STAFF WRITER | December 28,2014
maybe a better one.
After living in the shadow of the 16 industrial turbines at the Sheffield wind site near
their modest year-round home, a former camp that has been in Steve’s family since the
1970s, the family has been relocated with help from supporters of the anti-wind cause to
a mobile home in Derby.
Over the last three years since the turbines went online, the Therriens — the poster family
for the wind movement — say they have been feeling sicker.
The new home came with a to-do list that some worried might not be ready by winter:
heat, electricity, a refrigerator, front steps and skirting to keep out the cold winter air.
Just a few days ago, with Christmas within days, the family suffered a vehicle fire that
destroyed their van. As a result, they lost their young children’s car seats. A vehicle and
car seats were added to their list of necessities.
The fire was not arson, Luann said, but the Vermont State Police still investigated. The
family has enemies because of its continued, public outcry — including testifying at the
State House — about how the wind project has impacted their health and the health of
their children, Seager, 5, and Baily, who turns 3 next month.
People are upset, Luann said. They hear it often and with a certain reciprocity of vigor.
The owners of the wind project, First Wind of Boston, have not helped the Therriens.
Help has come from many of the family’s supporters — from people in Sheffield to the
Danby-based Vermonters for a Clean Environment.
VCE executive director Annette Smith dipped into inheritance funds her parents left her
to purchase the used trailer for the couple, saying she feared for the Therriens’ lives while
trying to survive another winter on the mountain.
“This family was out of time,” she said.
At the home in Sheffield earlier last week, Luann was in good spirits, grateful her family
was moving on. But she said she was sad to be walking away from the quiet life the
Therriens had enjoyed on their 50-acre property before the wind project came along.
Even on the market, no one has come to see the property up for sale.
While their land is near the interstate, Luann said “it’s nowhere near the same as dealing
with the turbines. We would sit outside and have bonfires all the time and I’d be out
playing with Seager (before the turbines). … I haven’t even wanted to be outside (since
they went up).”
Ironically, the couple’s home was off the grid. They were not opposed when talk of a big
wind project started in Sheffield.
“We thought, ‘It’s wind, how bad can it be?’” Luann said of how wind dovetailed with
their existing principles.
When a petition against the wind project circulated, “all my friends were signing it, so I
said, ‘OK, I’ll sign it.’” But that was the only protest the couple made at that time — a
They were not concerned. “We didn’t go to any rallies. We didn’t go to any meetings … I
knew nothing about wind turbines before all this started. Now, I could write a book,” she
Until Dec. 22, they lived less than a mile from one of the turbines, within a mile of five
more. Each of the 16 turbines are 420 feet in height and within two miles of their home.
“We’re the only full-time resident this close,” Luann said, noting most of the other
dwellings in that range are camps. They never imagined they would be able to see or hear
them. They were wrong, she said.
Ultimately, with VCE’s help, the Therriens’ former home will be turned into a motel of
sorts. Guests will be educated on the effects of living near an industrial wind project site,
“We are going to set it up as the First Wind Motel, that is our plan, and people can come
up and experience it firsthand,” said Luann. A minimum stay of several nights will be
required so the experience is meaningful, said Smith, adding that the same idea is being
discussed near a wind project in another state.
Smith said, “Someone will be staying at the house in Sheffield after the Therrien family
The family has sought help from the town of Sheffield, which takes in more than a halfmillion
dollars in payments for hosting the wind project each year for 20 years, and from
First Wind. The Therriens had been hoping for financial help to relocate, but none has
Officials at the town and state say tests required by the state Public Service Board, which
approved the wind project, show the industrial project is well within noise standards
established for its operation. They dispute the Therriens’ claims.
“The Sheffield project has undergone extensive sound testing by private and state experts
and it has been deemed to be in compliance with state regulations,” said John
Lamontagne, spokesman for First Wind in Boston. “We wish the Therriens well in their
Luann said First Wind offered them $45,000 for the two acres their home sits on as well
as a non-disclosure agreement.
“We still think they should buy us out,” she said. “We’re abandoning our land. We’ve
gone into major debt so we can get out of here.”
Had to go
Luann said she remembers the first time she realized the turbines were not going to be
good neighbors. It was October, 2011, and they had put up with months of construction
on their road and not said anything.
“It was right off … I know it was a foggy morning, and Steve got up to go to work and he
stepped outside, and he was like, ‘Oh my God, this is not good, they are so loud.’”
Steve Therrien, a former truck mechanic driver who had a garbage route in the Barre area
but now has trouble feeling well enough to drive said, “We gotta just move forward. We
can only help ourselves at this point.”
“I cannot tell from day to day how I’m going to feel, and how do you look at your
employer and say, ‘I am going to be two hours late … it’s nerve-wracking to drive,” he
Of having to move, he said they had no choice.
In a letter sent to state officials Dec. 1, Smith will receive rent from the state on the trailer
she bought as the family is on public assistance and unable to work due to their health
Dr. Sandy Reider, a Northeast Kingdom doctor who has gone on record voicing concerns
about the effects of wind, testified to the health of the couple.
“I have seen both Steve and Luann Therrien in my office for complaints that are most
certainly related to living in close proximity to the Sheffield wind development,” Reider
said. “… Because I have seen several others that have been similarly affected since these
industrial wind projects have come online, I have had a crash course in the effects of
sound (including infrasound) on health.”
Reider has testified before many state panels, citing the connection between the turbines
and human health effects.
“In my opinion, the Therrien family needs to abandon their current home and move, as
there is no other way to mitigate the adverse health effects they are suffering from living
so close to these industrial turbines,” he stated, before they did move.
“It has to be done for my kids and my family,” Steve said of the family’s move to Derby.
“It’s a good thing, with everybody that’s been behind us.”
The Therriens moved into their new home earlier this month. With it, they hope, a new
A new hope
Steve said his mother gave them the lot on which they put the trailer.
The support from friends in Sheffield and other wind project families, as well as VCE, “It
really picks our spirits up.”
The trailer they found was $15,000, more than they had hoped, but is in good condition
and everything works. Friends dropped by with beds and even a wreath for the door.
Others donated the skirting and paid for the power; someone else paid for the steps, while
another supporter brought a sofa, another brought a stuffed chair. The home came
together quickly and with a great sense of community.
“The last thing I ever wanted for them was to have to live in a trailer,” Smith said of the
Therriens. “The right thing to have done would have been for First Wind to have bought
them out and for them to be able to buy a home of their choosing … We’re doing this for
dirt cheap, and it’s nothing for First Wind to be proud of, it’s nothing for this (state)
administration to be proud of. This is a family who has been completely thrown away by
our state government whose policies put them in this position, and with everyone in the
highest level of government knowing about their situation … These two small children
and their parents have had their lives destroyed.”
But this holiday season, Steve said he is counting his blessings.
“We’re blessed. … It’s still sad that the state won’t step in and make these companies
accountable for their damages. … I would say when you do business you take care of your
damages, and that is your main priority. … We slipped through the cracks.”
Green Mountain Power To Pay The Nelsons in Dispute Settlement Over Property Impacted by the KCW Lowell Wind Project
Lowell Wind Project:GMP Buys Out Don And Shirley Nelson In Lawsuit Settlement
LOWELL — Green Mountain Power will buy Don and Shirley Nelson’s Lowell farm for $1.3 million as part of an out-of-court settlement of dueling lawsuits over property, damages and trespassing.
GMP and the Nelsons announced the settlement early Monday morning in separate statements. The deal ends a court battle that has been percolating in Orleans Superior Court in Newport City since GMP began blasting rock for the mountaintop wind project three years ago.
The settlement allows Don and Shirley Nelson to live on the 540-acre farm near Albany for two years. They also retain ownership of 35 acres of property in Albany. They plan to move away from proximity to the turbines.
The Nelsons accused GMP of damaging their mountainside property and trespassing. They challenged GMP over ownership of some of the land where the 21 turbines stand. They also sued mountain property owner Trip Wileman of Lowell, who has leased the property to GMP for the 21 industrial-sized wind turbines.
The lawsuit against Wileman was dropped as well in the settlement, Wileman said.
GMP fought back with counterclaims, also asserting damages. A judge issued a temporary restraining order allowing GMP to continue blasting and telling the Nelsons to stop encouraging protesters from going from their property to the wind site. But that order in 2011 did not resolve the larger claims of ownership of part of the wind site.
During the protests and the beginning of the court battle, GMP had offered to buy the farm for $1 million, the listing price. The Nelsons rejected the offer, demanding $2 million instead.
PART 6 features a segment on the Lowell Wind project. A Q&A will follow the screening on Thursday night.
Merchant’s Hall, Rutland, Vermont
Join us in Rutland for screenings of parts 4, 5, and 6.
Tickets for this event are $8. Students with valid I.D. $5 @ the door.
Merchant’s Hall, Rutland, Vermont
40 and 42 Merchants Row, Rutland, VT 05701, USA map
Part 4- October 23rd @ 7:00 PM (Purchase Tickets)
Part 5- October 24th @ 5:45 PM (Purchase Tickets)
Part 6- October 24th @ 8:30 PM (Purchase Tickets)
Part Four, Doers and Shapers
Part Four explores the people and institutions that push boundaries. Starting with education, we take an engrossing journey through the philosophy of John Dewey, leading to the hands-on style of Goddard College, the Putney School, and the inseparable connection between education and democracy. We explore other progressive movements: Vermont’s famous Billboard law and Act 250, cultural movements such as Bread and Puppet Theater and finally Vermont’s groundbreaking civil union law. Democracy at work—differing voices, different points of view.
Part Five – Ceres’ Children
Part Five takes a deeper look at some of Vermont’s cherished traditions: participatory democracy and the conservation ethic, from the ideas of George Perkins Marsh, one of America’s first environmentalists, to contemporary volunteer groups and activist movements. The film captures 21st century debates over natural resources, then circles back in time to show how these concerns originate in the ethics of farmers, who depended on the natural world for their survival. The disappearance of dairy farms has raised a tough question: how big is too big? How can Vermont survive in a world economy? Can Vermont be a model for small, local and self-sufficient farming?
Part Six – People’s Power
Part Six tackles contemporary tensions over energy, independence, the environment and the state’s future. Chronicling the struggle to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, it reveals the power of protest, the influence of lobbyists and the importance of town meeting debate and a citizen legislature. It follows the battle over windmills in Lowell—a struggle over scale, aesthetics and environmental impacts—and explores thorny questions about economics, sovereignty and climate change. Finally, the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irene reveal the power not only of nature, but of people and community.
Visit http://www.peakkeepers.org for links to videos of their Roundtable Discussions about Vermont’s mountain ecosystems and the importance of these to our state and beyond. Learn from esteemed educators, authors, and experts about Vermont’s mountains, in a series of informative videos. And pass this on!