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Wind-power developer eyes Alexandria area again

ALEXANDRIA – A Portugal-based wind-power developer has found sufficient wind in the area to build a wind farm, and will be bringing a proposal for a large wind-power plant to five area towns and before a state committee in the coming months.

William Whitlock, executive vice president for EDP Renewables North America LLC’s Eastern Region, confirmed the company’s plans on Friday, saying EDP’s tests of the wind locally have been positive.

“There’s no question that there’s plenty of wind in the area,” Whitlock said.

The company also knows there’s a lot of opposition to its plan, though it hasn’t been formally announced.

“We know we have a lot of persuading to do of those folks, of course,” he said, explaining that the company plans to meet with people in area towns in the first quarter of 2015.

On Nov. 5, EDP filed plans with the Federal Aviation Administration for 29 wind turbines standing 499 feet in height. The turbines would be scattered among Alexandria, Canaan, Dorchester, Groton and Orange.

The plan for the turbines has changed from an initial set of details submitted by the company, with fewer turbines planned for Alexandria. The plan change happened after a recent hearing in town, at which residents voiced concerns about allowing a wind farm in town.

“We listened to what the people of Alexandria were saying and adjusted the plan accordingly,” he said.

The company has also been meeting with conservation groups, Whitlock said. In the weeks ahead, EDP will file a plan with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, he said.

EDP doesn’t need local approval for its plans, just the SEC’s blessing. But the company wants area residents to also give their OK, he said.

“We recognize there’s a lot of people opposed to projects like this, but we hope there’s a compromise,” he said.

Whitlock said his company is aware that strong local opposition likely played a role in the decision by Iberdrola Renewables of Spain to drop its proposed Wild Meadows wind farm project in March. They are “hopeful” that EDP will have better success with area residents, he said.

“We know we have a lot of work to do to meet the concerns of local folks,” he said. “We know that a lot of people are displeased with wind energy in general. We are hopeful we can reach them.”

New Hampshire Wind Watch, a group of more than 3,000 residents in the Newfound Lake/Cardigan Mountain area that opposed Wild Meadows, is against the EDP plans, and warns of “the visual and audio assault these 500-foot turbines will inflict on the area.”

Residents in the area see wind turbines from Iberdrola’s Groton Wind plant, and many don’t like the view, Wind Watch officials said in a statement.

“We know better. Most residents of the area consider these turbines to be a visual and audio blight.”

Mark Watson of Groton said he and his fellow residents are not happy with Groton Wind.

“It’s my back yard neighbor. I know how it feels, I know what it sounds like and I know what it looks like,” Watson said.

“Buyer beware and do your homework because you and your children will be committed to living with these turbines for the remainder of your natural lives. I know my life in Groton will never be the same.”