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Lowell: Voters send a message to big wind opponents  

Credit:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 7 March 2012 ~~

LOWELL – A majority of Lowell voters Tuesday sent a message to opponents of the Lowell wind project, approving an article that says delaying tactics “are not appreciated.”

And outspokenly pro-wind incumbents survived challenges from those opposed to the wind project being constructed on Lowell Mountain.

Long-time incumbent Selectman Richard Pion survived a challenge from Lee Kittell for a new three-year term on the select board.

The select board guided the town to a contract with Green Mountain Power that would bring in more than a half-million dollars in tax payments annually when the 21 proposed large wind turbines go online. They have supported the wind project, as did a large majority of voters here in 2010.

Kittell said he had nothing personal against Pion. But he decided it was time to run for office.

“Some people are not happy with the select board decisions in the last few years,” Kittell said.

In a paper ballot, one of many Tuesday, Pion received 75 votes to 56 for Kittell.

Also surviving a challenge from wind opponent Gordon Spencer was incumbent delinquent tax collector Pam Tetreault.

In a paper ballot, Tetreault received 95 votes to Spencer’s 33.

The article professing support for the contract that Lowell has with GMP, telling opponents that delaying tactics will only increase electricity costs, was one of three about wind energy on the ballot.

Voters weighed in on the pro-wind article only after an attempt was made to pass over the article – a move that came before a motion was even made to consider it.

That required a two-thirds majority to pass over it – which failed by a vote of 64 in favor of passing over the article to 55 opposed. Moderator Alden Warner, who is also a selectman, said that voters needed 79 votes in favor to pass in that circumstance.

The article was later approved by voice vote.

Warner said the select board did not have to put the article on the ballot, saying that opinion came from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns – after the warning was already completed.

Spencer said the article – which says that the town is confident that GMP will make the payments as agreed to in the contract – shouldn’t be considered.

The Lowell wind project is still being appealed on water quality and connectivity easements, he said.

And state regulators put conditions on the project that haven’t all been met, he said.

Telling fellow residents to be quiet about it “is pretty juvenile. This is just a ridiculous article,” Spencer said.

Another article lamenting the work being done on the ridgeline was passed over by a voice vote.

The third article about wind energy asked voters to give town support to a non-profit group called Vermont Free Power, which wanted to use grants to launch a program to help area homeowners install micro-wind and solar panels and pay for the investment over time from the savings in electricity bills.

That article generated interested discussion. Ed Wesolow, a member of the non-profit company, said that he needed town support to seek grants.

Voters also passed over that article by voice vote. Wesolow said he would continue to pursue the concept.

In other business, the town supported funding the school budget of $1.47 million and set aside $500 toward the 200-year anniversary party of the town this summer.

Source:  Robin Smith, Staff Writer, The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 7 March 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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