In May 2012 the Selectboards of Grafton and Windham were informed that the Spanish- and Arab-owned corporation Iberdrola (operating here as Avangrid and Atlantic Wind LLC) was leasing 5,000 acres of land owned by Meadowsend Timberlands.
Iberdrola / Avangrid
Based in Spain, Iberdrola is the fourth largest energy company in the world, and the largest wind company in the world. Ownership is mostly Spanish; however, the second-largest shareholder and a strategic partner is Qatar (an oil-producing Arab Emirate on the Persian Gulf). Company value is $66 billion, annual revenues $44 billion, profits in 2011 just under $3 billion. Its energy output mix includes gas (34%), nuclear (19%), coal (12%), and renewables (23%). In the U.S., Iberdrola is the second largest wind company. It also owns utility companies such as Central Maine Power, Rochester Gas and Electric, and New York State Electric and Gas. In Vermont, Iberdrola also seeks to develop the Deerfield wind project, which was tied up in courts until in 2014 the court ruled in favor of Iberdrola. In New York State, Iberdrola was sued by 60 residents living near its wind facility in Herkimer County because of health and noise concerns.
Iberdrola’s fraudulent and corrupt business practices are known the world over, and the company currently faces millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions in proposed fines, and a worldwide ban on World Bank financing. In California, state utilities authorities recently found Iberdrola “misled state officials” and overcharged the state by $371 million, during the state’s 2000-2001 energy crisis. Iberdrola/ Avangrid is being investigated by Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, and a recent article in CT’s New Haven Register notes Iberdrola likely changed its US business name to Avangrid because of the “baggage” associated with Iberdrola being at the center of five recent cases of bribery, fraud, and corruption across the globe. Back home in Spain, Iberdrola was recently fined $27M for market manipulation.
Meadowsend Timberlands Limited
The proposed Grafton / Windham project is located on land owned by Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd. (a private timber company owned by the French family) and leased to Iberdrola. Meadowsend is based in New Hampshire and owns approximately 34,000 acres of land in various states. It owns 80% of the land that is leased for the wind facility in Sheffield, VT. It is the second largest private land owner in Vermont.
The parcel leased to Iberdrola / Avangrid consists of 5,000 acres, of which about 1,500 acres are in Grafton and about 3,500 acres are in Windham. A total of 55 properties abut the parcel in Grafton and Windham. 500 dwellings are located within a two-mile radius from the parcel, almost 1,000 in eight towns within a three-mile radius.