The Vermont Supreme Court dismissed challenges Friday to the construction of an industrial wind project on Lowell Mountain.
The 21-turbine Kingdom Community Wind project, developed by Green Mountain Power, is due to come on line in December.
The Supreme Court decision upholds the project’s certificate of public good, granted last year by the Public Service Board, which determined that overall, the wind farm’s benefits outweighed its negative impacts – and hewed to state energy and economic policies.
The Board was correct in finding the project “consistent with the expressed intent of the Legislature, would help meet the region’s need for renewable energy, provide an economic benefit to the state in the form of jobs and tax revenues, and provide GMP and VEC (Vermont Electric Cooperative) with a long-term source of stably priced power,” wrote Chief Justice Paul Reiber in his lengthy majority opinion.
Appeals filed by the towns of Albany and Craftsbury and Lowell Mountains Group Inc. claimed the project ignored or departed from plans to minimize environmental disruption.
The Supreme Court agreed with the board’s finding that the project would have some “adverse effects,” but not “undue adverse effects” – those that might justify its halt or delay.
Kingdom Community’s certificate of public good included conditions that required GMP to reduce habitat fragmentation, noise and erosion; to complete remediation during and after construction and to create conservation easements.
In a partial dissent to the decision, Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Zonay wrote that the appellants were justified in requesting further review of agreements made between GMP and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
Lowell residents overwhelmingly approved the project in a March 1010 vote.
Up close and in parts, the scale of the project – particularly the sweeping, aeronautical expanse of those blades – reflects its ambition.
Each tower stands about 400 feet above the ridgeline. Together, they have a 64-megawatt capacity, and are expected to generate enough electricity for about 24,000 homes.
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