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April 08. 2014 7:30PM

Alexandria support for wind farm not strong, officials say

ALEXANDRIA — The town’s three selectmen have notified the state’s Site Evaluation Committee that Iberdrola Renewables misrepresented the amount of support shown by area towns, particularly Alexandria, in Iberdrola’s application for its proposed $150 million Wild Meadows wind farm.
The Spanish wind-energy company wants to build Wild Meadows, a 75.9-megawatt, 23-turbine wind farm, in Alexandria and Danbury, but has “paused” its application process with the state to focus on its existing 48-megawatt, 24-turbine wind farm in Groton, which is the subject of ongoing hearings by the SEC.

The committee has said it may remove Groton Wind’s operating certificate because of complaints from the state Fire Marshal and Attorney General regarding the legality of its building and operating permits and safety issues.
Wild Meadows can be built without either town’s approval, as the SEC is the state’s permitting authority for new, large energy projects in the state. Iberdrola officials have already secured leases for the land for the project from local landowners.

Selectmen George Tuthill, Donald Sharpe and Michael Broome wrote to the SEC on April 1, reiterating the town’s opposition the Wild Meadows proposal, so the SEC has the correct information about town support when the Wild Meadows project is reconsidered.

They also told the committee they may be joining other towns in the region as “intervenors” against the project when it is reconsidered.
They took strong issue with a section of Iberdrola’s Wild Meadows December application, which they say “contained the claim that the 2013 election results were skewed by low voter turnout.”

On March 11, town voters approved a “Rights Based Ordinance” directed at governing the development of wind farms and other industrial energy facilities.
“The proportion approving (320-119) was virtually identical to last year’s. However, the voter turnout, about 40 percent of registered voters) was even larger than a year ago,” the selectmen wrote.

A ballot question put to Danbury residents in December showed 116 in favor to 249 against Wild Meadows. The town has about 1,000 residents.

After the two towns adopted resolutions opposing Wild Meadows last year, Iberdrola’s Paul Copleman did not address the Alexandria decision, but said the Danbury vote had “a low level of responses” that did not provide “an accurate reflection of local sentiment.”

Tuthill said Iberdrola is misstating facts.

“We’re not doing surveys here. These are votes, and 40 percent is considered to be a good turnout in an election,” he said on Tuesday. “We want the SEC to know that if anything, the town is more against this project than ever.”

On Tuesday, Copleman did not directly address the selectmen’s letter when presented with it.

Iberdrola officials “remain hopeful that we can cut through the current level of misinformation, so that the vast majority in New Hampshire who want the benefits of clean affordable power and millions of dollars in local economic development can also be heard,” he said.

dseufert@newstote.com


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