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Rutland Herald: ‘This family was out of time’ : Sheffield family resettled with help

January 17, 2015
http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20141228/
NEWS 01/712289931
‘This family was out of time’: Sheffield family resettled with help
By Amy ASH Nixon
STAFF WRITER | December 28,2014
(John Dillon / VPR Photo)
.therriensThe Therrien family outside their former Sheffield home in 2013.
Luann and Steve Therrien had a busier Christmas than most people this year — and
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.
Transition
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
signature.
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
said.
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.
Open house
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,
said Smith.
“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
leaves.”
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
come.
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
new home.”
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
said.
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
issues.
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
start.
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.”
amy.nixon@timesargus.com

Green Mountain Power To Pay The Nelsons in Dispute Settlement Over Property Impacted by the KCW Lowell Wind Project

April 15, 2014
4/15/2014
Wind Opponents Call The Nelsons Heroes, Predict More Buyouts
Robin Smith
Staff Writer
ImageDon and Shirley Nelson
Wind opponents from across Vermont reacted to the settlement between Green Mountain Power and Don and Shirley Nelson of Lowell on Monday, calling them heroes.
They said they hope the buyout could spur more as the state begins to realize that industrial wind projects have an impact on human neighbors and they vowed to continue fighting them.
Luann Therrien of Sheffield, who also lives near industrial wind turbines, said she cried for joy when she heard the news that the Nelsons had struck a deal and would be paid for their property.
“We are so thrilled for them. We are so excited that they can get out and get healthy,” she said.
Her husband Steve said he had been to the Nelsons’ farm and understood their experience. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be there another day,” he said.
Therrien said he hoped that this settlement creates a pathway for others who are experiencing health impacts.
They have tried for years to get First Wind to purchase their property.


 

Steve Wright of Craftsbury, president of Ridge Protectors, said the Nelsons had the Vermont dream, until they were forced from their land by a foreign-owned corporation.
“Yes, they were paid for that property, but money runs a poor second to beauty, peace, quiet and a love for your land.
“Don and Shirley are heroes. They represent the long-held Vermont values that live on in the struggle for an energy policy we know is possible, one that doesn’t drive people from their homes, damage their health, and wither hope.
“The Nelsons are not the only ones forced off their land; already, at least three other families near the Lowell project have experienced a similar fate. More are expected,” Wright said.
Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment said her group supports the Nelsons’ decision to agree to a settlement.
“At the same time, we and many others in the community know that they have been damaged by Green Mountain Power far beyond what any monetary settlement could provide,” Smith stated.
“Any time a utility has to buy out a neighbor, it is not a ‘win’ for the corporation.”
“We expect this is just the beginning of litigation and settlements … ,” Smith stated.
“We at Energize Vermont are saddened that the Kingdom Community Wind tragedy has driven Don and Shirley Nelson from their home,” executive director Mark Whitworth of Newark said.
GMP’s settlement “represents just the latest in the series of unanticipated costs” from the wind project that will be passed on to consumers “who are weary of hearing about the cost-effectiveness of wind-generated electricity,” Whitworth stated.
Neighbors are being hurt, Wright said, even though industrial wind projects have “no effective climate change benefit.”
“Industrial wind technology does not work on the New England landscape and the Lowell Project, in spite of GMP’s claims, is clear proof,” he said.
“Complicit in this sad tale is the Shumlin administration, aided and abetted by the so-called ‘environmental’ community. Together, they continue to advance statewide energy policy that even the Public Service Board acknowledges worsens Vermont’s carbon footprint,” Wright stated.
“The negative impacts of the Lowell turbines are far greater than Green Mountain Power has disclosed and the benefits to society that they promised will never be realized,” Whitworth stated.
“The turbines will have no impact on global climate change. Their damage to the land is permanent,” Whitworth stated.
“Wind energy generation is simply inappropriate for Vermont,” Smith stated.
“It does not live up to the promises of ‘free fuel,’ but instead comes at tremendous and unaccounted-for costs. The harm done to the Nelson’s property which now has no value in the real estate market, to Don and Shirley’s health and quality of life which is degraded on a daily basis, and to the wildlife, water resources and landscape are evidence that big wind turbines have no place in Vermont,” Smith stated.
The Nelsons will remain “a symbol to the rest of Vermont” of the sacrifices demanded of those who are forced to live near wind turbines. “In the end, we believe the Lowell wind turbines must come down,” Smith said.
“The Nelsons are not the only Vermonters who have suffered ill health and financial damage because of industrial wind turbines,” Whitworth stated.
“We call upon Green Mountain Power, First Wind, and Georgia Mountain Community Wind to make reparations to the other Vermont victims of their industrial wind projects.
Steve Therrien said he has asked First Wind three times to buy them out.
They have tried to find an attorney who would work for free to help them sue the developer but have not been successful.
 
4/15/2014
Lowell Wind Project:GMP Buys Out Don And Shirley Nelson In Lawsuit Settlement
 

Robin Smith
Staff Writer

ImageThree of the turbines sited behind the Nelson’s home

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.


 

The utility also tried to broker a deal involving Vermont Land Trust and farmers who wanted to buy the property, but that fell through when the Nelsons realized that GMP was participating with funding behind the scenes.
The Nelsons, with the personal and financial support of those who opposed the wind project, battled the wind project planners in hearings before the state utility regulators on the Public Service Board and in the court of public opinion as well as in civil court.
In their statement they said they thought they would prevail in court but that would not stop the turbines from operating.
They thanked all their supporters.
Shirley Nelson in particular has participated in hearings over a handful of noise violations early in the operation of the turbines. She has testified that her health has been affected by the turbines.
GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure stated that the purchase of the property is part of the mutual agreement which meets the needs of the Nelsons and the customers of the state’s largest utility.
“We are pleased to announce that GMP has reached agreement with Don and Shirley Nelson to settle all pending claims,” Schnure said in GMP’s short statement on the settlement.
Before the turbines were erected, GMP bought out another neighbor who lived on the southwest side of the mountain range.
In their statement, the Nelsons said that “if they had fought the court battle to the end and prevailed — as they were confident they would have — they would not have been able to reverse the effects on Lowell Mountain or cause the towers to be removed from the mountain top.
“They would have received, at best, money damages comparable to what they achieved through settlement but only after a major courtroom battle with the possibility of appeals and with no certainty as to the outcome …,” according to the Nelsons’ statement.
“Once the turbines were built, it was clear that they were not coming down and the effect on Lowell Mountain was irreversible,” the Nelsons stated.
“They made the decision that they would not remain in their Lowell Mountain hill farm in the shadow of the turbines. The Nelsons intend to move from their farm to a location well away from the turbines.”
The Nelsons stated that GMP has agreed it will not oppose “post- conviction relief sought by the citizen protesters who were convicted of trespass for standing on land that the Nelsons claim is theirs. Green Mountain Power acknowledged that the legal status and title to the land was in dispute.”
Several groups of protesters have been found guilty of trespassing on the wind project site on land that was in dispute in the court case.
“The Nelsons have been fierce opponents of the Green Mountain Power wind turbine project because of its impact on Lowell Mountain, a mountain that Don Nelson grew up with and that both Nelsons dearly love,” the Nelsons stated. The Nelson farm has been in the Nelson family for more than 72 years.
“The Nelsons expressed their gratitude to their many friends and neighbors who have battled with them to oppose the construction of wind turbines on Lowell Mountain.”
Schnure referred to GMP’s statement when asked questions about the settlement and whether GMP has bought out anyone else near the wind project.
GMP revealed little of the agreement in its statement, except the purchase of the Nelson property.
“The agreement meets the needs of the Nelsons as well as those of our customers,” Schnure stated.
“Kingdom Community Wind is an important part of our growing investment in renewable energy in Vermont. It is an ongoing priority for us to deliver clean, cost-effective, renewable energy to customers including wind, solar, and hydro-electricity.
“Vermonters place a high value on the competitively-priced, low carbon energy developed at the site. Kingdom Community Wind is a critical part of that effort to ensure a clean-energy future in Vermont, and since 2012, the project has generated enough electricity to power more than 24,000 homes,” Schnure stated.
“We believe that this settlement represents an opportunity for both to move forward and we are pleased to have reached agreement,” she concluded.

IT’S OVER

February 7, 2014

IT’S OVER!!!!!

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More Landowners Terminate Easements for Grandpas Knob Wind

February 7, 2014

Click on link below to read the recently-signed termination agreements

Pittsford Termination of Easements

West Rutland Termination of Easements

Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie’s Barnstorming Tour

October 22, 2013

PART 6 features a segment on the Lowell Wind project.  A Q&A will follow the screening on Thursday night.

Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie’s Barnstorming Tour

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.

http://www.flynntix.org/Productions/Details.aspx?perfNo=10344&perfCodePrefix=OPG14U

A reminder: Lowell Mountain Open House

August 29, 2013

mtntop-open-house-poster1

Introducing: PEAK KEEPERS of Vermont’s Mountains

August 12, 2013

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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!

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