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Board delays conservation easements for wind project

(Host) Green Mountain Power got a final ruling today on its proposed Lowell Mountain wind energy project.

The company will be allowed to start construction next month on Lowell without first having conservation easements in place to protect wildlife habitat.

The Public Service Board originally said the conservation easements had to be secured prior to August 1st. The board has now extended that deadline to the end of the year.

Dorothy Schnure is a GMP spokeswoman.

(Schnure) “I think that makes it very practical, doable for us to accomplish what we need to accomplish with those easements. So I think that seems like a reasonable term.”

(Host) But the towns of Albany and Craftsbury argued that the wildlife habitat should be protected before GMP breaks ground. Jared Margolis is the towns’ lawyer. He says the board acknowledged in its order that the construction would have an impact on wildlife.

(Schnure) “We’re disappointed that the board has allowed them to create the fragmentation that they’ve identified as such a problem and a potential undue adverse impact on the environment prior to any mitigation being in place. We think it’s a bad decision for the environment.”

(Host) The board also ruled that if GMP does not have the easements in place by the end of the year, it will have to halt work on the project.

GMP wants to put 21 turbines on Lowell Mountain to generate 63 megawatts of wind power.