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Groton Wind makes progress on fire marshal’s complaints

The state Fire Marshal’s Office has issued a report on the work by Iberdrola Renewables to bring its Groton wind-power facility up to state codes, saying that the company is “compliant” with many of the required changes.

Other requirements are still incomplete, but the company has told the state it is working to meet the compliance agreement reached between the company and the Fire Marshal’s Office, state officials said in a report by Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice.

The company has said it will meet the requirements of the compliance agreement to avoid a threatened state-ordered shutdown at the 24-turbine plant, which went online in December 2012.

Groton Wind LLC and Iberdrola officials said that the company satisfied the building requirements by filing for and receiving appropriate permits for its buildings, road system and its 400-foot wind turbines with the state Department of Environmental Services.

But the Fire Marshal’s Office and other agencies said the company was wrong in thinking it only had to get permits from DES. As hearings were held by the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee this spring on the request from the Fire Marshal’s Office to remove the plant’s certificate, a compliance agreement was reached between the fire marshal and Groton Wind.

In the report, Rice describes the company’s progress in two areas: The complaint that the towers and turbines did not meet state fire safety codes and on the company’s decision to move its operations and maintenance building across the road from where it was originally planned to be sited.

On the first issue, conceptual plans for fire suppression in the turbine’s nacelles have been submitted, and though final shop drawings and a schedule for installation must be submitted and approved, the plant is now “compliant,” Rice said.

“(Groton Wind) has represented that fire suppression has been installed in all 24 turbines. Inspections of the installation are ongoing,” she wrote.

The state is awaiting special inspection reports for the grounding of the lightning protection system, she said. But the plant owners have said they will be providing requested documentation shortly that shows it has met state and federal fire codes.

The company owners have also complied with the request for an emergency plan meeting the requirements of the national fire protection codes, and that plan’s acceptance is “contingent upon confirmation that the agreed-upon trainings for local emergency personnel will be provided during opposing seasons (i.e., winter and summer),” she said. “To be clear, this requirement is related to the emergency plan required by the compliance agreement and does not eliminate any obligations contained in the agreements with the towns of Groton or Rumney.”

The company is compliant on most of the fire marshal’s complaints about the operations and maintenance building, Rice said.

The fire marshal’s complaints are among several that the committee is dealing with. Others complaints, including several from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the movement of the operations and maintenance building will be heard in coming weeks.