The Commons has run an article on the proposed Iberdrola / Meadowsend Timberlands turbines at Stiles Brook. Excerpts are below.
A developer and landowner plan to propose turbine locations at Stiles Brook, the site for a proposed wind facility in Grafton and Windham
By Mike Faher, The Commons
WINDHAM—For years, opponents of a wind-turbine development proposed in Windham and Grafton have complained that they’ve not gotten much solid information about the project.
That might change later this month, as a developer and landowner involved in the Stiles Brook proposal have teamed up to schedule public meetings in both towns.
The meetings are scheduled for Oct. 26, at 6 p.m., at Grafton Elementary School and Oct. 27, 6 p.m., at Windham Meeting House.
“Our expectations for the meeting are modest,” said Mary Boyer, Windham’s Selectboard chairwoman and a consistent critic of the project. “Iberdrola has been studying the parcel for more than three years and so far has told us virtually nothing of their findings, their layout plan nor their estimate of impacts of this very large-scale development.”
Iberdrola is an international developer of wind turbines, and Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd. owns the 5,000-acre Stiles Brook Forest, which lies mostly in Windham and Grafton.
In 2012, the companies jointly announced plans to study wind resources at Stiles Brook. If a project goes forward, it would be the first large-scale, commercial wind-turbine site in Windham County.
There has been grassroots opposition to the project in Grafton as well as opposition at the town level in Windham, where the town plan bans such turbine developments. Last month, the nonprofit Grafton Woodlands Group — which opposes commercial wind power — opened a storefront office on Main Street in Grafton a short distance from a Meadowsend office.
“We had almost 60 people” at an open house held Sept. 25, said Liisa Kissel, a Grafton Woodlands Group director. “It was very well-attended.”
Opponents have drawn up their own maps showing “potential tower locations” in relation to existing residences, camps, churches and schools, with hypothetical tower sites inferred from topography and general turbine-siting requirements. But neither Iberdrola nor Meadowsend has said where windmills might go.
“This would be the first time that they would be answering that question — how many turbines and where would they be,” Kissel said.
The meetings also are supposed to include talk of “potential economic benefits to the community.” While there have been past discussions about the financial benefits to towns that host wind facilities, there have been no specific details released regarding Iberdrola’s latest economic proposals at Stiles Brook.
Those who oppose the project aren’t sure that any turbine-related cash infusions — no matter how large — will be worth it.
“Of course there will be money in the equation eventually, but it is very difficult to put a monetary value on the loss to a community of its iconic ridgelines, waterways, and forestlands,” Boyer wrote in an email response to questions from The Commons.
“Ridgelines are not renewable,” she added. “A monetary value on the loss of quiet days and nights to the hum of rotors spinning; the loss of the dark night skies to strobe lights 500 feet in the air; the loss of property values to our property owners; increased flooding to the downstream communities? It will be very interesting to see just what these economic benefits will be.”