LOWELL – Don and Shirley Nelson have asked Gov. Peter Shumlin to visit their farm, which is nestled in a hillside valley below the Lowell ridge line where 21 wind turbines are proposed.
The Nelsons, in a March 22 letter, said they want to show the governor their property and all the area that would be impacted by the wind project. They asked Shumlin to stop next week during his business tour of Orleans County.
Shumlin, in a response dated March 31 and released to the press by the Nelsons Wednesday, said the town of Lowell voted for the wind project by Green Mountain Power.
“I believe that Vermont must weigh the benefits of wind power against the concerns of communities in which these projects are proposed,” Shumlin wrote. “The decision to put up wind turbines is a decision best made by the potential host community, and their vote on the matter should stand. Last year, the town of Lowell voted to allow this project to move forward.”
GMP, with partners Vermont Electric Cooperative and transmission company VELCO, has asked state regulators for a certificate of public good to erect 21 commercial-size turbines on the ridge line.
The Public Service Board is expected to issue a ruling in May.
The Nelsons opposed the project in testimony to the board and as part of the opposition Lowell Mountain Group.
In their letter to Shumlin, the Nelsons said the 459-foot turbines would affect many people who use the VAST trail, the Catamount Trail, ski trails, and others who have traditionally hiked, rode, hunted in or enjoyed the Lowell Mountains.
“These would all be affected because of the safety zone required around these projects,” the Nelsons wrote. “We have a farm nestled on the eastern side of these mountains – our buildings are located about 4,500 feet from the proposed site of the towers, but our property lines are within 200 feet of turbine location. The proposed wind project would severely impact the value of our property as well as the surrounding area.
“We are not against wind power per se, but it is not appropriate for an area that would affect so many people,” they wrote. “It would change the scenic beauty for at least a 30-mile circle around the mountains including Greensboro, Craftsbury, Albany and Irasburg on the east and Jay Peak, Westfield and on into Canada on the west, as well as many places in between.”
Shumlin urged the Nelsons to send written comments to the board. He did not respond to their invitation to visit their farm. Earlier this year, he took an unscheduled tour around the range but did not have time to stop at the Nelson farm.
He thanked the Nelsons for their letter.
“I will keep your concerns about the Catamount Trail and the wide range of outdoor activities available to the public in mind as our state moves forward on wind energy issues,” Shumlin wrote.
The Shumlin administration cut a deal with GMP to preserve hundreds of acres of bear habitat across the range to make up for losses at the wind turbine sites. The agreement between the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and GMP came after ANR experts had testified critically about the impact of the project.
ANR Secretary Deborah Markowitz is expected to develop a statewide list of places where commercial turbines should not be located.
Shumlin, who wants to see Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant closed, supports wind and other renewable energy sources.
In releasing the letters, the Nelsons said they wanted to show the governor that there are two sides to the Lowell wind project.
“Every attempt to bring these facts to his attention are rejected. The Lowell vote was passed only by the people on the check list, not by all the people on the grand list,” they said.
In their final comment to the board filed Saturday, the Nelsons lament the fact that nothing more can be said to stop the Lowell wind project.
They also point out that another wind company, BNE in Connecticut, has a wind test tower in Eden and say that company wants to erect another 18 turbines on the southern end of the range in Eden.
They also said that the board didn’t visit the ridge line and the proposed sites of the turbines. “If the board will go to this site, it would speak volumes on the catastrophe of this project,” they wrote to the board.
They said they have opened their land to all visitors, including hikers, skiers, hunters and horseback riders.
They reiterated that they will sue over a property line dispute near one of the proposed turbine sites.
They asked the board to reject the certificate of public good for the wind project and demand more information.
The jobs and electricity that would be created, estimated at enough to power 20,000 homes at capacity, isn’t enough to make up for the damage and loss the project will cause to the people, place and wildlife, they said.
All the briefs and testimony filed in connection with the Lowell wind project are posted at the Kingdom Community Wind website, under “About our project,” and Section 248 filing.
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