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Second international firm proposes 3rd Newfound Lake-area wind farm

GROTON – A second international wind-power company is proposing a third wind farm project in the Cardigan Mountain/Newfound Lake area.

EDP Renewables of Portugal, the third-largest wind power owner-operator in the United States, would like to build a 60-megawatt wind farm in the towns of Groton, Alexandria and Hebron, according to EDP Renewables Project Manager Jeffrey Nemeth.

The project would place 15 to 25 turbines along ridge lines near where the three towns meet, Nemeth said, just northwest of Newfound Lake and to the east of Mount Cardigan State Park.

The project would be built on 3,000 acres owned by Maxam North America Inc., a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of commercial explosives.

EDP Renewables has secured a lease agreement with Maxam for use of the property, Nemeth said. Maxam officials could not be reached for comment.

The Groton zoning board has given EDP preliminary approval for a 190-foot meteorological tower on Maxam land on a hill near Sculptured Rocks Road, town officials said. That tower will allow EDP to check wind speed and direction to be sure the site is optimal, Nemeth said.

The project is still two to three years away from completion, and must go through a lengthy government permitting project, he said.

“We’re still a ways away, but we feel it is a very realistic project,” Nemeth said.

Spanish wind company Iberdrola Renewables has just completed a 24-turbine, $120 million 48-megawatt wind farm project in Groton.

Groton selectmen signed a 15-year-agreement with the company that in the first year will pay the town $528,000, roughly equivalent Groton’s most recent town budget.

Each of the project’s 24 wind turbines will net the town $22,000 in the years that follow.

Iberdrola Renewables, the second-largest wind power operator in the U.S., is about to begin the state permitting process for its second project in the area, the 37-turbine Wild Meadows Wind Power Project on leased land in the towns of Alexandria, Danbury and Grafton.

That project has drawn protests from local residents, who fear the views in the Newfound Lake and Mount Cardigan area would be damaged by the towers, which are lit at night and are about the size of a 40-story building.

Residents say the local tourist economy would be depressed by the project, and fear environmental effects, such as the sound levels from the turbines.

The Newfound Lake Association has come out against the Wild Meadows project, as has nearby Bridgewater’s board of selectmen.

Nemeth would not give details of financial benefits to the towns or to Maxam.

But he said the Iberdrola project in Groton, which is going online this month, should alleviate residents’ fears.

“I think it’s a great benefit that Iberdrola is already there so people can see what we’re talking about,” he said. “That should eliminate some of the mystery.”