MONTPELIER (AP) - The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is holding a hearing on Green Mountain Power's request to allow its wind power project on Lowell Mountain to kill up to four bats a year.

The utility says it would have to stop its turbines from spinning at night for six months to a year to eliminate any risk to the little brown bats known to fly on the mountain.

Idling the turbines would cost the utility about $4 million a year in reduced power output.

The request comes as bat populations in the Northeast have been decimated by a fungal disease called white nose syndrome.

The draft permit says GMP will pay $18,000 a year to protect other bat colonies. The permit would still protect rare bats.