To the editor: Who are the people behind the wind company?

Letters to the editor logoThe tiny towns of Grafton and Windham are faced with the possibility of a 28-turbine wind project being built on our ridgelines. This, the largest industrial wind development in Vermont, would forever change these quiet rural towns and the lives of their residents. The magnitude of this development is high up on the Richter scale. The communities are already feeling the shocks.

For the past four years, residents have researched the ins and outs of this project and what it would mean for us. We have learned about wind energy, town planning, Vermont politics, and about each other’s views on the subject. So what is still missing?

Missing are the faces behind this undertaking. Here is our experience with the wind developer and with the owners of the land where the facility would be built.

We wonder who the developer really is, behind different names and corporate layers. We were told that it is Iberdrola Renewables, the U.S. subsidiary of a massive Spanish conglomerate. But it would be doing business here as Atlantic Wind LLC. Who or what is Atlantic Wind? Unclear.

Recently Iberdrola changed its name to Avangrid. The company is represented by a “business developer” but usually speaks through a public relations person. This year, there appears to be a new “business developer” who however has not introduced himself to town government or the public. (He has met privately with one select board member whose ear he seems to have.) Now there is also a “corporate communications director” making statements. The company has also hired a lobbying firm to spread its message.

Where are the corporate decision-makers, the executives who are directing this from the distance? In a total disrespect of the communities, they do not show up. To them Grafton/Windham is a dot on the map and a profit line in the business plan. Are they afraid to meet with us? Or is it that they just can’t be bothered?

The landowner is only slightly more engaged. Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd., based in New London, N.H., owns the parcel. No one from MTL lives here in Vermont. Their spokesman is Jeremy Turner, with the title – managing forester. The owners, Jameson and Steven French, have not been seen in Grafton or Windham for two years, and have spoken publicly here only three or four times in four years.

It is hard to trust corporations that hide behind spokespeople, lobbyists and mid-level employees. Yet we are being asked to enter into 20-year agreements with these nearly faceless entities. Yes, both Grafton and Windham have been requested, in separate letters, to “form committees” to “negotiate agreements with us” and “vote on Election Day in November.”

Who is asking us? Why should our local incorporated Vermont municipalities and our duly elected leaders follow the orders of unseen, unknown people?

Sam Battaglino
Former chair
Grafton Select Board

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  1. Kathy Giurtino says:

    We went through the threat of a wind project when living in Maine. Huge damage will be done to the forests and hilltops just to install the turbines. Twenty years from now when the wind turbines are non-functioning and archaic, who will pay to remove them? The mountain tops, the erosion, the lost habitat cannot be replaced. Vermont depends on tourism; destroying the beauty of the state will have long-term ill effects on our quality of life as well as tourism. Do not trust the people selling the idea of wind power. Solar is very effective here and less intrusive. In 20 years it can easily be upgraded or removed with no damage to the environment.

  2. Filomena Soyster says:

    Now is the time for every resident, business owner, worker, and second homeowner in Windham and Grafton to look objectively and clearly at the facts, faces, and figures relevant to the Iberdrola commercial wind project. This project changes the landscape, character and quality of our towns — permanently.

    Who are the sponsors? Iberdrola and the various money interests linked to Iberdrola, a huge global company without meaningful qualitative interest in our communities. Iberdrola research reveals a mess of public lawsuits & fines associated with companies that do not perform as agreed. When the time comes for our towns to hold Iberdrola accountable, who are we dealing with? What money and resources will be necessary and where will they come from?

    The promised tax reductions are a thin veil. When examined closely, tax relief is limited in time and benefits. The Windham Foundation recently communicated its position on Iberdrola’s commercial wind project in an objective brief letter published in the October 2016 monthly Grafton News. The risks are simply too high, and well outweigh our potential benefits and rewards.

  3. Hi Sally,
    The Telegraph has been looking at and reporting on issues having to do with all sorts of trucking through town including “superloads” like those used to move wind turbine parts. In our research we find that the state AOT has rules and permitting in place for these loads. According to officials at the state, there are times that temporary changes need to be made to roads to accommodate large loads. When the shipments are completed, those changes must be reversed.

    The state’s permitting process is not open to public comment, but the route is not entirely under the control of the State of Vermont. Along Main Street, from the Country Girl Diner to Lover’s Lane, is a town highway and as such the permitting of these loads is in the hands of the Town of Chester.

    We will continue to look at and report on this question so readers will be informed IF an application is ever filed.

  4. Sally Warren says:

    Has anyone in Chester looked into the issue of trucking traffic, if the industrial project goes through? In Grafton, we have been told that the heavy trucking of materials, blasted rock and huge turbines will not come through our town.

    Is it going to go through Chester? What effect will that have on the village?

    At one of the forums about the industrial wind project, a lawyer who had worked on the Lowell project said that the town would never be the same. It seems that Chester might want to have a say about the trucking resulting from the largest industrial wind project in Vermont.

  5. Melissa Fisher says:

    There is an MTL office located in Grafton that is open to the public five days a week.

    An MTL employee also attends the majority of public meetings in Grafton throughout the month.

    MTL and Iberdrola are also available to meet with members of the public throughout the weekdays. The Frenches attend every informational public meeting held by MTL (multiple per year) in both Grafton and Windham and often attend the Town Meeting in March as well.

    The author knows this, yet chose to present this information in an unfactual manner.