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Turbine trucks rolling today, protests planned

ORLEANS COUNTY- The delivery of wind turbine sections to the Lowell Mountain wind site is underway.

This is a key milestone for the construction of Green Mountain Power’s wind turbine project on Lowell Mountain. The 21 industrial sized turbines’ components are being transported via more than 100 trucks.

An oversized load rolled through Island Pond, Charleston, and Derby Friday before continuing on through Irasburg and to Lowell. Other deliveries are also heading to Lowell following a different route from Albany, NY.

Today, six truckloads are scheduled to come from Island Pond to Derby, and then to Lowell. Trucking will continue through early September.

“We’re excited to begin construction of the turbines after months of project planning and site preparation,” said GMP spokesperson Dorothy Schnure.

Protesters are gearing up to demonstrate today beginning at 9 a.m. across from the entrance to the construction site along Route 100. Bread and Puppet Theater performers are expected. Protesters also announced that some are planning to follow the trucks along the route.

“The rally is another in a growing number of opposition actions around the state aimed at wind developers with their eye on Vermont’s mountains. The problems with ridgeline wind aren’t going away. A growing number of Vermonters are saying no to this disrespect and devastation of communities and ecosystems when we have cheaper and less destructive renewable generation alternatives,” a press release from the opponent group, Mountain Occupiers, states.

Mountain Occupiers allege the trucks are committing transport violations, which they reported to the state police, however Commander Kirk Cooper, of the Derby barracks, was unavailable for comment Sunday. The violation alleges a truckload was driving after hours.

The permit from Department of Motor Vehicles states that the trucks cannot be driven during the busiest hours, which are between 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., between noon and 1 p.m., and between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Dotty Schnure, the corporate spokesperson for GMP, said that it is up to the police escort to determine once the truck is in route, and it is getting late in the day, if it is safe to continue or not.

“We defer to the police to make the best decisions for public safety,” Schnure said in an interview Sunday.

The oversized truck loads are required by the DMV to have a police escort with flashing lights. The permit also requires that the trucks pull over to the first safe haven available in inclement weather and wait for the storm to clear.

Meanwhile, the project moves forward and GMP expects the project to be generating power by the end of the year. More work than expected was completed during the winter months due to the mild weather conditions.

The project, although supported by a majority of Lowell residents, has created much controversy.

Several people, including a North Country Hospital Doctor and a college professor, were arrested while protesting the wind turbine project. Local journalist Chris Braithwaite of the Chronicle was also arrested covering a protest, but has a different attorney and a different argument than the protesters.

The cases continue in court.

To learn about the protests, go to http://lowellmountainsnews.wordpress.com/ .