Green Mountain Power is trying to fix problems with sediment and erosion controls that led to a stop-work order last week at the Kingdom Community Wind project.
“As of now, we have focused all our work on our storm water and erosion management systems,” said Green Mountain Power Spokeswoman Dotty Schnure.
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources issued the order last Wednesday when the agency became aware that sediment controls for construction on the project were not adequate to keep up with the amounts of storm water runoff that happened after heavy rain the first weekend in October. The order required Green Mountain Power to stop all work except for that which was necessary to bring the project into compliance with its erosion prevention and sediment control plan.
Schnure said the current work is associated with fixing the erosion problems.
Padraic Monks, program manager for the Stormwater Management Section of the Department of Environmental Conservation, verified via email that the current work is consisent with the order. Monks said DEC officials have been making regular site visits and are returning to the mountain today.
“To the best of our knowledge, they are complying with the order,” Monks wrote.
Over the weekend, opponents of the project took photos of the construction work and claimed Green Mountain Power was not following the order.
“We are seeing sedimentation running off the access road into the wetlands below,” said Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.
Smith said she was skeptical about the quality of environmental controls set by the agency.
Kingdom Community Wind has encountered fierce opposition from opponents who argue building the access roads will degrade water quality and disturb wildlife habitat. Others oppose the project because of its impacts on the ridgeline’s aesthetics. In July, the project made headlines when state officials discovered unauthorized pre-construction work on the site.
The project is slated for completion by the end of 2012. Green Mountain Power hopes to have the project online by that date in order to take advantage of federal tax credits. The 63-megawatt, 21-turbine wind project is designed to provide power for more than 20,000 homes.
The Agency of Natural Resources issued the stop-work order because heavy vehicles were traveling beyond the area where sediment and erosion controls had been put in place as part of the road construction to the top of the mountain.
Green Mountain Power received five permits from the Agency of Natural Resources in August, including three storm water permits, a certification from the state of Vermont that the project will comply with state water quality standards and a wetland permit.
Energize Vermont, a local group that opposes Kingdom Community Wind, has challenged all five permits. Lukas Snelling, director of communications for the organization, said sediment from the construction area on top of Lowell Mountain could degrade water quality in tributary streams below. The best management practices as outlined in the permit, he said, are inadequate to deal with the amount of water that will flow onto the site as a result of precipitation.
“We fear that the permitted storm water controls are vastly inadequate for this type of massive construction on highly erodible soil,” Snelling said.
The Vermont Public Service Board will hold a prehearing conference for the appeal of all five permits on Friday at 11 a.m. The hearing will be held at the Public Service Board Hearing Room, Third Floor, People’s United Bank Building, 112 State St., Montpelier.
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