MONTPELIER -- A Vermont couple whose Northeast Kingdom farm became a focal point in the fight against construction of a 21-turbine industrial wind project on Lowell Mountain said Monday that they were selling their 540-acre farm to Green Mountain Power for $1.3 million.
In announcing they had agreed to settle a lawsuit over a boundary dispute filed against them by GMP, Don and Shirley Nelson said they felt they could have won in court, but it would not have led to the removal of the now-operating turbines.
Even if victorious in court, it’s doubtful they would have received more than the $1.3 million they will get for the sale of their property and the legal case could have lingered for years, the Nelsons said.
"The Nelsons intend to move from their farm to a location well away from the turbines," their statement said.
In a separate statement, GMP said the Nelsons will be able to remain in their home for up to two years and that they will retain 35 acres of land in Albany.
"The agreement meets the needs of the Nelsons as well as those of our customers," GMP said. "Kingdom Community Wind is an important part of our growing investment in renewable energy in Vermont."
The construction and operation of what has become the Kingdom Community Wind project generated fierce opposition from a number of people who claimed the project marred the pristine ridgeline for no environmental benefit.
The Nelsons were longtime opponents of the project.
The 2011 lawsuit grew out of a series of protests along the contested property line between the Nelsons’ land and the then-under-construction turbine site controlled by GMP. A number of protesters set up camp on land they claimed was owned by the Nelsons, but within a safety zone during construction blasting operations. The presence of the protesters caused brief delays in construction.
The Nelsons and GMP had disputed the property boundary of land GMP has under a long-term lease for the wind project. A trial had been tentatively scheduled for August.
In a separate statement, a group opposing the wind project called the Ridge Protectors said the Nelsons typify the Vermont dream of working hard, paying taxes and minding one’s own business.
"Now, we have to add, and be forced off your property by a foreign-owned corporation," the organization said, referring to the fact that GMP’s corporate parent is Canadian. "Yes, they were paid for that property, but money runs a poor second to beauty, peace, quiet and a love for your land."