State utility regulators have approved Green Mountain Power’s plan to ship turbine parts by rail to Island Pond and then by truck to Lowell Mountain.
The Vermont Department of Public Service supported the idea of using rail to get the parts to the Northeast Kingdom rather than relying on Interstate routes.
“According to GMP, the proposed changes set forth in the revised plan will reduce transport on Vermont roads by approximately 17,000 miles for truck traffic and more than 60,000 miles for escort traffic,” according to Chairman James Volz of the Vermont Public Service Board, who approved the new plan Thursday.
GMP is still making the rounds of select boards in the towns on the truck route.
Last week, GMP officials Dave Coriell and Lowell wind project manager Charles Pughe told the Derby Select Board that 126 truck loads would begin to roll across Orleans County during the week of July 16.
They expect four to five loads a day during the work week that would continue through the middle of September. They will coordinate with local schools to avoid bus times and also with local factories like Ethan Allen in Orleans to avoid shift change rush hour. The loads cannot move on holidays, weekends or in the evening.
They have met with Barton, Brighton, Charleston and Derby selectmen. They are meeting this week with the Irasburg select board. They planned to contact Derby Line Fire Chief Craig Ellam to keep him up to date about the load times so he could plan alternative routes if the department is called out to a fire during a turbine part delivery.
Derby Line Fire Department provides coverage for neighboring towns.
In the original plan, GMP would have had the turbine tower sections and blades shipped to Bellows Falls in southern Vermont and then trucked north on I-91 to the Orleans exit and then west on Route 58 through Irasburg, over the Lowell range and on to the wind project access road on Route 100 in Lowell.
Now, the parts will be trucked from a rail holding yard in Island Pond on Route 105, which is part of the northern east-west truck route in Vermont, through Charleston and Derby and then southbound on I-91 to the Orleans exit.
The tightest turn would be the on-ramp in Derby to I-91, officials said.
The department asked GMP to seek a rail delivery point closer to the project site to reduce the amount of truck traffic on Vermont roads during delivery, Volz noted.
GMP also changed its shipping of the nacelles and gear box for the 21 turbines headed for Lowell.
Originally, the plan was to have them shipped to the Ogdensburg, N.Y., port on the St. Lawrence River and then trucked to Vermont.
But there was a limited number of police escorts available in northern New York state and there is construction around the Rouses Point bridge, Volz said.
So the nacelles, hubs and gear box parts will be shipped to Albany, N.Y., and then trucked into Vermont.
The truck loads are not allowed to move in severe weather, so some load times would be affected.
GMP officials said they will notify towns about each day’s load times.
The loads must be spaced apart as well so as not to clog local traffic.
GMP has a certificate of public good for the Lowell wind project called Kingdom Community Wind.
Opponents are awaiting a Vermont Supreme Court decision on appeals over the project.
The turbines are scheduled to go online before the end of the year.
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