(Host) The state Agency of Natural Resources has sided with the developers of a Northeast Kingdom wind project in their request for more time to protect wildlife areas.
Last month, Green Mountain Power won approval to construct 21 turbines along the Lowell Mountain ridgeline.
But the Public Service Board said the utility had to obtain conservation easements for wildlife corridors before construction begins.
GMP wants to start work in August and asked the board to extend the deadline for the land deals. The state of Natural Resources has agreed. Jon Groveman is the agency’s general counsel. He says the wildlife corridors that would be conserved will not be affected by project construction.
(Groveman) "What we’re saying is that those parcels are not developed now. If the construction started today, they still would not be developed."
(Host) But project opponents say the state is wrong to accept GMP’s argument. Jared Margolis represents the towns of Craftsbury and Albany. He says the PSB was clear that the easements should be in place to protect wildlife before tree clearing and road-building takes place on the ridgeline.
(Margolis) "I’m just very surprised that the Agency of Natural Resources is trying to help Green Mountain Power to circumvent that condition just because they can’t get these easements prior to the date that they want to start construction."
(Host) The Agency of Natural Resources says the deadline should be extended to the end of the year. It says the board should require GMP to stop work on December 31st if it has failed to obtain the conservation easements.