Protest blocks highway at Vt. wind project site

LOWELL, Vt. (AP) — Two anti-wind power activists were arrested Monday during what organizers said was a spontaneous decision to block delivery of a section of a wind turbine tower to the Lowell Mountain construction site that ended up blocking Route 100 for two hours.

The highway was reopened and the two men, taken to court to answer disorderly conduct charges, were released by police, said Steve Wright of Craftsbury, one of the leaders of what had been intended to be a demonstration against the 21-turbine wind-power project that is under construction.

Dozens of sheriff's deputies and state police were called to the scene after the road was blocked.

"There were some tense moments," Wright said. "The state police were extremely helpful and cordial, if you can use these words in this situation. There are some frustrated people who feel they haven't been listened to on this issue."

The protesters object to the construction of the project by Green Mountain Power. They claim the project is damaging the ridgeline for limited environmental benefit.

GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure, who was in Lowell during the protest, called the situation "really unfortunate." Green Mountain Power is a unit of Northern New England Energy Corp., which is owned by Gaz Metro.

She said state officials studied the project for years and determined it was for the public good. She said the project has widespread support.

Wright said the anti-wind power movement would work with groups across the state to ask the Legislature to change the way wind projects are approved. He said they would like officials who approve the projects to take into account the value of the mountains.

Construction on the Lowell project is due to be finished by the end of the year.