August 14, 2013
New Hampshire

Conference scheduled for issues with Groton wind farm; Wind farm originally approved in 2011

By Paula Tracy, Escape Outside Editor | August 13, 2013 |

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee will hold a pre-hearing conference Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. on Groton Wind and the safety and winter maintenance of its access roads, among other issues.

It will be at the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, at 21 South Fruit Street, Suite 10, in Concord.

The 24-turbine wind farm was approved by the SEC on May 6, 2011, with conditions.

It has been constructed and began making electricity, which it sells to NStar in Boston, at the end of last year.

On Dec. 31, 2012, the SEC received a letter from the neighboring Selectmen of the Town of Rumney expressing concerns about the safety and maintenance of the turbine roads within the site.

Groton relies on neighboring towns for firefighting and emergency medical response, and Rumney is a first responder.

On Jan. 11, Groton Wind, which is owned by Spanish turbine giant Iberdrola, delivered a letter to the SEC responding to the those concerns and the Rumney Selectmen replied that the issue of the maintenance of the turbine roads within the site during the winter months remained unresolved.

Also, Rumney resident James Buttolph, on behalf of certain intervenors in the permit process, filed a letter with the SEC asking it to reopen the record.

In support of his request, Buttolph alleged that the construction of the project did not comport with the plans as approved by the SEC and that there were significant revisions to the plans specifically regarding the location of the operation and maintenance building and the location of two wind turbines and questioned wetlands permit conditions and the alteration of terrain permit conditions.

Groton Wind said that revisions to the plans and the facility as constructed were properly submitted to the Department of Environmental Services as modifications or amendments to the wetlands permit and the alteration of terrain permit and that review by the SEC was unnecessary.

The SEC held a public meeting this winter and issued a report which indicated that the issues of turbine road safety and maintenance together with the issue of the location of the operation and maintenance building were not resolved by the parties at the time of the prehearing conference.

The report also indicated a meeting with fire chiefs and EMS directors for Rumney and Groton, other local fire chiefs, EMS directors, the State Fire Marshall, a Fish and Game representative and the local fire commissioners should be scheduled.

While they met and verbally came to some agreements, no plan has been worked out or implemented, the SEC indicates.

“To date, the issue regarding safety and maintenance of the turbine roads and the issue of the location of the operation and maintenance building remain unresolved and require resolution by the Committee,” the notice, issued Tuesday read.

The purpose of the pre-hearing conference is to schedule and discuss proposed hearing schedules for the balance of the proceedings.

The meeting is open to the public.

Run a bit like a court, the pre-hearing conference is conducted in accordance with RSA 541-A: 31, V and New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules, Site 202.10. Counsel for the Committee, Michael J. Iacopino, will preside.

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