1 dead in accident at Deerfield Wind site

(Editor’s note: This story by Derek Carson was published in the Bennington Banner on April 19, 2017.)

SEARSBURG — One man is dead after the crane he was operating came into contact with high tension power lines at the Deerfield Wind project.

David Sprague, 59, of Windham, Maine, was pronounced dead at the scene on Putnam Road shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to state police. An autopsy will be performed by the office of the chief medical examiner.

The wind project, which will include 15 new turbines in Searsburg and Readsboro as well as over five miles of new roads, is being overseen by developer Avangrid Renewables of Oregon. The civil contractor for the project is Reed and Reed Inc. of Woolwich, Maine. A representative from Reed and Reed said that the company was aware of an incident but would give no further comment, including whether Sprague was an employee of the company. A representative for Avangrid declined to comment.

A representative from Green Mountain Power confirmed that they were asked to turn off the power to the area, and described the situation as “dynamic.” As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 30 GMP customers in Searsburg remained without power.

The Vermont State Police were assisted on scene by Wilmington Fire Department, Bennington Fire Department and Deerfield Valley Rescue, as well as the Bennington Rescue Squad.

Ground broke on the project, the first of its kind on National Forest land, in September, a month after the Vermont Public Service Board approved a conservation plan for the project, amending a certificate of public good granted in 2009. The event featured a speech from then-Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Avangrid has said the 30-megawatt project will produce enough energy annually to power 14,000 Vermont homes.

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