Wind opponents from across Vermont reacted to the settlement between Green Mountain Power and Don and Shirley Nelson of Lowell on Monday, calling them heroes.
They said they hope the buyout could spur more as the state begins to realize that industrial wind projects have an impact on human neighbors and they vowed to continue fighting them.
Luann Therrien of Sheffield, who also lives near industrial wind turbines, said she cried for joy when she heard the news that the Nelsons had struck a deal and would be paid for their property.
“We are so thrilled for them. We are so excited that they can get out and get healthy,” she said.
Her husband Steve said he had been to the Nelsons’ farm and understood their experience. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be there another day,” he said.
Therrien said he hoped that this settlement creates a pathway for others who are experiencing health impacts.
They have tried for years to get First Wind to purchase their property.
Steve Wright of Craftsbury, president of Ridge Protectors, said the Nelsons had the Vermont dream, until they were forced from their land by a foreign-owned corporation.
“Yes, they were paid for that property, but money runs a poor second to beauty, peace, quiet and a love for your land.
“Don and Shirley are heroes. They represent the long-held Vermont values that live on in the struggle for an energy policy we know is possible, one that doesn’t drive people from their homes, damage their health, and wither hope.
“The Nelsons are not the only ones forced off their land; already, at least three other families near the Lowell project have experienced a similar fate. More are expected,” Wright said.
Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment said her group supports the Nelsons’ decision to agree to a settlement.
“At the same time, we and many others in the community know that they have been damaged by Green Mountain Power far beyond what any monetary settlement could provide,” Smith stated.
“Any time a utility has to buy out a neighbor, it is not a ‘win’ for the corporation.”
“We expect this is just the beginning of litigation and settlements … ,” Smith stated.
“We at Energize Vermont are saddened that the Kingdom Community Wind tragedy has driven Don and Shirley Nelson from their home,” executive director Mark Whitworth of Newark said.
GMP’s settlement “represents just the latest in the series of unanticipated costs” from the wind project that will be passed on to consumers “who are weary of hearing about the cost-effectiveness of wind-generated electricity,” Whitworth stated.
Neighbors are being hurt, Wright said, even though industrial wind projects have “no effective climate change benefit.”
“Industrial wind technology does not work on the New England landscape and the Lowell Project, in spite of GMP’s claims, is clear proof,” he said.
“Complicit in this sad tale is the Shumlin administration, aided and abetted by the so-called ‘environmental’ community. Together, they continue to advance statewide energy policy that even the Public Service Board acknowledges worsens Vermont’s carbon footprint,” Wright stated.
“The negative impacts of the Lowell turbines are far greater than Green Mountain Power has disclosed and the benefits to society that they promised will never be realized,” Whitworth stated.
“The turbines will have no impact on global climate change. Their damage to the land is permanent,” Whitworth stated.
“Wind energy generation is simply inappropriate for Vermont,” Smith stated.
“It does not live up to the promises of ‘free fuel,’ but instead comes at tremendous and unaccounted-for costs. The harm done to the Nelson’s property which now has no value in the real estate market, to Don and Shirley’s health and quality of life which is degraded on a daily basis, and to the wildlife, water resources and landscape are evidence that big wind turbines have no place in Vermont,” Smith stated.
The Nelsons will remain “a symbol to the rest of Vermont” of the sacrifices demanded of those who are forced to live near wind turbines. “In the end, we believe the Lowell wind turbines must come down,” Smith said.
“The Nelsons are not the only Vermonters who have suffered ill health and financial damage because of industrial wind turbines,” Whitworth stated.
“We call upon Green Mountain Power, First Wind, and Georgia Mountain Community Wind to make reparations to the other Vermont victims of their industrial wind projects.
Steve Therrien said he has asked First Wind three times to buy them out.
They have tried to find an attorney who would work for free to help them sue the developer but have not been successful.
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