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GMP: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources OKs remediation

LOWELL – Green Mountain Power says remediation work on land to be conserved in mitigation for the Lowell wind project was completed Sunday.

And the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources signed off on that remediation work Monday, clearing the way for GMP to begin construction once regulators give the green light and several key water-quality permits are issued, according to GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure.

GMP won’t begin construction without those water-control permits from the agency, Schnure said Tuesday.

The utility wanted to begin work by Aug. 1 so the turbines would be operating by the end of 2012 in order to secure millions of dollars in federal production tax credits. The tax credits expire at the end of next year.

GMP still has enough time to build the wind project and get the tax credits, but the clock is ticking, Schnure said. And there is no indication when ANR will issue the permits.

“Every day is important,” Schnure said.

Meanwhile, GMP is getting ready by asking the Vermont Public Service Board to expedite its approval of the remediation work.

The board’s regulators ordered the remediation work on land owned by Trip Wileman of Moose Mountain Forestry. Hundreds of acres are to be set aside for bear and wildlife habitat in mitigation for the work that will be done on the Lowell ridge line that Wileman also owns to make way for 21 industrial-grade wind turbines.

GMP and ANR officials discovered in late July that logging-related work on the land to be conserved was not done properly, threatening water quality. GMP paid for remediation work, including reseeding and replanting some road-side areas that were cleared and for fill to be taken out of a beaver pond wetland. Wileman is also setting aside more land for conservation.

GMP’s experts told the board in a motion filed Monday that the work has been done to meet the board’s demands.

GMP’s experts also said that 10 trees cut down on the ridge line by contractors doing survey work – which were slated to be cut down once the construction begins – have no effect on water runoff and would not affect the project.

Meanwhile, the towns of Albany and Craftsbury are asking the board to reconsider its decision to allow construction to go forward before easements for the land to be conserved are in place.

And opponents have continued to protest the pace of filings before the board, saying they haven’t had time to react to everything that GMP is filing to meet its own deadline.