May 5, 2011

New hearing set for Lowell wind

Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Caledonian Record, 5 May 2011

LOWELL – The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation has scheduled a new hearing about storm water runoff from the construction of a new transmission line connected to the proposed Lowell wind project.

The water quality division of the department conducted a hearing in March about runoff from the construction of 21 wind turbines on Lowell’s mountain range.

Nearly 50 people from throughout the Northeast Kingdom offered comment March 2. The project belongs to Green Mountain Power and its partners, Vermont Electric Cooperative and VELCO, the transmission company.

They will have another chance to weigh in on the impact of the project on local wetlands, lakes and rivers at the new hearing set for 6 p.m. June 2 at Lowell Graded School.

Written comment about the proposed draft storm water permit for the wind turbine project and the transmission line will be accepted by the department June 3, according to a statement issued this week.

The storm water permit is one of the secondary permits GMP needs for the project it calls Kingdom Community Wind. State regulators on the Public Service Board are expected to announce this month whether they will issue a certificate of public good allowing what will become the state’s largest wind project.

GMP wants to begin construction this year and have the wind turbines operational before the end of 2012 to qualify for federal tax credits.

GMP and VEC officials will also meet with Irasburg selectmen 7 p.m. May 16 to discuss the economic value of the project.

The secretary of the Department of Environmental Conservation has tentatively decided to issue a storm water permit, saying in an announcement that the proposed project and discharges it will create satisfy Vermont’s anti-degradation policy and that GMP and its partners would be in compliance of state regulations, based on their plans.

The department is accepting comment on the draft permit before making a final decision.

The project, state officials said, would discharge sediment and other construction-related pollutants to the East Branch of the Missisquoi River, to unnamed wetlands and unnamed tributaries of the East Branch, and to unnamed wetlands and unnamed tributaries of Ace Brook, Truland Brook, Seaver Branch, Shalney Branch, Rogers Branch and McCleary Brook.

People seeking information about GMP’s application, the draft permit and Vermont Water Quality Standards are asked to contact analyst Kevin Burke at the department at 802-241-3777.

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