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Fire investigators to check on Groton wind farm’s progress

Union Leader Correspondent

May 19. 2014 9:46PM

GROTON — State Fire Marshal’s Office investigators will be at the 24-turbine Groton Wind LLC energy plant on Wednesday morning, inspecting the reported progress made by the plant owners to meet state building and safety requirements and avoid a threatened shutdown.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s Office announced Monday that it may have reached agreement with Groton Wind over the improper siting of its operations and maintenance building. Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Roth, who is representing the public’s interest, said the settlement would allow the building to stay in its current location.

Iberdrola Renewables of Spain was licensed by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to build the $120 million, 48-megawatt plant in 2011. The plant went online in late December 2012 under the name Groton Wind LLC.

But in November, the SEC said it had received correspondence claiming that Iberdrola was “operating the facility ... in violation of the terms and conditions of the certificate of site.” The committee ordered hearings, which began in March.

Ronald D. Anstey, section chief and investigator with the state Fire Marshal’s Office, told the SEC the company did not file fire code and safety code plans with the state fire marshal, failed to provide fire suppression at the turbines as required, and had not obtained proper approval from state agencies for its design and construction of the plant.

Iberdrola officials said they properly filed plans and permit requests with the Department of Environmental Services, and claim they didn’t violate the guidelines given to them by the SEC.

Fire marshal inspectors will inspect the building for improvements specified in a compliance agreement reached last month and will also be checking the plant’s new fire patrol system, in which firefighters are required to continually monitor the plant’s turbines for fire until the company installs required fire-suppression systems on each turbine. The company has a June 23 deadline to do that.

“The indications are good from what we’ve heard, but we really won’t know how they are doing with compliance until we get there Wednesday morning,” Assistant Attorney General Diane Martin, who represents the fire marshal, said.

A third set of complaints from intervenors, the town of Rumney, and others has to do with plowing of the roads between turbines in the winter. The company has claimed it is not required to keep all the roads plowed.

Iberdrola Renewables spokesman Paul Copleman said the company is dealing with the issues before it as best as it can.

“We’re working very hard to reasonably and responsibly fulfill the agreement we reached with the Fire Marshal’s Office. Safety remains our top priority for our employees, neighbors and the general public. We are looking forward to resolving these matters and continuing to help New Hampshire bring clean power to the region,” Copleman said.

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