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Lowell wind opponents expand outreach

ALBANY – Lowell wind opponents will have their third open house on the mountain Sunday, this time followed by a question-and-answer session at Albany Community School.

Like the first two open houses last fall, the opponents will begin the afternoon at 12:30 p.m. with a hike for those interested up the mountain to a camp on property neighboring the wind site where questions may be asked and anyone who wants to go closer can do so.

Then the group will invite hikers and anyone else interested to the gathering at 3 p.m. at the school on Route 14. It is “to answer questions, not to debate whether turbines on ridgelines are public good projects,” according to the organizers.

Their intent, according to an invitation that went out this week, is to answer questions that wind supporters, opponents and those on the fence have about large turbines in Vermont.

They want folks to come who are:

â?¢ In favor of wind projects but uncertain about having them on Vermont’s ridgelines.

â?¢ Concerned about the loss of habitat as well as impacts on water quality and aesthetics.

â?¢ Undecided.

â?¢ In favor and wondering why others are opposed.

â?¢ Or just curious about what the wind construction site looks like.

The past two open houses drew more than 200 people, including folks from other parts of Vermont, several area legislators and the head of Vermont Electric Cooperative, David Hallquist. VEC is a partner in the wind project and attended to hear the concerns of the local opponents who are members of the co-op.

The hike will begin at the school at 12:30 p.m. Organizers will arrange a carpool to the base of the mountain and lead a hike up to the camp where participants can view the crane path on the ridgeline.

They encourage participants to wear warm clothing, a hat, and winter boots with good traction, and carry a walking stick if needed and a daypack with snacks, water and extra clothes and a mug for hot tea or cocoa.

The hike takes 30 to 60 minutes, organizers said.

At 1 p.m. there will be an orientation at the site, where there will be tarps and a fire.

“Our presence at the camp, which is on undisputed property, is legal. We do not anticipate there will be construction activity that day,” the organizers of the open house say.

There has been some weekend work at the site but construction is tapering off for the winter.

“From the camp you can see the crane path through the trees; if you cross to the disputed property you can obtain a better view of the construction site, although there may be law enforcement on the disputed property.”

Opponents have walked on the crane path on several Sundays throughout the construction season without being disturbed, they reported on their blog, lowellmountainnews.

Six protesters intentionally went on the crane path during the workweek back in December to block construction, and were arrested and charged with trespassing. No one has been arrested during a weekend visit to the site, but they have been followed and photographed by security officials employed by GMP or its contractors, according to the group’s blog.

The “disputed property” is a stretch of the ridgeline where several turbine sites have been constructed. The property is owned by Trip Wileman and leased by Green Mountain Power, the developer of the wind project.

The neighbors who have hosted the camp, Don and Shirley Nelson, claim that they own the disputed property. That claim is being fought in court.

After the site visit, guides will help participants back down the mountain and carpool them back to the school for the formal question-and-answer session from 3 to 5 p.m.

Anyone with questions should contact Anne Morse at amorse@sterlingcollege.edu or at 802-281-4432.