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Lowell Wind: Winter slows, doesn’t stop work  

Credit:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 12 January 2012 ~~

Work on the Lowell wind project will continue through the winter, but some parts of the construction have already shut down until spring, officials said.

The project to install 21 industrial-grade turbines is progressing as planned, Schnure said.

“Kingdom Community Wind remains on schedule to be complete and operational by the end of this year,” she said.

Road building, blasting excavation continue along the ridgeline with work extending to nearly the northernmost end of the project and more than halfway to the southern end, Schnure said.

This week, contractors began working on the concrete foundation of the substation that will collect the electricity generated by the turbines. That substation is at a level area halfway up the access road from the staging area on Route 100.

Crews are preparing to set poles for the overhead collector line, which will carry electricity from the underground electric lines on the ridge to the substation. This work is expected to continue throughout the winter, Schnure said.

However, along the ridgeline, work laying the underground electric collector lines has ceased because of winter and will begin again in the spring.

Some construction activity will continue on the mountain, but it will be less than what was under way since the work began in October, Schnure said.

Once the spring thaw is complete, work will begin again at the same busy pace as in the fall, she said.

“Green Mountain Power has obtained all necessary pre-construction permits and met all required pre-construction conditions placed on it by state regulators,” Schnure said.

A court battle continues over land owned by Trip Wileman of Lowell, where part of the wind site is located on the ridgeline. Neighbors Don and Shirley Nelson of Lowell are claiming the parcel is theirs.

So far in court, GMP has won its arguments over blasting security.

Opponents have continued to occasionally trespass on the wind site, posting photographs of people walking on the crane path over the past several weeks on their blog lowellmountainnews.

Eight protesters are facing charges, six accused of trespassing last year and two accused of violating a now-defunct court order last year about a blasting safety zone near the site.

A reporter was also charged with trespassing when covering a protest at the wind site late last year.

About 200 people have worked directly in support of the construction phase of the Kingdom Community Wind project as of this week, Schnure said.

More than 100 different Vermont-based firms have been involved with the project and 13 different Vermont-based firms have worked directly on the construction phase, she said.

Of the 61 new positions created as a result of the KCW construction project, Schnure said 47 Vermonters were hired.

For example, JA McDonald of Lyndon Center has 70 employees conducting site construction activities in Lowell, she said.

“When it is completed in December 2012, the electricity that is produced can supply more than 24,000 homes with affordable, locally available energy for Vermont Electric Coop members and Green Mountain Power customers,” Schnure said.

“The cost per kilowatt-hour is expected to be between 9 cents and 10 cents, which is the most cost-effective new renewable energy available,” she said.

Source:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 12 January 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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