Cohocton Wind Watch: Vermont utility warns protesters about cost of delays
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vermont utility warns protesters about cost of delays

MONTPELIER — The Green Mountain Power utility said Wednesday it's ready to hold a couple financially responsible for the costs of delays in construction of a major wind power project if protesters camped on their land within a blasting safety zone don't get out of the way.

GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said the utility was cleared Wednesday to resume work on the Kingdom Community Wind project on Lowell Mountain after changes had been made to construction procedures to protect stormwater. Construction of the road to the top of the mountain is expected to resume Thursday.

But the effort to build the 21-turbine project was further clouded Wednesday after the owners of a farm that adjoins the Lowell wind project rejected an offer to sell their property to GMP.

Schnure said GMP had offered to pay Don and Shirley Nelson $1.25 million for the 600-acre farm in Lowell, a small town in the northern part of the state. She said the Nelsons rejected the offer and raised their asking price by $1 million.

Meanwhile, the utility threatened to hold the Nelsons responsible for the costs of any delays caused by project opponents camping on their land within the range of debris that could be spread by blasting needed to build the road.

Schnure said that if the protesters were to leave their campsites for 15 minutes several times a day they would be out of the range.

"If they delay us, there are costs involved," she said. "Our customers should not have to pay those costs when it's very simple for them to move. We have told them that if they do not have their people move we will ask the court to hold them responsible for the costs of the delay. That could very quickly run into a million dollars or more."

The Nelsons did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press seeking comment Wednesday.

But a friend of the Nelsons, Annette Smith, an outspoken critic of large-scale wind projects, called GMP's actions, "extortion."

"Why are they threatening some already victimized downtrodden people?" she said. "Now what's happening is Green Mountain Power has put a gun to their heads."

GMP's $156 million wind power project is due to be completed by the end of next year and could meet the annual electrical needs of more than 20,000 households — about 50,000 residents. It has drawn vigorous opposition from some neighbors and environmentalists, whose concerns include its effects on wildlife, noise from the turbines and marring unspoiled mountain vistas.

Last month the Nelsons invited campers opposed to the Lowell wind project to pitch tents 100 feet from their property line and well within the safety zone surrounding where some of the blasting will occur.

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