LOWELL – A crowd of about 50 protesters engaged Green Mountain Power (GMP) workers and police on Lowell Mountain Monday morning. Six were eventually arrested.
Protesters were on the mountain around 5 a.m. and then walked out onto the crane path at about 6:45 when the first trucks were seen.
Construction trucks were held up for about four hours until police arrived. Most protesters chose to leave then, but not all did.
The protesters arrested are Keith Bellek, 56, Sheffield; Carol Irons, 71, Albany; Meredith Jones, 63, East Albany; Dennis Liddy, 64; Westfield, William Roddy, 66, Irasburg; and Raymond Micklon, 50, Craftsbury.
Protesters are opposed to the industrial size wind turbine construction project underway by Green Mountain Power. Many activists have said protests are to draw attention and awareness.
The protesters danced, sang, held up signs and played music in front on the construction vehicles, on land that is part of a property dispute between Trip Wileman and Don and Shirley Nelson.
The Nelsons say part of the project actually sits on their property, while Wileman, who is leasing the land to GMP, disagrees. The issue remains unresolved in civil court.
Six other protesters were already arrested on the mountain at the same location in early December, along with a journalist who was covering the protest. The protesters are scheduled for jury trial beginning August 15.
Protesters also stepped in front of a truck carrying turbine parts a few weeks ago, before the truck could turn in to the construction site. Two were taken into custody and then released following a negotiation with police. The two arrested are facing disorderly conduct charges.
Two students were arrested last year for entering a safety zone during a schedule blast time. Charges against those students were dropped.
A funereal for the Lowell Mountains is planned today by the Mountain Occupiers. According to a press release, the public is invited to “come and join in a funeral procession up to the top of the Lowell Mountains” at 9 a.m. “Wear black and bring flowers or whatever else you feel is appropriate for a funeral.”
One protester on the mountain Monday, Giselle Chevallay of Newark, said “Our actions on the crane path were both civil and safe.”
Will Young was also on the mountain Monday. “I’m fed up with what is happening and their disregard to the community,” Young said in an interview.
Young grew up in Vermont and his family was off the electric grid but had their own small windmill. Young says he opposes the destruction of the environment from industrial scale projects. He says it’s not green energy when you say you’re saving the earth but destroying an ecosystem in the process.
He supports public education on energy issues and allowing the public to have the most powerful say on energy decisions.
Lowell residents voted in favor of the project by a large margin prior to the process. However, Young says surrounding communities should have had a say as well as these towns are impacted more than Lowell in some ways yet have little benefit.
The towns of Albany and Craftsbury sought and received intervener status, but it was a very difficult process for the public to participate in, Young said. “It’s a system set up to permit projects.” he said.
Dorothy Schnure, the corporate spokesperson for GMP, issued a statement regarding protesters at the Kingdom Community Wind site, which read: “It is regrettable that a small group has once again resorted to illegal actions. Their presence on the construction site creates a safety hazard, adds cost for our customers, and strains finite law enforcement resources in the area, putting local towns and citizens at risk. It was found to be in the public good after extensive review and with active participation by opponents to the project. We hope that all citizens of Vermont will respect the laws of the State of Vermont.”
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