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By Samuel R. Avro on Jan 8, 2009 with no responses

Lehman Brothers Collapse Hurts Vermont Wind Farm

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The economic downturn resulting with the failure of some of the nation’s largest investment banks, has stuck a thorn in the plans of some renewable energy companies.

Noble's wind energy park in Ellenburg, NY.

Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power working to install a wind-power project in Vermont is shutting its Rutland office, but the project manager says his company is not ready to give up.

The company was forced to lay off workers in New York and stopped work at two wind farms in that state after the failure of Lehman Brothers, one of its chief backers, strained financing on their projects.

“We are in the process of packing up and moving right now,” said Brad King, the local project manager at Grandpa’s Knob in Castleton, Vt., adding that the office would likely be closed down by the end of the week.

Two meteorological towers were erected in the area early last year, measuring wind speed, wind direction and temperature at the site.

“Though the poor economic outlook prevents us from speculating on our 2009 development plans, we will continue to evaluate the financial markets and the Grandpa’s Knob Windpark,” CEO Walter Howard was quoted in a company press release. “Noble firmly believes that the State of Vermont’s good wind resources and tradition of environmental stewardship hold great opportunity for future wind development and construction.”

Officials in the involved towns contacted Tuesday expressed disappointment, according to the Rutland Herald.

“We were looking forward to working with Noble and seeing what they could do with the town,” Castleton Town Manager Charles Jacien said.

Nearby Pittsford Town Manager John Haverstock was quoted by the paper saying “”I guess I’m discouraged that any business would feel the need to narrow its operations because of the economic times we’re living through.

Haverstock said that he hopes the incoming Obama administration would provide the much needed stimulus for renewable energy companies like Noble.

Energy magnate T. Boone Pickens, the creator of the Pickens Plan which advocates for America to decrease its dependence on foreign oil by investing in renewable energy, recently criticized the government for not understanding the need to invest in alternative energy solutions.

“The leadership in Washington has never understood energy,” Pickens told an audience gathered at Rice University in Houston to discuss his plan this week.

“Waiting for the free market can be disastrous,” he said. That’s why he’s seeking financing from the federal government. “We have got to get this in the first 100 days if we don’t get it in the stimulus package.”