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December 23. 2013 8:17PM

Danbury is polling voters on Wild Meadows wind project

DANBURY — Danbury is polling voters by mail to see if they support the Wild Meadows wind farm project or oppose having wind turbines in town.

The town vote will be taken into account by the state's Site Evaluation Committee, which in the process of permitting the proposed 75.9-megawatt, 23-turbine project on private land in Danbury and Alexandria.

The vote will not be binding, as the SEC has the authority to permit the project. The company proposing to build the plant, Iberdrola Renewables, the Spanish energy company headquartered in Portland, Ore., submitted an application to the SEC to build the wind farm in Danbury and Alexandria on Dec. 13. Iberdrola officials say they have secured leases for the project with local landowners.

But the vote will speak for the town.

"Whatever the people decide will be the position of the town of Danbury," said Board of Selectmen Chairman Jim Phelps.

The proposed project calls for building 15 wind towers in Danbury and eight in Alexandria. Company officials say it will produce enough clean energy to power approximately 30,000 average homes each year and 90,000 homes at peak production, with the energy going to the regional power grid.

Company officials have estimated economic benefits will include first year payments of $695,000 to Danbury, $370,000 to Alexandria, up to $565,000 for New Hampshire's general revenue fund and $280,000 to local landowners.

Ongoing annual payments to the towns would start at approximately $545,000 to Danbury and $325,000 to Alexandria, with 2.5 percent annual increases.

Residents in neighboring towns voted by substantial margins against the Iberdrola proposal and new wind farm projects in their towns last March. Danbury, which has heard the overtures of Iberdrola and a citizens' group opposing the proposal, New Hampshire Wind Watch, is taking its own poll now.

"With due respect to all involved, we don't need an outside group representing us; we are very capable of speaking for ourselves," Phelps said.

The town has sent a cover letter and a ballot to every registered voter in Danbury. Voters are asked to indicate their support of or opposition to the project and to return ballots by Jan. 2. The ballots will be counted at the Jan. 8 selectmen's meeting.

The cover letter explains the project and the financial aspects and gives website addresses to the Iberdrola pages explaining the project and to other relevant pages.

dseufert@gmail.com


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