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Wind Farm Builder Makes Pitch To Skeptical Crowd

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Advocates and opponents to the latest proposed wind-farm got to ask questions of Spanish renewable developer Iberdrola last night at a town-hall meeting in Grafton. Though opponents were by far the most vocal in attendance.

This was the first of three meetings this week that Iberdrola has scheduled presenting a proposal to build 36 wind turbines a ridge between the towns of Grafton, Alexandria, and Danbury.

It was a full house and many in the crowd, like April Dugan, came to let Iberdrola know that they did not like the idea of 454 foot turbines in their back yard.

Dugan: We all live in the meadow because it’s a beautiful pristine wilderness and we love that.

Many residents asked pointed questions about the need for the project, where the profits go, and what the impacts to the ridgeline, the watershed, and property values would be.

Many opponents to the project turned out, including anti-wind activists from other towns, but the most pointed questions for project manager Ed Cherion came from Grafton residents.

Resident: American tax-dollars going to iberdrola in Spain, tell us how we make money on that?
Cherion: Well if you do some research you’ll find that the tax-code subsidizes every source of energy in this country

But not everyone in the crowd was opposed to the plan, including Katherine Mulholland, a state representative for the district.

Mulholland: I was somewhat disappointed that Grafton was so adversarial, I think it’s a very much more interesting project to be curiosu about and find out that the facts about than to come in swinging.

Cherion says it’s going to be a long process to get the wind project approved, and Iberdrola will work with communities to minimize any impacts.

Cherion: it’s not likely that we can build or have the approval to build it if the town in general is not supportive of the project, we’re not going to force it on you.

Meetings will continue in Alexandria and Dunbarton Wednesday and Thursday. The permitting process will likely take more than a year, if Iberdrola pursues it.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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