To learn more about the project or make comment, visit www.iberdrolarenewables.us/stilesbrook
Originally published in The Commons issue #161 (Wednesday, July 18, 2012).
WINDHAM—Town moderator Michael McLaine said the crowd in the Windham Elementary School auditorium on July 11 numbered more than at Town Meeting.
People stood against the walls and doorways while a few neighbors stood outside and watched through open windows. Mosquitos and deer flies, never ones to miss an opportunity, buzzed the crowd.
The topic to draw more people than the town budget?
Meadowsend Timberlands Limited and Atlantic Wind, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, presented a proposal to site three meteorological (MET) towers on a plateau in the Stiles Brook Forest to determine commercial wind potential. The forest straddles the towns of Grafton and Windham.
The MET towers require a certificate of public good (CPG) from the Public Service Board. Iberdrola would request a three-year permit.
The proposed 196.9 feet tall (60 meters) MET sites are located near a corridor for Vermont Electric Power Co. (VELCO)’s transmission lines. According to Iberdrola’s pre-filing proposal, each tower requires about one acre of cleared land. The towers would not need red, flashing aviation lights.
Iberdrola expects to use existing roads to access the proposed MET sites. A map supplied by the company at the July 11 meeting shows two towers will require new access roads between the VELCO corridor and the tower.
Community member Howie Ires thanked Meadowsend Managing Partner Steven B. French and Managing Forester Jeremy Turner for being “good neighbors,” and finding a reputable utility company to conduct the testing. Despite the anti-wind sentiment in the room, he said he wanted Meadowsend to know community support also existed.
“The town already fought this war,” called a woman in the audience. “Why are you bringing it back?”
A man in the audience said the county had Vermont Yankee, a nuclear plant it didn’t want but the feds said it had to keep.
“I say we stop it [the MET towers] right here,” he said.
Iberdrola is not the first utility company to eye the Windham area. Catamount Energy Corp. and Marubeni Power International, Inc., proposed a commercial wind project for Glebe Mountain. Residents in Londonderry and Windham debated the project, at times bitterly. The companies pulled out in 2006 after overwhelming community opposition.
“Our desire is to test the potential for the wind resource,” said French. “And that is all at this time.”
According to its website, Meadowsend is a forest management company that manages about 30,000 acres of private and public land holdings in New Hampshire and Vermont. The family-owned company manages about 5,000 acres in Windham and Grafton.
Conserving its land for forestry and open for traditional uses such as hiking and snowmobiling is the company’s goal, said Turner.
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