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Wind opponents rally against VEC line upgrade 

Credit:  By LAURA CARPENTER, The Newport Daily Express, newportvermontdailyexpress.com 5 July 2011 ~~

IRASBURG – A group of local legislators joined opponents to the Lowell Wind project to call on Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) members to vote “no” on a request to upgraded a power transmission line between Lowell, Jay and Westfield.

Opponents to the Kingdom Community Wind project say that a “no” vote on the transmission line sends a message that they do not support the controversial wind project, which is to be built on Lowell Mountain.

If the upgrade isn’t approved, it could delay or possibly kill the wind project, they believe.

Green Mountain Power (GMP), the force behind the Lowell wind project, needs to begin work on the project by August 1 in order to have the wind project on-line by December 2012. The wind project must be operational by then in order to qualify for millions of dollars in federal tax credits. The upgrade on the line is needed for the project.

Chief Executive Officer of Vermont Electric Cooperative Dave Hallquist says that the transmission line upgrade is needed whether the wind project is completed or not.

VEC negotiated an agreement with GMP in which GMP would pay 58 percent of the transmission line upgrade and use the line for the wind power project. Hallquist says this payment by GMP would translate into a saving for rate-payers. Hallquist said that some people mistakenly think a no vote will stop the project but, he said said, whether the upgrade is approved or not, GMP would still move forward with the wind project.

GMP spokespeople confirmed this. An upgraded transmission line is needed to support the wind project, and GMP officials say they could find an alternative should VEC voters say no.

On the other hand, Hallquist said, a vote of no on the transmission line would merely mean higher costs to VEC consumers as VEC would end up paying the entire bill for the upgrade.

Lukas Snelling with Energize Vermont said that a no vote on the upgrade could delay the wind project long enough to stop it from happening.

Ballots are currently in the mail, on their way to VEC members, to ask their support for the upgrade to the transmission line. Meanwhile, seven people are running for the one open position on the VEC board of directors.

Lowell Wind opponents gathered at Bob’s Quick Stop in Irasburg Tuesday morning to urge members to vote no and state why they oppose Kingdom Community Wind.

Representative Vicki Strong says the state has too many fiscal challenges to be in a position to support the project. She said that wind is not the best choice for Vermont.

Bob Booth, the owner of Bob’s Quick Stop, is also concerned about the cost of the project. He said that costumers are going to have to pay for the project and the decommissioning process. Booth also raised concerns over the effect of the project on tourism. He said many area businesses rely on tourists for economic support.

“What will be left to draw people to the area?” he questioned. “Vote no because we can’t afford it.”

Doctor Ron Holland of Irasburg said that the cost of the project and the power it would generate is high compared to other renewable energy sources. Holland says that a financial gain to Gaz Metro, the parent company of GMP, is the only benefit to the project.

Rep. Duncan Kilmartin echoed Holland’s concern on a financial benefit to Quebec from the wind project. He said that the wind project and GMP’s possible buy-out of Central Vermont Public Services (CVPS) puts Vermont utilities on the verge of a monopoly controlled by foreign interests.

Kilmartin says voting no send a message.

Representative Mike Marcotte said that the project would ruin ridgelines and Vermont’s natural beauty. He would like to see base-load power. “What are we replacing Vermont Yankee with, wind mills?” he questioned. “We want to keep the mountains pristine,” he said.

Several in attendance said that the the damage done by the project could never be repaired and others raised concerns over possible heath effects.

Towards the end of the meeting, everyone began to chant, “The people united will never be defeated.”

Source:  By LAURA CARPENTER, The Newport Daily Express, newportvermontdailyexpress.com 5 July 2011

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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