Residents of the Alexandria remember well when lawyers representing Energias De’ Portugal (EDP) Renewables showed up for a meeting with elected officials back in July of 2014. EDP was seeking the release of a building permit for a data-collecting MET tower, required for the Spruce Ridge industrial wind project that proposed 29, 500’ feet tall wind turbines to a number of towns in the Newfound and Mt. Cardigan regions.
In 2013, residents adopted a resolution opposing industrial wind projects at the Alexandria Town Meeting. In 2014, residents overwhelmingly adopted a Right to a Sustainable Energy Future rights-based ordinance (RBO). That RBO prohibits unsustainable energy projects in Alexandria which the Ordinance defines in part, as "hydroelectric power and industrial scale wind power when it is not locally or municipally owned and operated..." It is sure that EDP representatives expected opposition from residents, but it was obvious during the July 2014 meeting that EDP’s lawyers were not expecting elected officials to represent the vote of the people.
Selectmen at that July 2014 meeting refused to approve the conditions of the MET tower building permit, as two of the three stood on the grounds of representing the will of the people that had consistently voted against industrial wind in Alexandria. Their moral resolve triggered legal papers served to the Town by EDP to force the issuance of the building permit.
It was clear in the legal papers filed by EDP against the Town of Alexandria that their intent was to bully the elected officials and residents into being exploited as a resource colony for profit. EDP attempted to override the right of the people of Alexandria to protect the health, safety and welfare of both human and natural communities. The selectmen eventually released the building permit to EDP to avoid a lawsuit, but after receiving the MET tower building permit, EDP never erected the tower.
Bullying by EDP inspired Community Rights activists to propose another binding, rights-based ordinance in 2015 to specifically prohibit "exploratory data collection" used in the "application for any permit necessary to engage in unsustainable wind resource extraction." That covers MET towers and all the other data required to proceed with the determining the viability of siting an industrial wind facility.
Now, a year-and-a-half later, the Town of Alexandria has received a cancelation notice, effective 4/23/17, on the bond to cover the erection and removal of the MET tower for the Spruce Ridge Industrial Wind Project by EDP Renewables. The bond requirement was one of the conditions placed upon EDP for the building permit.
More good news was received when residents learned that EDP Renewables withdrew their ISO-NE Interconnection Queue Request for the Spruce Ridge project effective 4/10/17. The act of withdrawing an ISO-NE request for a proposed project indicates the developer no longer has intentions of pursuing that project to generate energy to feed into the regional grid.
Standing up against the power-posturing of corporate giants is not new to residents of Alexandria. Community Rights activists celebrated the defeat of another industrial wind developer – Iberdrola – in the fall of 2014 when they too, withdrew their ISO-NE Interconnection Queue Request for the Wild Meadows wind facility. That withdrawal occurred the day after the towns of Danbury, Alexandria, and Hebron enacted rights-based Sustainable Energy Ordinances prohibiting the siting of industrial-scale wind facilities at their 2014 Town Meetings. Grafton was the first of the towns affected by the proposed Wild Meadows facility to enact the same rights-based ordinance at their 2013 Town Meeting.
Residents of the Newfound and Mt. Cardigan regions have denied exploitation of our ridgelines, water quality, sensitive ecosystems, a healthy local economy, and our right to self-govern TWICE in the past three years! This is a day to celebrate, as it marks the end of EDP's intent to move forward with the Spruce Ridge project. However, this does not mean the end of our diligence in protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people and natural communities of the region. Community Rights activists encourage residents to continue participating with local select board and planning board meetings to keep up on who might be seeking to force your community into hosting a project that violates the rights of human and natural communities.
Michelle Sanborn is a resident of Alexandria and chair of Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort (CARE Group), coordinator for NH Community Rights Network, and community organizer for Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Join CARE Group and NHCRN on Facebook. Visit NHCRN on the web at www.nhcommunityrights.org , and if you would like to talk about issues violating your Community Rights, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.