Iberdrola letter to Grafton outlines 2016 timeline for wind project; says it won’t build on a ‘nay’ vote
In a letter to Grafton residents sent just before Thanksgiving, Iberdrola Renewables, the Spanish energy company that hopes to build a wind farm with 28, 492-foot-high turbines in Grafton and Windham, has outlined its plans for next year that include a timeline on proceeding with the project and public education sessions. You can read that letter here.
The project is slated for property owned by Meadowsend Timberlands of New Hampshire that lies along powerlines between the two jurisdictions.
Iberdrola said that “based on our current study timeline,” it expected an economic benefits package to be ready for public review and comment by the summer of 2016. The letter, signed by project manager Jenny Briot, also cautioned that further environmental studies may alter the plans for the project but that the number of planned turbines would not be increased.
Iberdrola also said that it expects it will be ready to present a final project proposal and updated community benefits package by the fall of 2016, with the intent of seeing a vote on the project in both Grafton and Windham in November.
The community benefits package likely would consist of an annual payment to each town based on the number of turbines each hosted. Early estimates are $285,000 to Grafton, which plans say would have eight turbines, and $715,000 to Windham, with 20 proposed turbines.
In an interview on Tuesday, Paul Copleman, communications manager for Iberdrola, said, “The package is open for discussion. It will be commensurate with and proportionate to other projects (in Vermont) and their sizes.” He added that money would also be put into the state educational fund.
Also in the letter was an assurance that Iberdrola would “respect the outcome” of a vote by the registered voters of the Town of Grafton on the completed project. Asked to clarify, Copleman agreed that Iberdrola would not build if the town voted it down. Asked about Windham’s expressed stance against a previous wind project, Copleman said Iberdrola would like to give that town the opportunity to vote on this particular project.
In an interview Tuesday, Grafton resident Liisa Kissel, who is against the project, said, “I don’t think the letter told us anything new. It was a little bit of a puzzlement as to the purpose of the letter.”
She added that it did not answer one important question: Why Iberdrola had withdrawn its filing to connect to the grid. In late spring, Iberdrola had filed preliminary papers to connect to the regional power grid, but pulled those papers about a week ago.
Kissel said Iberdrola “said it was procedural and they would refile it. But it’s still withdrawn. … why isn’t Iberdrola explaining what is happening with their ISO filing? They haven’t come forward to the towns with that information. Why did they change from 96 to 73 megawatts and when will they refile?”
Copleman responded that the change in megawatts and the pulling of the papers “has to do with matching the best turbine with the site, the wind and the wind study … It’s a multi-year process … there are a lot of factors” such as new technologies.
He added that Iberdrola expects to refile to connect to the grid this month.
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