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Wind power company criticized for response to state regarding Alexandria proposal

Iberdrola Renewables, the Spain-based wind power giant that is proposing a new wind farm facility in Danbury and Alexandria, is taking a lot of heat, in some very unfriendly terms, for its responses to state officials’ questions about its Groton Wind farm.

On May 6, 2011, the state’s Site Evaluation Committee granted a permit to Iberdrola Renewables through its local company, Groton Wind, for a 24-turbine, 48-megawatt wind energy company. The facility was built and went online in December of 2012.

But during construction, Iberdola made changes to its plans, including a relocation of the operations and maintenance building, and claims it did so following state law by filing its plans with the Department of Environmental Services. Complainants say the plans should have been filed with the state fire marshal and other applicable agencies.

As company officials prepare for a prehearing conference later this month on complaints from the fire marshal, the state Attorney General’s Office, and abutters to its buildings and turbines, Iberdrola officials found themselves defending the company’s record.

From Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter C.L. Roth: “Groton Wind’s Opening Memorandum is indicative of its overall response to the problem it created. It refuses to acknowledge that it has done anything wrong, it mischaracterizes the Committee’s orders in ways to suit its position … and it denies plain reality…”

From Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith and Rep. Suzanne Smith, D-Hebron: “We continue to have concerns with lberdrola’s noncompliance with the State Fire Code and their apparent disinterest in responding to other concerns … Wind projects continue to be a sensitive issue in our communities and Iberdrola’s performance to date calls into question their technical and managerial capability for construction and operation of any proposed project.”

In a Jan. 13 letter responding to the charges by Smith and Forrester, Iberdrola’s Tim Seck defended the company.

“Iberdrola Renewables is actively and diligently working to resolve the outstanding questions pertaining to Groton Wind operations, including but not limited to direct conversations with parties who have raised concerns. However, we strongly maintain that Groton Wind is operating safely.

“We are proud of our strong focus on safety and fire prevention, as the safety of our staff, contractors and the community is always the first priority at our 60 energy facilities around the country. Our regular controls, procedures and training, plus our close coordination with local fire departments and other emergency responders allow us to maintain high safety standards at all of our facilities,” he wrote.