Iberdrola cuts number of turbines in Windham, ups its financial packages

By John Hoover and
Cynthia Prairie
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

At its much anticipated meeting with Windham residents on Tuesday, Oct. 4, Iberdrola Renewables has changed its industrial wind proposal by cutting the number of turbines planned for the Town of Windham from 20 to 16 and raising the benefits package from $715,000 to $1 million annually that would include an annual payment to voters.

As for Grafton, Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said in an email late Tuesday night that the number of turbines there are to remain at eight, but that the benefits package would rise by $215,000 — from $285,000 to $500,000.

Copleman confirmed that, after speaking with Windham residents, the “four westernmost” turbines were being removed since residents were concerned about the number and the closeness to some homes. According to documents presented at Tuesday’s meeting, “we have reduced the number of turbines … and generally reconfigured the layout to shift several turbines further from residences. The updated project layout will thus reduce both the Project’s visibility and sound levels.”

According to the Iberdrola document handed out at the meeting, the annual $1 million package breaks down as follows:

  • $395,000 to the Town of Windham in municipal property taxes;
  • $105,000 supplemental payments to town government;
  • $150,000 directly to the community for use by local charities and organizations including the fire department; and
  • $350,000 for direct “partnership” payments to registered voters, with a minimum payment of $1,162 to every registered voter in Windham.
New proposed turbine sitings of the Iberdrola wind project. Click map to enlarge.

New proposed turbine sitings of the Iberdrola wind project. Click map to enlarge.

Concerning that last item Copleman, in an email Tuesday night, wrote that in meetings with Grafton and Windham residents over the past several months, some residents expressed their need for financial assistance with home energy bills and property taxes.

“Now, in addition to cutting the municipal portion of property taxes by more than half in Windham, every registered voter will be eligible” for an annual payout of at least $1,162 to use as they wish, Copleman wrote.

Windham has 328 residents and 150 households; while Grafton is home to 679 residents in 291 households. Copleman said that 301 of those Windham residents are indeed registered voters, which means that 27 Windham residents do not qualify for the payout.

However, repeated questions to Copleman about why Iberdrola chose “registered voters” as opposed to the general populace were answered with “The revised package we shared last night reflected the views of residents and the general population. In response to concerns about financial needs, municipal needs, fire department needs, property taxes, and visual and sound impacts, we have tried to restructure the project proposal to benefit the whole town.”

On Tuesday, the 75 people attending the Windham meeting had expected a general information session followed by a station-to-station presentation much like that held in Grafton in October 2015. However, there were just three stations with participants wandering from one to the other to ask questions.

Each station had a topic including: The economic package proposal manned by Andy Raubvogel; The revised turbine specifics (maps showing locations of turbines) manned by Don Hammond; and  photographic simulations of proposed turbines from selected Windham locations.

Asked about Art Sasse’s statement that Iberdrola might not honor its pledge to abandon the project if it is voted down on Nov. 8 due to intimidation by anti-wind forces, Copleman said that all Iberdrola was looking for was a fair and equitable vote.

Asked if it was equitable to keep non-resident homeowners from participating in the binding vote, Copleman said the company was merely adhering to the laws of Vermont that limit elections of registered voters.

Copleman also re-affirmed that if the vote on the project is no, Iberdrola will not come back with another proposal.

Woodlands wind map

Previous wind turbine sitings.

The  24, 500-foot-tall turbines would be constructed along a tract of land in the VELCO right of way, which is part of a 5,000-acre property owned by Meadowsend Timberlands LTD of New Hampshire.

The Town of Windham has been fighting the project since it was proposed four years ago.

The Windham Town Plan forbids industrial wind turbines and in June the Windham Select Board asked  the Spanish wind company Iberdrola Renewables “to suspend your involvement with this project immediately” and offering to go into negotiations with landowner Meadowsend Timberlands in an attempt to “acquire” the Stiles Brook property.

Iberdrola will be holding a similar meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 for Grafton residents.  Information stations will also be set up so that the community can ask questions of the developers.

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Filed Under: FeaturedGraftonLatest NewsWindham

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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  1. Cathy Z says:

    I have been reading all about the “new” proposal (which includes a payoff to residents), however, I have not seen information about the S1 turbine. I was comparing the two proposal maps and noticed a new turbine in a southern location not previously identified. This change in turbine would change the “sound” map that is currently posted on the stilesbrookforest.com website. New residents would be affected by this turbine, but I have not seen anything online about it. Where is the new data?

  2. Kathy says:

    Oh so true, Jim Griesing. It strikes me as odd that a foreign corporation can develop this on land (which, if I understood correctly) belongs to an out of state company, while the second homeowner is effectively gagged

  3. Jim Griesing says:

    Iberdrola’s latest proposal is aimed to circumvent 2nd homeowners, who own property AND pay about 60 percent of the total taxes in Windham! A noteworthy point is that Windham’s town bylaws prohibit wind turbines… which is something that many relied on to protect their quality of life and property investment. Apparently Vermont’s “political leaders” are listening to PAC money talk vs. ethics and law. Can you say; “TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION?”

  4. Bill says:

    $1162 voter bribes and lower municipal rates to Windham taxpayers? Won’t come close to compensating homeowners for major losses in property values. There must be better locations for these huge towers that don’t destroy great communities like Windham.
    If you’re considering a ‘yes’ vote, I suggest you visit a 500 foot tall industrial-scale wind turbine up close. Look and listen, then imagine half the town filled with them…

  5. joyce just joyce says:

    Come to Weathersfield, we’d love the tax money, we even have the same power line.