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Lowell leaders defend wind project in their town

(Host) Town officials in Lowell say opponents of a wind project there should give up and go home.

Voters in Lowell supported the development by a strong majority at their 2010 Town Meeting. The 21 turbine project was approved by the Public Service Board and is under construction. But protests have continued on the Lowell ridgeline.

Now officials have staged their own rally in support of the project. Alden Warner is a member of the Lowell select board.

(Warner) “And we wanted people to know that we are still here. We still support it. There’s 75 percent of the people still support it. And it’s time for the opposition to leave us alone. Leave them alone. Let them do their work.”

(Host) The protesters have been gathering near the safety zone used by blasting contractors clearing a road on the ridgeline.

Warner says the town of Lowell – which has about 800 residents – will receive about $16 million dollars over the 25 year life of the project. He says he’s worried that the protests could cause costly delays and make the wind power more expensive.

(Warner) “These protesters what they’re doing is not going to affect the amount that the town of Lowell gets, because that’s contract, that’s already been signed and agreed. That’s a given. But the cost of electricity is not a given and therefore that’s what’s going to be affected by them constantly causing it to be slowed down.”

(Host) But wind opponent Steve Wright of Craftsbury said the impacts go far beyond the town of Lowell. He said protesters are simply exercising their constitutional rights.

(Wright) “There are individual who still have strong feelings about whether or not this project is in the best interests of the state of Vermont. Yes, this project has won a Public Service Board ruling. But a Public Service Board ruling, any court ruling, does not abrogate an individual’s right to speak their mind. And in terms of what’s going on the mountain right now, that’s exactly what’s happening.

(Host) Wright and other opponents are concerned about the impact on wildlife habitat and upland streams in the area. Wright says the towns of Craftsbury and Albany will be more affected than the Lowell. He says the two towns have continued their appeal of the project’s permits.