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GMP wins approvals for Lowell Mt. wind project

Green Mountain Power Corp. has gained several green lights for its stalled Lowell Mountain wind project – but has yet to win permission to start construction.

The utility started work Monday to repair damages done by a landowner on property the company had agreed to protect near the project, where it intends to build 21 wind turbines, Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said.

The state Agency of Natural Resources issued an order Friday outlining repairs the company had to make within 30 days that include adding plants to a wetlands area and improving culverts.

Jon Groveman, the agency’s legal counsel, said the agency continues its enforcement investigation of the damages. The investigation will determine whether the state seeks to levy a fine or other penalty on the utility.

Groveman said of the damage, “It wasn’t minimal.”

At the same time, the state Public Service Board approved Green Mountain Power’s plans to protect 17.5 acres of upper-elevation wetlands in exchange for land that will be filled in or altered by the wind project.

The wind project needs two stormwater permits, a wetlands permit and a water quality certificate before construction can begin, Groveman said.

Groveman said he couldn’t give a timeframe for those permits, but he said, “It’s obviously the biggest thing we have going. Sooner rather than later.”

Schnure said of the project’s delay, “Every day counts; we’re still eager to get started. … We still believe we can get it going on time.