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November 30. 2012 1:15AM

Bridgewater officials state?opposition to wind project

BRIDGEWATER - Selectmen have formally declared their opposition to the Wild Meadows Wind Power Project, a proposed 37-turbine project along area ridges that the board says "endangers the financial foundation" of the tourism industry in the Newfound Lake-Mount Cardigan region.

The selectmen's announcement is in step with the Newfound Lake Region Association, which announced its opposition to the project last week, citing the "potential adverse impact on the region's natural, social and economic resources."

Iberdrola Renewables, which built the state's first large commercial wind farm in Lempster, has leased the 6,000 acres it needs for the project from landowners in the three towns involved - Grafton, Alexandria and Danbury. The company wants to erect 400-foot turbine towers to generate energy. Each tower would be lighted at night.

Opponents of the project are worried that a large number of four-story towers along the ridgelines would ruin the beautiful views in the area and drop property values. Iberdrola officials say the towers would only be visible to boaters in the middle of the lake, as they are several miles away from the lake's waters.

The project would benefit the three towns financially, as company officials say they will offer each a financial package similar to what they are paying Groton residents for a smaller wind farm project there that will go online next month.

Groton selectmen accepted a 15-year agreement with the company that will pay the town $528,000 - roughly equivalent to the most recent town budget - in the first year. Each of that project's 24 wind turbines will net the town $22,000 in the years that follow. Selectmen in the three towns involved have not taken a public stance on the project, which will likely not be built for another year as the government permitting process is lengthy.

The company does not need permits from the towns, as power is regulated at higher government levels, but company officials have assured the towns that they will have input during the permit process.

Bridgewater has no land directly involved in the project, and will get no financial gain from the company. But about half of the east side of Newfound Lake lies within the town, with a view to the area where the towers will stand.

Selectmen Maurice Jenness Jr., Terence Murphy, and Henry Woolner decided they had to take a stand, fearing their town could lose tourism income.

"While we support the concept of sustainable energy, the board of selectmen opposes additional construction of wind turbines in the Newfound area," the selectmen said in a joint statement. "The new Groton wind farm is sufficient, and further clustering on the ridge adjacent to Cardigan Mountain is unwise and unnecessary.áTourism is the major economic engine of this area and the proposed project endangers that financial foundation. . The proposed wind farm has the potential for more harm than good."

The board also declared its opposition to the Northern Pass project, saying the situation is similar to the wind project in that there is little or no local control.

"Towns are preempted in having a direct say in these matters," the board said in its statement.



dseufert@newstote.com


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