HOLDERNESS — The state’s battle with the company that built the Groton Wind energy plant is apparently coming to a close, and the company’s $160,000 mitigation donation to Livermore Falls is on schedule to arrive this summer.
Four of the five critical issues the state identified against the plant were deemed settled at the final public hearing on Monday, according to the attorney for the state’s site evaluation committee, Michael Iacopino.
One matter remains from one public intervener in the case, Mark Watson of 35 Stone Glade Lane in Groton, who wants a full explanation of how the state and Groton Wind settled on the $160,000 payment meant to mitigate the company’s decision to relocate its operations and management building without obtaining proper permits.
A hearing on that matter is set for June 11, Iacopino said. If settled then, the state will move to amend the $120 million, 24-turbine plant’s certificate of operation.
The state threatened to remove the certificate in November of 2013 because the company did not obtain necessary permits from state officials prior to the granting of a certificate of site and facility for the plant, which went online in December of 2012.
In August 2013, Ronald D. Anstey, section chief and investigator with the state Fire Marshal’s Office, found that the plant’s owners did not file fire code and safety code plans with the fire marshal, failed to provide required fire suppression at the turbines, and had not obtained proper approval from state agencies for its design and construction of the plant and its operations and maintenance building, which the company moved across the street from its originally stated location.
In response, Iberdrola Renewables of Spain, said company officials had obtained the proper permits through the Department of Environmental Services, and claimed they had acted lawfully. But the company later agreed to the compliance agreement with the Fire Marshal’s Office, working to properly obtain the required permits for the wind turbines and for the operations and maintenance building, The compliance agreement required improved fire suppression systems and improved access to the turbines in winter months. The state also required improved lightning protection, and other building and tower improvements in order to meet state codes.
The company has finalized a new agreement to operate with the town, and has come up with a required new environmental health and safety plan, Iacopino said. Groton Wind also settled the “enforcement issue” with the state, through the compliance agreement that will donate $160,000 to a local community improvement project.The agreement has been approved, and Holderness Selectmen Shelagh Connelly said the town expects to receive the payment toward a project at the geologically historic site, which is in need of safety and beautification improvements.
Watson, who could not be reached for comment, said in a filing with the SEC that “the agreement fails to explain how Groton Wind and Counsel for the Public arrived at the $160,000 payment to address the enforcement claims filed by Counsel for the Public and others and how the money would be allocated.”
Watson’s is the only complaint remaining in the state’s case against the plant, Iacopino said. The matter will be discussed at the June hearing.