LANCASTER – Initial test results are favorable for plans to create a 100-megawatt wind farm at the Phillips Brook property. Noble Environmental Power officials presented an update on their project to the Coos County planning board Wednesday night.
“The indications from the data collected so far are very good,” said Martha Staskus, vice president of Vermont Environmental Research Associates, which is consulting on the project.
Pip Decker and Charles Readling of Noble provided an overview of the company and outlined the project proposed for the 24,000 acre Phillips Brook tract owned by GMO Renewable Resources.
Readling said the project will likely consist of 33 to 67 wind turbines with a maximum height of just under 400 feet. The company erected two wind measuring towers earlier this year and has permits to put up two more this summer. In addition to evaluating the wind speed and direction, data is being gathered on birds, visual impacts, wetlands, and other environmental impacts.
“We’re not done collecting all the data,” said Staskus.
Decker said Noble hopes to submit its application to site and construct the wind farm to the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee by the end of the year. Because the project is over 30 megawatts, it falls under the jurisdiction of the state Site Evaluation Commission, which consists of state department heads.
Decker said Noble has financing from JP Morgan, the global financial services firm. Currently Noble has four wind projects under construction and three in the permitting stage.
In developing the Coos County wind farm, Decker promised Noble would maximize its use of local vendors and materials. He announced, as an example, that Noble has hired Horizons Engineering of Littleton as its lead civil engineer on the project. York Surveying of Milan has done the surveying work.
Readling said as many as 250 short-term jobs would be created during the construction period. A smaller number of longer term jobs would be created once the construction is completed.
Readling said there will be indirect benefits to the local economy from the money that circulates from the payroll and material purchases. He said Noble will also pay taxes to the state and county. Because most of the Philips Brook watershed is in the unincorporated places of Odell and Millsfield, property taxes historically are nonexistent or low.
Readling said there are also environmental benefits from generating power from a renewable energy source. Power generated by the wind farm would be sold to the New England Independent Systems Operator (NEISO). He said Noble submitted its application over a year ago and is in the queue to come on-line in 2009.
“We do have a position in the queue,” said Readling.
Board member Fred King asked Noble to commit to selling the power generated by the wind farm to Public Service of N.H. He said he does not want the power to go to Massachusetts. Readling said his firm has spoken to PSNH.
Board member Rick Tillotson spoke about the site evaluation committee process. While Coos County will not have direct control over permitting, Tillotson said it will be a party to the proceedings. The committee will look at cost, benefits, potential impacts. He said the county can request Noble pay for an attorney to represent Coos County in the proceedings.
The board had a number of questions about the capacity of the transmission lines in Coos County. Readling said Noble is responsible for the cost of constructing the lines needed to connect to the grid. He said that will be in the range of six to 12 miles. But the transmission system in the county that connects to the NEIOS grid has limited capacity. King noted that there are several biomass projects proposed for the county as well. Unless the grid is upgraded, the current transmission system could not accept all of the projects under consideration.
Board member Sue Collins cited a Wall Street Journal article reporting a shortage of windmills. Staskus noted Noble already has an inventory of turbines. Readling said Noble has also purchased futures on transformers and turbines.
Decker has an office at the old Lancaster courthouse and is available to answer questions about the project.
Barbara Tetreault, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 16, 2007