LOWELL – Work continued through the weekend on storm-water runoff controls at the Lowell wind project as part of an order by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
Contractors for Green Mountain Power stopped work last week on road construction to focus on the storm-water runoff installations, said Dorothy Schnure, GMP spokeswoman.
ANR had issued a stop-work order mid-week because the road work up Lowell Mountain had run ahead of accompanying storm-water runoff controls, Schnure said. She likened the road work and storm-water runoff controls as a train with two cars, both needing to move ahead at the time.
Some controls had been installed, she said, but not completed. What was installed was not enough to handle the 4 inches of rain that fell the weekend of Oct. 1-2, Schnure said, causing some silt runoff.
Blasting and work on the mountain prompted complaints during the weekend from opponents of GMP’s plan to erect 21 industrial-grade turbines on the ridge line. Construction began in September.
Opponent Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Cleaner Environment of Danby asked the state for an explanation. In response, state officials confirmed to opponents that GMP’s contractors are doing work that is allowed under the stop-work order.
David K. Mears, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, said in an e-mail to Smith that ANR oversight officials had been to the site on Lowell Mountain.
“I have communicated with the storm-water permitting staff,” Mears said. “While most work and vehicular traffic on the site is required to cease, the stop work order does require work to be done on site as necessary to implement the erosion prevention and sediment control plan. This work includes moving earth and stone to change grades and the construction of best management practices and also could include blasting. I suspect this is the work that citizens have been hearing.”
“We have been out on the site and have stayed in touch with the company and its contractors to ensure that they are complying and we will continue to maintain this oversight,” Mears said.
Schnure said she expected that the storm-water control work that ANR had required as part of the initial permit would be completed in a day or two and that ANR officials would inspect the work before lifting the stop work order.
GMP has a certificate of public good from Vermont state regulators on the Public Service Board for the Lowell wind project, with some conditions to be met before the turbines are turned on.
GMP wants to be complete and operating before the end of 2012 in order to secure federal tax credits to reduce the cost of the electricity for ratepayers.
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