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Spanish explosives distributor to lease Alexandria land to wind farm developer

ALEXANDRIA – The Spanish explosives distribution company that has agreed to lease pieces of its approximately five square miles of land to a Portuguese wind-energy developer had once discussed conservation of its lands with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

But Maxam, which has agreed to lease acreage in Alexandria, Groton and Hebron to EDP Renewables of Portugal for its proposed $140 million, 60-megwawatt, 15- to 25-turbine Spruce Ridge wind-power project, was not able to come to agreement with the Forest Society.

“There were talks many years ago about conservation of lands with Maxam, but nothing ever came of it,” said Jack Savage, the society’s vice president of communications and outreach.

The Forest Society, meanwhile, has not joined with groups already in direct opposition to the proposed project (which is now in “infant” stages, EDP officials said) as it did with the recently withdrawn Wild Meadows wind farm project, which had been proposed by Spanish wind giant Iberdrola Renewables.

Savage said the society is already in opposition to the project through its stance against any new wind power projects in the state until studies of the Site Evaluation Committee and its siting guidelines are complete.

EDP is now in the application process for an 80-meter meteorological tower in Alexandria, which will help the company decide if it should continue with the project, company officials said at a selectmen’s meeting last week.

Documents show that EDP Renewables and Maxam have worked together before, a fact confirmed by Maxam’s area manager, who did not want to be identified by name for this story.

“The two companies run into each other on many projects,” he said.

Maxam, he said, has agreed in principle to lease large amounts of acreage for the wind farm project in the three towns, though EDP’s initial proposal also included land in Orange.

Maxam does not make explosives on-site, but imports them and distributes them from buildings and vehicles on its large sites.

The Exporters and Investors Club’s Internationalization named Maxam its Great Spanish Company of the Year in 2013. The company’s explosives at area sites pose little or no threat to the public, the manager said.

“People would be surprised how much explosives they are driving by every day on the highway, not just from us,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think the proposed wind project would cause much “disruption” in the area, as opponents claim.

New Hampshire Wind Watch sees the project as harmful to the Newfound Lake/Cardigan Mountain area’s tourist economy and to property values

“The apparent unwillingness of (EDP) to respect the warrant articles, zoning restrictions and ordinances of the towns that their multi-national private land owner partner, Maxam, owns land in is a slap in the face to the towns and the residents of the region,” Wind Watch President Lori Lerner said.