This Week: Lowell Protests, Solar Call, Land Use Debate & More – 10/28/11

Oct 28, 2011 No Comments by

It seemed like the debate over utility-scale wind in Vermont reached a new level this week. In Lowell on Tuesday GMP and the Nelsons were back in court. The judge continued the restraining order on their land, but it appears didn’t give law enforcement everything they felt they needed to make arrests at the site. On Wednesday protesters and campers were at the site, and GMP admitted that they prevented blasting at the siteWCAX andVTDigger also had good coverage of the events this week. There are great photos from the protests at the Lowell Mountain News site. Word from the campsite was that folks willing to get arrested would do so in the name of the things getting blasted, for instance, “high quality water, habitat connectivity, and climate change adaption.” The judge’s decision on the disputed land matters and the Nelson’s request for their own restraining order against GMP is expected Tuesday. The Caledonian-Record published an editorial worth reading on this case. Also, we posted some photos of the recent construction at the site. If you are interested in contributing to the Nelson’s legal defense fund, please mail a check to the following address:

Hershenson, Carter, Scott & McGee
Shirley and Donald Nelson Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 909
Norwich, VT 05055
Put “Shirley and Donald Nelson Legal Defense Fund” in the Memo line.


As if that wasn’t enough wind related controversy, the Sheffield project ribbon cutting also happened this week. That event offered some choice quotes from politicians, but also drew out opposition. About 40 protesters held signs and waved at everyone entering and leaving the site during the event. News also came out that there were some questions on exactly how much money the town would receive, and how it would be spent. Also, the recent controversy over wind spilled over into the energy plan discussion this week. The plan suggests potentially lifting the moratorium on using public lands for wind developments. However, the Green Mountain Club’s Will Wiquist came out and strongly opposed this concept, leading to quotes from Tony Klein and others agreeing it would be a bad idea.

All this wind news led to a bunch of opinions. David Van Deuse of the Vermont Sierra Club offered a VTDigger opinion piece arguing that Vermont’s pending renewable energy projects need to directly benefit Vermont’s economy. Several unions and environmental groups agreed with this stance. Ron Holland called out Governor Shumlin and our state’s energy policy for its failure to directly address climate change instead of just paying lip-service with wind projects. 

In direct contrast to this debate, several events this week made it clear solar is poised to continue growing as a renewable energy solution in the state. Acorn Energy Coop launched their 150kw community solar project in Middlebury, and we hosted a conference call with the five community solar projects around the state. You can learn more about the projects and the concept in the minutes from the call. The call was great because everyone on the call was committed to doing renewable energy while benefiting communities, not while asking them to sacrifice. I also appeared on Positively Vermont talking about the benefits of the community solar model. Lastly, the Bennington Banner ran an article talking about how solar power is beginning to go mainstream.

I’d say this week was actually a very positive week for renewable energy in Vermont, but likely for different reasons than the politicians in Sheffield. I’d say it was positive because the events in Sheffield, Lowell, and Middlebury, all make it clear there are a growing number of Vermonters out there that are working hard to bring responsible renewable energy to this state. They are the same Vermonters that understand among other things that we need to BOTH preserve our environment and attract businesses if we are going to strengthen our economy and our communities for our future (and our children’s future.) 

Have a great weekend and keep fighting for renewable energy done right,

Luke

Oct 28, 2011 01:45 pm | alina

Reposted from the Newport Daily Express.   BY CHRISTOPHER ROY NEWPORT, VT – In a continuation of last week’s battle between Don and Shirley Nelson and Green Mountain Power (GMP), attorneys for the parties examined and cross-examined a number of witnesses Tuesday, including two local surveyors, Paul Hannon and Norbert Blais. Don Nelson is arguing …

 

Oct 28, 2011 01:45 pm | alina

Reposted from Caledonian-Record.   LOWELL — Protesters are stopping or hindering the blast schedule at the Lowell wind project — so far without any attempt by law enforcement to stop it, despite a court order. Green Mountain Power officials say that blasting scheduled for Wednesday did not occur because protesters were standing in the 1,000-foot …

 

Oct 28, 2011 01:45 pm | alina

Reposted from Newport Daily Express.   BY JENN HANLON EAST BURKE, VT – On the same day that two other local controversial wind projects were front and center in the media statewide, a small ceremony marked the installation of a 123-foot tall wind turbine at the top of Burke Mountain. There were no protesters, although …

 

Oct 28, 2011 01:45 pm | alina

Reposted from VT Digger. Green Mountain Club Challenges State Proposal to Open Public Lands to Wind Development WATERBURY CENTER, Vt., October 27 – The Green Mountain Club today called on state energy planners to take a step back from a proposal to potentially open state lands to wind development.   In comments on the state’s …

 

Oct 28, 2011 01:43 pm | alina

Reposted from Vermont Public Radio. (Host) The Shumlin Administration says the state should consider lifting a moratorium on wind development on public land. The recommendation is contained in a draft state energy plan, and it’s drawing fire from environmental groups. VPR’s John Dillon has more: (Dillon) The Green Mountain Club is a 10,000 member organization …

 

Oct 27, 2011 05:30 pm | alina

This week’s Barton Chronicle included coverage of the Lowell Campers and the Sheffield Ribbon Cutting as well as several letters to the editor. Download the relavant sections here.

 

Oct 27, 2011 05:14 pm | EV

The following documents have been submitted in the Lowell PSB case: PSB Memo on Noise Plan Technical Hearing

 

Oct 27, 2011 05:07 pm | EV

Reposted here from WAMC. SHEFFIELD, VT (WAMC) – First Wind and other officials, including Vermont Governor Peter Schumlin, celebrated the end of the eight-year process to plan and build the Sheffield Wind Farm. The wind wasn’t blowing and the blades were barely turning during the ribbon cutting, but the 40 megawatt, 16-turbine project is capable …

 

Oct 27, 2011 01:15 pm | alina

Reposted from Burlington Free Press.   SHEFFIELD — Years after engineers eyed Sheffield Heights as a possible location for a commercial wind farm and developers submitted the first state permit, 16 commercial wind turbines are feeding power to Vermont’s electric grid from a wind farm in the Northeast Kingdom. Before construction began about a year …

 

Oct 27, 2011 01:15 pm | alina

Reposted from Caledonian-Record. Amy Ash Nixon Staff Writer   SHEFFIELD — The opening of the largest active industrial-scale wind project in Vermont was celebrated Wednesday by Gov. Peter Shumlin and other state officials. First Wind’s wind farm consists of 16 400+foot high wind turbines, which are now operational. By Tuesday night they were powering at …

 

Oct 27, 2011 01:15 pm | alina

Reposted from Times Argus. Where are these Vermonters who “overwhelmingly support” the wind tower project in Lowell as quoted by Dorothy Schnure of Green Mountain Power in The Newport Daily Express? Where are the Vermonters who are saying “yes” to big business demolishing 200 miles of ridgeline in our state as they have done in …

 

Oct 27, 2011 01:15 pm | alina

Reposted from WCAX.com.   There’s a showdown brewing over wind power in Vermont. Ira Powsner and those with him aren’t out for a day hike. They’re a part of a movement of what some at base camp have dubbed, “Occupy Lowell Mountain.” They climb about 900 vertical feet several days a week to protest Green …

 

Oct 27, 2011 01:15 pm | alina

Reposted from WCAX.com.   Wind turbines have been in the works for the ridgeline in Sheffield for close to a decade and as of Wednesday they are officially online. Sixteen new wind turbines line the ridgeline in Sheffield. The towers have been eight years and 100-million dollars in the making. Wednesday Governor Shumlin (D-Vt) joined …

 

Oct 26, 2011 05:41 pm | alina

Reposted from the Caledonian-Record.   Last week Green Mountain Power threatened a million dollar lawsuit against elderly farmers, Don and Shirley Nelson. The Canadian power company also secured a restraining order to limit how the Nelsons can use on their own land. GMP is taking legal action to prevent the Nelsons from hosting campers who …

 

Oct 26, 2011 05:41 pm | alina

Reposted from Burlington Free Press.   After a daylong court hearing Tuesday, Orleans Superior Court Judge Martin Maley continued a temporary restraining order requiring protesters to stay at least 1,000 feet from blasting at the construction site of a Green Mountain Power Corp. wind project in Lowell pending his upcoming ruling in the case. Maley …

 

Oct 26, 2011 05:41 pm | alina

Reposted from VT Digger.   NEWPORT — Are Don and Shirley Nelson and the activists atop Lowell Mountain a nuisance, or is Green Mountain Power a trespasser? Those were the legal alternatives set before Judge Martin Maley as a two-day hearing wrapped up late Tuesday afternoon in the civil division of Orleans Superior Court. Maley …

 

Oct 26, 2011 03:14 pm | alina

Reposted from the Caledonian-Record.   NEWPORT CITY — The Orleans County sheriff and Vermont State Police said Tuesday that a judge’s order last week didn’t provide the legal basis to arrest protesters at the Lowell wind site. Sheriff Kirk Martin and Lt. Kirk Cooper, head of the state police barracks in Derby, appeared in Orleans …

 

Oct 26, 2011 03:14 pm | alina

Reposted form Vermont Tiger.   by Jack McMullen   Back in the 1960s when the first Public Interest Research Group was established in Washington, DC by Ralph Nader and into the 1970s and 1980s when the movement spread to college campuses around the country, these organizations really did fulfill their stated mission of representing the …

 

Oct 26, 2011 03:13 pm | alina

Reposted from The Huffington Post.   On Sept. 28 2011, while Occupy Wall Street entered it’s second week of high-profile coverage for their occupation of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, an occupation of a very different kind began taking place in Lowell, VT. Those occupying the ‘blast zone’ on Lowell Mountain, have adopted code names …

 

Oct 25, 2011 04:17 pm | EV

The following pictures were taken during the week of 10/17/11 at the Lowell Mountain wind project construction site.

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