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Critics complain about lights on Lowell turbines

LOWELL – Wind power critics have complained to state regulators that Green Mountain Power hasn’t put up a radar lighting system on the Lowell wind turbines.

In a complaint filed last week, Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE) said that the certificate of public good for the Kingdom Community Wind Project’s 21 turbines included a requirement that GMP install what’s called the Obstacle Collision Avoidance System as soon as it is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This system would turn the red warning lights on nine of the 21 turbines on Lowell Mountain when a plane approaches, so the lights would not have to be on all the time.

VCE Executive Director Annette Smith states in the complaint that it’s been nearly seven years since the order allowing the turbines to go up and GMP has not presented its plans for the new system.

GMP bought land to host the tower that is needed for this system, VCE states.

Meanwhile, another wind project in Deerfield has an operational avoidance system.

The Vermont Public Utilities Commission opened a case file this week based on the complaint.

GMP officials responded to news about the complaint when alerted about it late Friday afternoon.

“Green Mountain Power is moving forward with the implementation of an Aircraft Detection Lighting System at Kingdom Community Wind,” spokesman Kristin Carlson stated.

“Our team remains focused on the project, and continues to work on project details daily.

“Green Mountain Power intends to implement the technology at Kingdom Community Wind in 2018 or 2019, pending permitting approval. We have been in contact with the community and regulators throughout this time, and look forward to updating them on progress,” Carlson stated.

Smith complained that GMP offered to install the avoidance system to ease concerns about the impact of the red warning lights on the very dark night sky in the Lowell Mountain area. The Green Mountain Club and local residents have complained to VCE about the red lights, she stated.

Smith asked the state commission to investigate why it’s taking GMP so long to comply with the order.