Lowell Project Continues

LOWELL – Last week the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) issued a stop work order against Green Mountain Power (GMP) on the Lowell Mountain wind project due to issues that arose with storm water runoff.The stop work order was for building on the road, not other work, said a spokesperson with GMP Monday. Work is continuing on creating storm water management.According to Dotty Schnure, the construction got ahead of itself and the implementation of the storm water management fell slightly behind. Now work is underway to compete that work, Schnure said.The problems became evident after a recent heavy rainfall. Rocks were put in place to filter runoff, however that proved to be inadequate. Some silt was found in an area where it was not supposed to be. Six places over a mile stretch of road experienced overflow, and some water carried silt down the road and deposited it along the way.“These were fairly serious violations of the storm water permit, particularly the storm water control and the discharge of sediment,” David Mears, Commissioner of the Environmental Conservation under the ANR, was quoted as saying in a recent Associated Press article.Schnure said the road work will continue once the ANR and GMP feel that the problem is corrected and an adequate system is in place to handle storm water correctly. Schnure said the goal is to have the system working perfectly to protect the environment. A storm water system that includes level spreaders is being installed.Some people thought that work was to stop completely, which wasn’t the case, Schnure said. People will continue to see and hear work being done on the mountain.GMP is working on building a road up to the ridgeline to install 21 industrial size wind turbines. The road will be used to bring the 450 foot turbines to the top of the mountain.GMP is moving forward with construction despite appeals of the state-issued storm water permits. ”This recent stop work order is a validation of the concerns of the appellants on this matter, who should be provided with due process before the damage is irreversible,” said Geoffrey Goll with Princeton Hydro. Goll has spoke out against the wind turbine project and storm water control methods being used by GMP. He calls level spreaders experimental, but GMP refers to them as an alternative method and says they are the best way to handle storm water runoff.This is the second environmental violation that has come to light since the project began. The first was improper tree cutting and filling in of wetlands.GMP is working to have the turbines constructed and generating power by the end of 2012 in order to qualify for $42-million in federal production tax credits.