It was a good
old-fashioned hoedown. The problem is Green Mountain Power got stuck footing
the bill. The dancers and musicians are actually protestors. They call themselves
Mountain Occupiers and they're outraged by the utility's construction of 21
turbines across the Lowell ridgeline.
"This does nothing to
help climate change," said Ron Holland, a protester. "This is an
illusion that you're doing something green."
Holland and about four
dozen others hiked up the backside of the mountain before dawn, formed a human
blockade across the crane path and successfully shut down the jobsite for half
the day. The protestors claim the land was stolen from local farmers, but GMP
says it's legally leasing the 26 acres. Power company officials say they've
followed permitting procedures and are frustrated.
"They've made their
case, but in the end the regulators decided that this project was in the public
good. They don't like the answer, the outcome, but we went through the
democratic process of getting this thing permitted," said Robert Dostis of
Some opponents are so
concerned about industrial wind's environmental impacts that they're willing to
sacrifice their freedom.
"They told us they
wanted to be arrested," Vt. State Police Capt. Tim Clouatre said.
But in this made-for-TV
protest, the peaceful opponents also wanted to make sure the cameras were
"You can go up and
get your shots with them. They want to get some pictures," Clouatre said.
destructive," said Keith Ballek, a protester. "It's out of control
and I think this is taking a stand not just for Lowell, but for a town near
you, a mountain near you, where this is coming next."
Police from five counties
were on hand for the show. Preparing for the worst-- while leaving other parts
of the state unprotected.
"We can't come up
here with two people to face a crowd of 50 on the top of a mountain and not
have backup close by," Clouatre said.
After the trespass
warning, most of the protestors retreated to the woods where they cheered for
the six who left in handcuffs.
The four-hour standoff
will cost GMP tens of thousands of dollars, but officials say it won't stop the
project. Two turbines are already in place.
If all goes as planned the
first six turbines will be up, spinning and producing power by the end of the
Police say all six
protestors arrested were over the age of 50. They were cited for unlawful
trespass and released.
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