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Lowell voters face new wind articles  

Credit:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 28 February 2012 ~~

LOWELL – Voters here face several wind power-related articles on the town meeting ballots, but none would have any real effect on the town – unlike the question about the asbestos mine and Superfund.

One has been presented by the supporters of the Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell, while another opposes the project.

A third article goes in a different direction – proposing that Lowell voters support the idea of “micro” renewable power – where every home and business generates its own electricity.

Wind power has dominated conversation in Lowell in recent years, but this year, the big question is about Superfund.

Article 5 about Superfund asks Lowell voters if they want to pursue listing the closed asbestos mine on the federal Superfund site. If Eden and Lowell vote yes next week, Gov. Peter Shumlin will ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Superfund designation and clean up for the mine site.

Selectman and moderator Alden Warner says that the three wind-related articles may generate conversation at town meeting next Tuesday, but the votes on each question won’t have any binding impact on the select board or the town.

The town of Lowell has a contract with Green Mountain Power, the developer of the Lowell wind project called Kingdom Community Wind, for annual payments of more than a half-million dollars while the wind project operates. GMP wants to have the project’s 21 turbines up and generating electricity by the end of 2012 to receive federal production tax credits.

GMP still has conditions to meet as part of the certificate of public good it received from state utility regulators for the project. That includes appeal hearings in May on plans to conserve hundreds of acres in mitigation for the project.

If GMP succeeds with all permits and the turbines are online before the end of 2012, Lowell could begin to receive some income from the wind project this year.

But Warner said the town has not built a budget to reflect any revenues from the turbines. He expects that the town would begin to look at how to use the wind revenue as part of preparation of the 2013 budget later in the year.

He said he didn’t know how voters would react to the three different wind power articles. The traditional floor meeting is March 6 beginning at 10 a.m. at the school.

For And Against

Article 6 on the ballot asks voters to show support for the wind project and “send a message to the opponents of Kingdom Community Wind that their tactics to misrepresent the facts about the project are not appreciated, and that the town has every confidence that the payment as agreed to by GMP and the town will be paid in full as outlined in the agreement and as stipulated in the certificate of public good issued by the Public Service Board.”

The article also says that the opponents’ tactics serve only to cause delay to the project and to increase power costs.

Article 8 asks the voters of Lowell to “express their opposition to the GMP and VELCO wind project …”

The article lists a series of complaints about the wind project, describing environmental damage that “threatens to turn the town into a slum town” with depressed real estate rates.

The article also says that GMP might not pay the town what was promised.

VT Free Power

Article 7 asks Lowell voters to support a concept of home-generated micro wind and solar power with the help of VT Free Power. The non-profit company was established Feb. 10 by Edward, Brenda and Kevin Wesolow of Lowell and is listed on the Vermont Secretary of State website.

They propose to tap into state and federal grants to help homeowners and businesses install home-based renewable wind or solar equipment that would cut electricity bills by a half or more for each home or business.

VT Free Power needs support from the town to seek the grants.

On its website vtfreepower.org, VT Free Power’s principals envision “a world where all the rural communities are powered by their own systems” and says this concept must start in Lowell.

Source:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 28 February 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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