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Poll shows Groton voters oppose new wind plants

GROTON – A master plan poll of town residents by the planning board shows most people in town are against adding more wind-energy plants.

According to planning board Chairman Steve Spafford, the board sent 353 mailings to all of the residents on the voting list, and received 226 of them back.

Of those, 89 people said they would approve more wind-energy plants, and 145 were opposed to the idea, Spafford said.

The town, which accepted the plans of Spanish wind-energy developer Iberdrola Renewables and allowed the Groton Wind Power Project, a 25-turbine, $120 million, 48-megawatt plant which went online in 2012, to be built.

In return, the town is given payments from the plant each year which were set at an amount that is roughly the town’s budget amount.

After some debate and legal questioning, the town accepted a proposal from EDP Renewables of Portugal this fall for a test tower on a local hill. Since then, EDP officials have announced that they will be filing an application for a $140 million, 15- to 25-turbine wind project called Spruce Ridge, which, if permitted by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, would be built on land in five towns, including Groton.

The town is hoping to update its master plan in 2015, Spafford said, and needed to “get a sense of how people are feeling about new power projects, in this case wind projects.”

Earlier this month, the board mailed a survey to residents, asking, “Do you support more wind projects or oppose them?”

“We got a pretty strong response,” Spafford said. “We will likely add some wording on this for the master plan, and now we have something to tell the SEC when (EDP) files for this new project. According to our vote, the town is against more wind projects.”

EDP officials did not return requests for comment.

A local group opposing more wind power plants in the area, New Hampshire Wind Watch, said EDP should not ignore the vote.

“Industrial wind developers take notice, you are not wanted here,” said Wind Watch President Lori Lerner. “We have one huge turbine complex here already. One is one too many.”

“People live in this area because we don’t want to be urbanized. Now that the region has been ‘turbanized’ by (Groton Wind), residents in all towns in the region are coming together to fight this latest industrial scourge from EDP as the residents of Groton did so overwhelmingly (in the poll).”