, the council has stated that improving the efficiency and effectiveness of federal permit decisions and environmental reviews is a critical step to accelerate job creation.
It was a letter from GMP's attorney threatening to sue the Nelsons if they persist in letting "guests" occupy a campsite too close to the top of the project site to permit blasting. The damages GMP would attempt to recover could easily exceed $1-million, the letter said ..."I can take one and a quarter million and run, or be fined a million bucks," Mr. Nelson said Tuesday. “That’s a good way to handle a Vermont farmer on his retirement.”
The development of wind power along Vermont's ridgelines has divided Vermonters in a way development issues do not normally split environmentalists. Is Green Mountain Power's Kingdom Community Wind Project planned for Lowell Mountain really a needed investment in our local quest to confront climate change or will it unnecessarily despoil what is at the heart of what Vermonters cherish -- our scenic ridgelines?
The board voted 3-2 to in favor of the resolution prepared by the Coalition Against Article X. Article X, also known as the Power NY Act, establishes a one-year permitting process for building power plants. Each project would be considered by a seven-member board consisting of five state department heads and two locally appointed community representatives.
In a cynical manipulation of the well-meaning public, which is desperate for progress with renewable energy, gov. Peter Shumlin and GMP are justifying the destruction of the Lowell Mountains as "green" and "local." Shumlin argues that he is diversifying Vermont's energy portfolio, and that this mountain range must be sacrificed because Vermont Yankee is closing. He is giving Vermonters a false choice.