ALEXANDRIA – The new project manager for the proposed $140 million, 29-turbine Spruce Wind wind power project in five towns says it may be two years before the Portuguese-based wind developer files an application for the plant with the state.
Jeffrey Nemeth of EDP Renewables, who had been the Spruce Wind project manager up until this fall, is now project manager again. He contradicted William Whitlock, the executive vice president for EDP Renewables North America LLC’s Eastern Region, who is no longer managing the project, he said.
Whitlock said in November the company would be coming to the towns of Canaan, Orange, Dorchester, Alexandria and Groton to present the project in the first quarter of 2015. Nemeth said that is no longer the case, and said the change has nothing to do with the votes last week of four of the five towns expressing reservations about the project.
“(Whitlock) may have been looking to move more quickly, but that’s not the case (now),” Nemeth said. “We’re not looking at submitting an application in the foreseeable future.”
“It could be late this year, it could be next year, it could be two years from now,” he said.
EDP filed plans on Nov. 5 with the Federal Aviation Administration for 29 wind turbines standing 499 feet in height in the five towns. Nemeth said that is a standard step for the company to take in the process of developing a wind plant.
“When you develop a wind farm, you have to be sure there are clear paths for aviation,” he said. “These are steps you take early on.”
In Orange last week, residents approved a warrant article to oppose the wind project. In Dorchester on Saturday, voters overwhelming opposed new “industrial” wind facilities. In Alexandria last week, residents approved a community bill of rights ordinance to prohibit “wind resource extraction.” And Groton voters approved new restrictions on future wind power developments.
The Appalachian Mountain Club, New Hampshire Wind Watch and the Newfound Lake Association have come out in opposition to Spruce Wind.
Nemeth said the delay has nothing to do with the votes last week or the apparent opposition locally to the plant.
“There’s been a lot of misinformation put out by some groups,” he said.
New Hampshire Wind Watch president Lori Lerner said the company isn’t getting the message being sent by the towns involved.
“(Nemeth’s) remarks appear to be a standard wind industry tactic to try to quiet an increasingly vocal, well-educated and well-informed opposition. The voters couldn’t be more clear in our message to (EDP): Your 29 50-story turbines are not wanted here. Not this year. Not next year, not ever.”
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