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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.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. vanessa permalink
    May 6, 2014 11:05 pm

    Having hiked Lowell Mountain to witness the destruction/construction; having stood in the Nelsons’ yard, sensing their frustration & loss, speaking with them around the lump in my throat; having listened to much live and recorded testimony by Shirley Nelson; having followed the story of Chris Braithwaite and of the Occupiers; having stood in Montpelier with the Nelsons and other Vermonters who believe in doing renewables in a way that doesn’t threaten the very things it proposes to save & who believe in standing up for the value of one’s own land and one’s own home; I find this very bittersweet, to say the least.

    To put it mildly, I know it was no easy process for Don &Shirley Nelson to come through. They’ve endured so much in fighting for their health, their property rights and their home and their dreams for their family.

    For GMP to now concede…… this IS an admission of wrongdoing on their part. And appropriately so. It is the very least that should be happening for the Nelsons. I wish them the very best from here, and I wish them some peace after all that befell them as abutters of Powell’s Folly on Lowell.

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