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Wind war shifts to newspaper pages

“Big wind” enthusiasts and opponents saw different pictures of the Lowell wind project called Kingdom Community Wind in the advertising sections of local newspapers Wednesday and in the mail.

As promised, the opponents had a quarter-page campaign ad urging Vermont Electric Cooperative members to vote “no” on the proposed upgrade of a power line that would transmit electricity from the Lowell wind project to the grid.

The line would also provide increased and needed reliability to the Jay area, where Jay Peak Resort continues to grow at a rapid clip.

The ad is signed by seven Orleans County legislators and says “the proposal is tied to the Lowell wind project, and we think the co-op should pursue other ways to meet its members’ energy needs that don’t negatively impact the landscape, citizens and economic vitality of our region.”

The ad is paid for by Energize Vermont. Luke Snelling of Energize Vermont said the ad is only appearing in Orleans County papers, not in VEC’s entire service area – which is throughout northern Vermont.

He said the opponents of the Lowell wind project don’t have enough money to reach all members of the co-op – although the members in other parts of the state may not be as opposed to the project.

VEC CEO Dave Hallquist has said that most members want wind power. He pointed to those in Grand Isle, who already look at wind turbines across Lake Champlain and want to see more, he said.

Also in the local newspapers there is an ad that shows the other side of the wind project. It is not a campaign ad, but could provide the incentive for someone on the fence to support the Lowell wind project and vote for the power line upgrade.

Green Mountain Power, which wants to erect the 21 turbines on the Lowell ridge line, has an ad called “Local Power, Local Jobs.”

The smaller-size ad announces two job fairs for jobs at Kingdom Community Wind this month, featuring a drawing of two turbines that are plugged in to “local jobs.”

GMP, as part of its certificate of public good from state regulators, must attempt to employ as many area residents as possible.

The job fairs are: Tuesday, 5-8 p.m. at the Lowell Fire Department; and July 19, 1 to 7 p.m., at North Country Union High School in Newport City.

Major contractors working on the wind project will be on hand and ready to meet potential employees for interviews, GMP states in the ad.

Details about available jobs are online at kingdomcommunitywind.com.

GMP, with partners VEC and VELCO, the transmission company, has to meet 42 conditions to live up to the certificate of public good.

Some conditions must be met before construction begins in August and others must be met before the turbines go online, expected at the end of 2012.

Also Wednesday, a special VEC newsletter about the vote on the transmission line upgrade began appearing in mailboxes throughout northern Vermont.

The newsletter contains information about the ballot on the line upgrade and other articles, plus VEC information about the ballot questions.

The ballots are expected to arrive in the mail soon.