GROTON – People opposed to new large wind generation projects in the state say Groton Wind’s most recent power production numbers show that New Hampshire doesn’t have enough wind to efficiently support wind energy plants.
As the state’s Site Evaluation Committee decides whether to permit a proposed new wind farm in Antrim, New Hampshire Wind Watch is citing Groton Wind’s estimate four years ago that its facility would have a capacity factor of 33 to 36 percent. The capacity factor measurement is the average power generated divided by the rated peak power.
In its 2015 reports, Groton Wind said it fell short of that prediction, showing a 27.3 percent capacity factor. On Tuesday, Groton Wind told the Union Leader that its two-year average at the plant was 26.5 percent.
But Groton Wind LLC, which is owned by Iberdrola Renewables of Spain, is optimistic about stronger winds in the area and improved production in the future, said spokesman Paul Copleman.
“We’re hopeful that the wind resource will pick up in these next couple of years at Groton and hit a more robust average net capacity factor,” Copleman said.
Opponents of the Antrim Wind project don’t see that happening, and see the Antrim Wind project as a high-cost failure that will not benefit residents of Antrim or ratepayers in the state.
“Paying more for power from projects that don’t do what was expected or promised, especially when we already have nearly the highest-priced power in the nation, just doesn’t make sense,” said Bridgewater resident Joe Wilkas in testimony on Oct. 3 to the SEC, in which he spoke against the Antrim project.
Wind Watch President Lori Lerner noted the unpredictability of windpower and argues that it’s unreliable.
“Based on the numbers in the Groton Wind application and based on the plant’s actual performance, it looks to us like the capacity numbers in the application were highly inflated,” Lerner said.
Despite protests from residents and groups like Wind Watch, Groton Wind LLC, a 48-megawatt, 24-turbine wind farm, was built and went online in December 2012. Antrim Wind initially proposed a 10-turbine, 30 megawatt facility. After state regulators rejected the project in 2013 because of the aesthetic impact it would have had on the region, the SEC is again considering the developer’s adjusted nine-turbine proposal.
Copleman said SEC officials should consider that the entire wind industry “has seen a lower overall wind resource” in recent years.
“However, our other New Hampshire wind farm (in Lempster) has indeed seen a 31 to 33 percent average net capacity factor for the past few years,” he said
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