Protesters arrested at Lowell Mountain

Vt. Police Arrest 6 Blocking Wind Construction In Lowell

Monday, 08/06/12 1:15pm

VPR/John Dillon
A state police officer arrests Bill Roddy from Irasburg at Green Mountain Power’s wind project in Lowell.

Vermont police say six protesters have been arrested at the site of the Lowell mountain wind-power project.

The activists say volunteers Monday prevented construction workers and equipment from reaching the construction area along the top of the mountain.
The protesters believe the project is destroying a pristine ridgeline and has little environmental benefit.
The owner of the Lowell Mountain wind project, Green Mountain Power, issued a statement that called the activists’ actions “regrettable.”
GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure says the presence of the protester on the construction site creates a safety hazard, adds costs to the project and strains finite law enforcement resources in the area.
The utility says the 21-turbine project enjoys wide public support.


12:38 PM, Aug 6, 2012   |  Comments
 Written by Matt Ryan, Free Press Staff Writer

Vermont State Police have arrested six people who protested the construction of wind turbines atop Lowell Mountain by blocking access to the site.

“The other people (protesting) have moved from the crane path so they wouldn’t be arrested, but you know, we held up construction all morning,” Carrie Young, 26, of Westfield said at about 12:15 p.m. Monday. “Hopefully we’ve gotten the attention of the state, because that was our goal. We tried legal ways to stop the destruction of the mountain, and they haven’t worked.”

State Police spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro confirmed that officers arrested six people, and said she would release more information about the incident later today.

The protesters lined the path at about 7 a.m. to prevent workers and trucks from reaching Green Mountain Power’s wind-energy project.

“A whole line of trucks were up here, as many as 30 workers and nine trucks, and we blockaded them,” Keith Ballek, 56, of Sheffield said at about 8:30 a.m. “Another truck tried to squeeze through, and we blockaded him.”

Ballek estimated the protesters numbered about 30 at 8:45 a.m. He said they stood on “disputed property” that both a local couple and the utility claim to own.

“We’ve got a campfire going right in the middle of the path right now,” Ballek said. He said performers from The Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover were dancing and playing music to entertain the protesters.

Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure estimated the crowd to number roughly 20 at about 8:30 a.m.

“These are people who participated in the extensive legal process” that preceded construction, Schnure said. “They didn’t like the results, so now they’re resorting to illegal methods.”

The Vermont Public Service Board awarded the project a certificate of public good last year, following an overwhelming vote of approval by Lowell residents in March 2010. Green Mountain Power intends to build 21 wind turbines at the site.

Ballek said he felt the project was “railroaded” through the legal process.“The whole thing is just to call attention to this whole process,” Ballek said. “It’s just a mess.”

In a prepared statement sent to media at about 9:15 a.m., Schnure said the protesters “presence on the construction site creates a safety hazard, adds cost for our customers and strains finite law enforcement resources in the area, putting local towns and citizens at risk.”

Orleans County Sheriff Kirk Martin said his department, which recently had half its fleet of vehicles decimated allegedly by a man on a tractor, said at about 9 a.m. that his deputies were “all tied up,” and that the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department was checking in on the protest.

Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux, Jr., said his department was working with Vermont State Police, and deferred questions to them.

About 80 protesters briefly interrupted construction at the site last month by blocking Vermont 100 and delaying the delivery of turbine and tower parts.

Opponents of wind projects in Vermont say the construction disrupts mountaintop wildlife habitats and mars the landscape.