ALEXANDRIA – Town officials say the battle likely isn’t over, but the selectmen Tuesday night formally refused to approve a permit request from a Portuguese wind-power developer for a 262-foot meteorological tower to test the winds in town for wind-farm suitability.
Representing EDP Renewables, attorney Mark E. Beliveau, a partner at Pierce Atwood LLP in Portsmouth, told the selectmen he had brought evidence of a $34,000 decomissioning bond to meet one of several conditions set forth by selectmen a little less than a year ago.
In fact, Selectman George Tuthill said the board had approved the permit request a year ago with the conditions. All of the conditions had been met when Beliveau brought forth proof of the bond.
“My personal opinion is that these conditions have been met,” Tuthill said while a large group of residents opposed to what they call “industrial wind” power projects in the area watched from the audience.
Tuthill raised a motion to approve, but selectmen Donnie Sharp and Selectman Michael Broome would not offer a second to the motion and it died.
Broome had stated at a previous 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.
Before the motion was raised, Beliveau tried to explain the project to selectmen. “I understand the opposition is strong … to wind power,” he said.
“But this is not the wind farm, this is a passive data collection device,” he said.
Beliveau said of the RBO, “we don’t believe it’s an enforceable ordinance.”
After the non-vote, Beliveau said the battle isn’t over. He did not return phone calls Wednesday asking for elaboration.
“You’ve made a choice, and it’s unfortunate,” he told selectmen.
Tuthill said he expects EDP, which had initially proposed to build a $140 million, 15 to 25 turbine Spruce Ridge wind-power project in this town, Groton and Hebron, to come back to the town.
“It would be unreasonable to assume the project is over,” Tuthill said.
Those in the audience against the wind-developer’s project were surprised that Beliveau verbally challenged the town’s Rights-Based Ordinance, which sponsors admit has not been tested in a state court yet.
“It would appear that EDP representatives present at the meeting are not familiar with the Community Bill of Rights Ordinance or our New Hampshire Constitution as they continuously misquote or misinterpret them both,” said Alexandria resident Michele Sanborn.