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Wind farm makes presence known

PLYMOUTH â€“ Growing quickly along the ridge line above the Plymouth area is a 24-turbine wind farm, due to be completed by January.

Iberdrola Renewables is erecting the white towers along Tenney and Fletcher mountains just north of Newfound Lake. The towers are visible from Interstate 93 at Exit 26.

Large telephone poles are also being built along Tenney Mountain Highway and Fairgrounds Road to support the new electric load that will travel from the area. The electricity will go to a power station near Livermore Falls in Campton and enter the New England grid.

Iberdrola Renewables is a Spanish wind-power giant, with its U.S. headquarters in Portland, Ore. Jan Johnson, communications director for Iberdrola, said there are no complete turbines yet, “but we have five partial towers erected (the base and midsections).”

With blades extended upward, the turbines will be almost 400 feet tall, with blinking lights to alert aircraft. By comparison, the communications tower on top of Tenney Mountain is about 180 feet tall.

The project was approved in May 2011 by the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee; construction began last fall.

Residents in Rumney opposed the project with a rash of concerns, including noise, loss of natural view and decreased property values, but their appeals were exhausted when the state Supreme Court did not take up the case.

The Groton farm turbines will generate 48 megawatts of electricity. The power will go to the Boston area because the purchase agreement was acquired by NStar, now a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities. The electricity will serve 20,000 homes.

The level of carbon-free electricity that will be generated is the equivalent of taking 16,500 cars off the road or not burning 200,000 barrels of oil a year, according to Iberdrola.

The project is the second in the state for Iberdola Renewables, which also operates the Lempster Wind Farm. The Lempster farm is half the size of the Groton project.

According to permit documents, the project will create about 150 jobs â€“ from electric line workers to engineers to people who provide geo technical services â€“ providing more than $1 million in pay and benefits.

The project’s estimated economic effect on the region is $81.5 million over 20 years, the documents state. The entire project is within the town of Groton, which will benefit from the tax revenue.

To accommodate the heavy equipment needed for the project, 13 miles of road will be built or rebuilt from a narrow logging road.

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee has approved three wind parks so far, including Coos Wind, which is also under construction. Once the wind farms are operating, New Hampshire will have 136 megawatts of wind power in production.

Iberdola produces more than 50,000 megawatts of wind-powered energy worldwide.