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Wind company’s tower permit delayed again

ALEXANDRIA – A request from a Portuguese wind-power developer to the town for a 262 foot meteorological tower to test the winds in town for wind-farm suitability was brought again to the board of selectmen Tuesday night, and again, approval was postponed to the next board meeting.

But the meeting, which featured arguments about the legal viability of the town’s new Rights-Based Ordinance between audience members and representatives of EDP Renewables, may have left less solved than the previous meeting.

EDP attorney Mark E. Beliveau, a partner at Pierce Atwood LLP in Portsmouth, asked selectmen at their meeting two weeks ago for a permit for the tower, which would be erected to test the wind’s strength for the company’s proposed $140 million, 15-25 turbine Spruce Ridge wind-power project in this town, Groton and Hebron.

At the meeting Tuesday night, Beliveau again asked for the permit. But he did so knowing that Selectman Michael Broome had stated at the end of the last meeting that he would not agree to sign a permit for the tower project because the town passed a Rights-Based Ordinance in March that asserts the town’s rights of self-determination on large new energy projects in town.

And once again, a selectman stated publicly that he would not approve the permit request from EDP. This time it was Selectman Donnie Sharp, who said he would not agree to approve the permit because he had not favored the idea when it was proposed about a year ago. He said he would not approve of it now.

“Donnie made no bones about it, he said he just wasn’t going to sign,” said Selectmen George Tuthill, who favors some kind of settlement with the company that would allow the tower.

“On the other hand, from my point of view, we provisionally approved a permit for this tower last year, I don’t see how we can take away something we’ve already granted,” Tuthill said.

Beliveau and the board members did negotiate a decommissioning fee for the metereological tower.

The selectmen set a minimum fee of $34,000 to completely remove the tower and its parts. Initially, EDP’s representatives argued that amount was too high, but eventually they agreed to it, and said they would provide proof of the bond by the selectmen’s next meeting on July 15.

The board did not say the permit will be approved at the next meeting, however.