GRAFTON – Residents opposed to the proposed Wild Meadows wind power project were pleased to hear that the developer has dropped Grafton from the plan.
“We’re cautiously relieved,” said resident Cindy Kudlik, noting that her house would have been within a mile of one of the proposed wind towers, though it’s still within two miles of the proposed Danbury towers.
“I wouldn’t say we’re jubilant because they still want to build in Danbury, which will affect a lot of people in Grafton. But at least, for now, they aren’t building here.”
At a Nov. 5 meeting between the project developer, Iberdrola Renewables, and residents of Alexandria, Iberdrola’s Ed Cherien announced that Grafton had been dropped from the project.
The initial proposal called for 37 40-story towers in Alexandria, Danbury and Grafton. The proposal includes 23 turbines in Alexandria and Danbury, with a 31 percent reduction in the project’s footprint, Cherien said.
Cherien said his company reduced the project size because of public concerns expressed at previous meetings. The project is still in its design stage. The company has not yet filed the project plans with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, the governing body for new energy projects.
But Grafton residents say Iberdrola changed its mind because town voters adopted an article titled “Right to a Sustainable Energy Future and Community Self-Governing Ordinance.”
The ordinance uses state and federal law to assert the town’s authority over energy projects, said Selectman Sean Frost. It cites the Declaration of lndependence statement that governments are instituted to secure the rights of people, and cites the New Hampshire Constitution’s statement that “all government of right originates from the people, is founded in consent and instituted for the general good.”
“That ordinance was the only weapon we had, and it worked,” said resident Gen Smith.
“It would have been a tough fight for (Iberdrola Renewables) in Grafton. I’m like a lot of people here, I came to this town to settle down and relax, but these towers would disturb our wildlife and our land, and we stood up and said ‘No!’”
Frost said the town showed its disapproval for the project by approving warrant articles in opposition at Town Meeting in March, as residents did in Alexandria.
“The amount of ridgeline they were talking about, it would have changed the entire landscape of the town,” he said. “I don’t think the project is suited for the area at all.”
He cited the ongoing discussions between residents of Groton and Iberdrola, which built a 24-turbine wind power project in that town with the town’s approval.
Groton residents and town officials in neighboring Rumney are meeting with state officials over claims that Iberdrola hasn’t lived up to its original agreements with the town and the state.
Cherien said the company has followed its agreements and responded to residents’ concerns.
The state is scheduling hearings on the issues, which pertain to the company’s operations building and its plans for winter road maintenance, among other matters.
“We don’t want to end up like Groton,” Frost said. “They could still come back and try to build here in the future, but we’re hopeful this is over for us, though we would still see the Danbury turbines.”
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