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March 26. 2014 8:00PM

Wind energy company cited for Groton violations

GROTON — A state fire marshal section chief has notified the state’s Site Evaluation Committee of 22 building and safety code violations at the 24-turbine Groton Wind facility.

The SEC issued a ruling in November warning wind energy company Iberdrola that the committee had received correspondence claiming that Iberdrola is “operating the facility … in violation of the terms and conditions of the certificate of site.”

If found to be in violation of the certificate or decision, the company’s operating certificate for the 48 megawatt plant may be suspended and/or revoked, Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack said in the order for hearings on the matter, a process which began earlier this month.

The SEC granted approval for the wind farm on May 6, 2011. But in subsequent inspections of the plant, Ronald D. Anstey, section chief and investigator with the state Fire Marshal’s Office, found that Iberdrola had violated state law several times.

The company did not file fire code and safety code plans with the fire marshal, failed to provide fire suppression at the turbines as required, and had not obtained proper state approval for its design and construction of the plant.

The plant owners are “occupying and operating the structures on site without inspection or approval and without an occupancy permit,” Anstey said in a letter to the SEC on Aug. 12.

Iberdrola officials said they filed the required permits with the Department of Environmental Services, as they claim was required in the permitting process, and claim they didn’t violate the process guidelines that were given to them.

In a letter to the SEC on Friday that was made public on Tuesday, Anstey said that as he reviewed the wind farm’s plans and site documentation on Jan. 24, he found 22 new violations.

Among them are a lack of smoke alarms throughout the facility; a flammable liquid storage cabinet inside the structure that is not externally vented as required by state law; and an exterior diesel fuel storage tank and pump that is not protected from vehicular damage.

Iberdrola officials say they are cooperating with the fire marshal.

“The fire marshal visited our Groton facility on Jan. 24 and provided us with a list of issues. We have been cooperating fully with the fire marshal, and the majority of his issues were taken care of very quickly. We are in the process of resolving all remaining issues and expect to complete our work in the near term.”

Anstey agreed, partially. “Since the beginning of 2014, there have been periods of cooperation, and representations that actions are being taken by the applicant to come into compliance with the codes. However, compliance has yet to be achieved,” Anstey wrote in his prehearing letter to the SEC on March 21.

dseufert@newstote.com


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