ALEXANDRIA — Though Iberdrola Renewables hasn’t filed an application for the project yet with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, the company has signed a 15-year agreement to sell power from its proposed Wild Meadows wind farm to a group of Massachusetts utilities.
The agreement will benefit Massachusetts’ Renewable Energy Portfolio and its electricity customers, though there are questions about its value to New Hampshire.
Iberdrola, a Spain-based wind power giant, announced the agreement on Thursday, saying the deal would help “consolidate New Hampshire as a leader in meeting New England’s renewable power needs.”
But New Hampshire Wind Watch president Lori Lerner sees it differently.
“Why should New Hampshire residents be expected to sacrifice our economy and quality of life to help Massachusetts meet its Renewable Portfolio Standards goal?” said Lerner.
“Clearly, the politics within Massachusetts are driving the desire for these wind projects,” she said. “As a result, it seems Massachusetts is looking to other states to host the industrial wind turbines for their benefit.”
The Wild Meadows project, one of three Iberdrola wind farms in the state, would erect a 37-tower array of towers on a 6,000-acre parcel that the company has leased from landowners in Alexandria, Danbury and Grafton. The lighted, 40-story turbine towers would be placed along ridgelines near Newfound Lake and Cardigan Mountain.
The project has drawn heavy criticism from area residents and groups. Many residents said the towers will ruin the pristine views around the lake, and damage the area’s tourist industry in the process.
According to the agreement, the Massachusetts utilities — National Grid, Northeast Utilities, and Unitil Corporation — would buy 565 megawatts of electricity from six wind farms in Maine and New Hampshire, enough to power an estimated 170,000 homes.
Iberdrola’s Ed Cherian said the agreement benefits everyone, including New Hampshire residents, by providing clean energy to New England.
“We are pleased to continue investing in New Hampshire, a state helping to lead the clean energy economy,” Cherian said. “Wild Meadows could serve as a significant new source of renewable power, and also generate new revenue for the towns and the state.”
Opponents of Wild Meadows aren’t buying it.
“We need to ask, what about New Hampshire’s clean, wild places? What about New Hampshire residents’ health, quality of life and sense of place?” Lerner said. “If Massachusetts is interested in pursuing renewable energy through wind projects, why don’t they site the projects in their state?”