Aug. 20, 2012
Announce Their Determination to Continue Advocacy for Vermont’s Mountains and Ridgelines
NEWPORT, VT – Wednesday in Orleans County Criminal Court a jury found the “Lowell Six,” guilty on charges of trespassing at the Lowell wind project site on December 5th, 2011. In brief comments following the verdict, the group said they would continue their work to help Vermonters understand the failure of ridgeline wind to alleviate climate change or to provide inexpensive and reliable electrical energy.
“We are obviously disappointed with the verdict but respect the jury’s efforts. This is, and will continue to be, a complex case that rejects the simple and disingenuous offerings of Green Mountain Power. We will continue to educate Vermonters on the science and math of ridgeline wind-generated electricity,” said Ron Holland, 67, of Irasburg.
In December of 2011, protestors of the Lowell wind project blocked GMP personnel and construction vehicles on land currently the subject of an ownership dispute between project developer Green Mountain Power and Don and Shirley Nelson, neighbors of the project. Six protestors were arrested and charged with trespass. The protestors maintained they were not on GMP’s leased land, that they were on neighboring property, which GMP illegally blasted away for the ridgeline road. They also objected to the environmental damage of the project, its lack of helpful effect on climate change and the expensive electricity it would sell to ratepayers.
“We are disappointed with the verdict and will continue our work. Taking a neighbor’s property and tearing apart mountains is a terrible way to address the effects of climate change or generate electricity,” said David Rogers, 69, of Craftsbury.
Ryan Gillard, 23, of Plainfield said, “This issue will continue to reverberate across Vermont. Of course we must respond to existing climate change. Of course we must have reliable sources of electricity. Ridgeline wind provides neither. Protecting our life-giving mountains must be our first task. Vermonters are smart enough to figure this out.”
Protestor Eric Wallace-Senft, 46, of Wolcott, said, “Simply put, this is about whether or not one neighbor can take and then tear apart the property of another in the name of climate change action and electrical generation. We believe Vermonters will reject that approach.”
Commenting on why she would continue to work against ridgeline wind, activist Suzanna Jones, 50, of Walden said, “The broader struggle is about how Vermonters choose to live on the landscape without damaging it for future generations. Our effort, given the destruction of the Lowell Mountains, is about the remaining ridgelines and mountains of Vermont. Trading our most important economic asset for high priced electricity and ineffective carbon emissions reduction is a horrendous mistake.”
Finally, Anne Morse, 48, of Craftsbury added, “It is important that Vermonters learn the truth about industrial wind and demand change from the legislature. If any Vermonter supports our cause, we welcome them to join us in our effort to bring about effective strategies against existing climate change while protecting our landscape. As our voice grows, the stronger we become!”
Lowell Wind Project Facts:
• Vermont ratepayers will pay as much as $350 million dollars in above market prices for electricity generated over the life of the Lowell wind project. GMP has decimated an intact ecosystem that is irreparable, nonrenewable, and priceless.
• Green Mountain Power and its parent company, Gaz Metro, will receive a guaranteed 9% return on investment on the project, which may amount to more than $180 million dollars from ratepayers’ pockets.
• The Vermont Public Service Board, rather than take the time to require proof of ownership of the disputed property, chose to accommodate GMP’s rush to capture $47 million dollars in production tax credits from US taxpayers’ pockets. That hurry-up approach led—we believe—to GMP taking control of land they do not have a legal right to use.
• Vermont statutes require new utility projects to be cost-effective. Project costs must include economic and environmental values. The project must also be part of the utility’s least cost plan. There is no credible cost-effectiveness analysis for the Lowell project, no consideration of the environmental costs of alternatives and there is no documentation that Green Mountain Power’s resource plan is least cost.
• Not one employee of the Department of Public Service, whose job is to protect the public’s interest, spoke in support of the Nelson’s interest in the disputed property.
• Last November, GMP gained control of a 1000 foot wide section of the Nelsons’ land in order to blast a ridgeline road on the disputed property. The Nelsons received no compensation for this taking.
• During the Lowell wind project’s Public Service Board process, Governor Shumlin and Mary Powell, CEO of GMP, gave a joint press conference extolling the project’s “benefits.” Peter Shumlin, at the opening ceremony for the Sheffield Wind project, directly linked last summer’s flooding to global climate change. That may well be. He claimed that ridgeline wind projects reduce CO2 emissions and mitigate climate change. Gov. Shumlin’s latter comments represent either profound ignorance or dishonesty. (See last two bullets.)
• Current legislative policies that allowed construction of this project were written in the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee under the leadership of Robert Dostis. The same Robert Dostis is now on the payroll of Green Mountain Power as the senior spokesman for the Lowell project. The current House Majority Leader, Lucy Leriche, was recently hired by GMP as Community Relations Director.
• Ridgeline wind in Vermont requires massive destruction of precious natural resources and has no climate benefit. Sale of a project’s renewable attributes in the form of “renewable energy credits” (RECs) allows the polluters who buy the credits to keep polluting. There is no emissions reduction. Vermonters are, in effect, paying a premium (in the case of the Lowell project, $350 M) for essentially “brown” power. This is what the Public Service Board is permitting, and the Governor is touting as “public good.” The only ones benefiting from this arrangement are the investors.
• An efficient and cost-effective emissions-reduction strategy attacks emissions at their source. 96% of Vermont’s emissions–the lowest in the nation per capita–come from four sources: transportation, heating (buildings and water), commercial/industrial processes and agriculture. Electric generation is responsible for 4% of Vermont’s C02 emissions. Attempting to reduce emissions from electric generation with wind-generated electricity is the most expensive per ton of carbon reduction (if there is any at all) and provides ratepayers and taxpayers with the poorest return on their investment.