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GMP still has wind questions to answer  

Credit:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Caledonian Record, caledonianrecord.com 5 April 2011 ~~

Green Mountain Power is still trying to decide which type of turbine is best for the Lowell wind project.

The utility also has to re-open its agreement with the town of Lowell to clear up ambiguities before state regulators can approve the project.

And Vermont Electric Cooperative, a partner with GMP, must have a vote of its members about work at substations it owns.

In a brief filed last month with state regulators, GMP outlined these needs as part of what has to be done before the Public Service Board can issue a certificate of public good for the Lowell wind project called Kingdom Community Wind.

The turbine models can be chosen after the certificate is issued, according to GMP officials.

GMP says that four different styles of turbines are suitable for the ridge-line project.

GMP also reiterates that the Public Service Board should not trim out several turbines, which was requested by Green Mountain Club in hearings earlier this year.

The loss of even one turbine would increase the cost of the project by reducing the amount of electricity it would generate, according to the GMP brief.

“Removal of three turbines would not substantially change or mitigate the project’s visual presence. It will still be observed as a linear array of turbines along the Lowell Mountain Range,” GMP said in its brief.

The Public Service Board is expected to make a decision about Lowell wind in May. GMP has summarized the project plans in a brief that includes a proposed order for the board to consider.

GMP rejected claims by landowners Don and Shirley Nelson, who said they are challenging property rights near several turbines.

GMP says the Public Service Board has granted certificates of public good in the past despite pending litigation about access rights – citing the certificate issued to UPC Wind for its Sheffield project.

And GMP says it doesn’t need to make payments to nearby landowners who claim that their property will lose value, pointing to a recent board decision involving the Deerfield wind project.

Several opponents, including the towns of Albany and Craftsbury, didn’t submit strong enough evidence to show a loss of property value, GMP says.

GMP said it must begin construction by August of this year to complete work by December 2012 to qualify for federal tax credits.

GMP has already agreed to a land conservation plan to protect habitat for bear and other wildlife.

It also agreed to monitor noise after construction is complete and the turbines are operational. A hot line for complaints would be set up, GMP said.

GMP would make sure TV broadcasts weren’t affected, offering remediation if anything is affected, and to file a pre-blasting plan with the board.

GMP wants to be able to blast for the ridge-line line and mountain-access road between 7 a.m. to and 6 p.m. weekdays. But the state’s consumer advocates at the Department of Public Service want to limit the blasting to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

The department asked the board to require GMP to cease operating any turbine that is causing more noise than is allowed under current standards the board uses for commercial wind turbines. The department also said that if GMP can’t fix a problem turbine, it would have to be decommissioned.

GMP has agreed with the Vermont Agency Of Natural Resources to decommission cleanup and revegetation of the roadways.

GMP promised to seek a radar tower for aviation warning rather than rely on red warning lights, if the Federal Aviation Administration approves.

The FAA is discussing such a radar system now, GMP says.

Source:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Caledonian Record, caledonianrecord.com 5 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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