Thanks to the Planning Board and Wind Watch, we now have a pretty good idea of what's going on with the proposed Spruce Ridge Wind Project. Here's a quick fact-list gleaned from the presentations and Wind Watch's handouts. The links are worth clicking.
The company behind the project is Enargias de Portugal. EDP produces and trades energy in a variety of ways, including coal, gas, hydroelectric, and wind.
According to Wind Watch, EDP has already leased more than 3,500 acres for the project.
Spruce Ridge will consist of 29 turbines, each 499 feet tall. That's 80% taller than the highest building in the state. The edge of the blades will operate at a speed of as much as 240 mph. Along with the turbines will come access roads, an electrical substation, a maintenance building, and powerlines. The ridge will need to be flattened, and the roads may be as wide as two lines of I-93.
The NH Site Evaluation Committee, consisting of nine people chosen by the governor, will decide whether to let the project go ahead. In order to approve the project, the SEC must reach four findings: (a) EDP must demonstrate adequate financial management and technical ability. (b) The project will not interfere with the area's "orderly development," with local communities' opinions taken into account. (c) The project must not have an adverse effect on aesthetics and the environment. (d) It must "serve the public interest."
EDP has filed with the Federal Aviation Administration. It has not yet filed with the Site Evaluation Committee. Meanwhile, the company is collecting wind data and preparing a proposal that may total more than 4,000 pages. Once the SEC declares the proposal to be complete, the committee has 12 months to decide whether to approve the project.
EDP is required by law to meet with Orange and the other towns at least one month before filing the proposal with the SEC. Two weeks' notice must be given before the meeting. That means we'll have 6 weeks' warning before EDP files. Construction is unlikely until early 2016.
Wind must blow at least 9 mph for the turbines to run, and a turbine takes about an hour to begin producing electricity. Average wind speed for our area is 11 mph. Winds here are highest in winter, when energy demand is lowest. The rated capacity for each turbine is 3 megawatts. A sustained wind of 33 mph must blow i order to reach this capacity. Wind Watch estimates that actual generation will be about .75 megawatt per turbine. While the area does not seem ideal for wind generation, the land is relatively cheap, our state borders energy-poor states, and NH regulations are relatively lax.
Our state is a net energy exporter, producing twice as many megawatts as we use. Power generated by Spruce Ridge will likely go to Massachusetts or Connecticut.
Groton just held a vote to determine opinion toward the project. Citizens opposed Spruce Ridge 145-89.
Our state senator, Jeanie Forester (R), has opposed industrial wind projects in the past, and has lobbied the governor against appointing wind-biased members of the SEC.
You can comment on the Orange site; or you can email me (Jay) directly if you'd like me to post your comment for you. Posts and comments get emailed automatically to the 40 people who have registered on the site.
This is the last image I'll post before tonight's 7pm Planning Board meeting in the Town House. I couldn't scan Scott Sanborn's topo map--there will be paper copies of his version at the meeting--but I managed to create a topo version myself, using the data provided to the FAA. (As always go to Orangenh.US to see all the images.)
By the way: I also transferred the data onto a GPS device. Anyone (Sandi and Cuckoo) up for snowshoeing to the sites? I'd be happy to lend you the gadget. With the right images, I could Photoshop in the turbines to see what they would look like on the site. - Jay
Scott Sanborn created this map, showing the locations of the turbines. Judith Lindahl says she'll have printouts at tonight's Planning Board meeting. (Go to Orangenh.US to see the image.)
This is as close an approximation as Google Earth allows. (See it on Orangenh.US.
Judith Lindahl notes that the turbines aren't scale. They're simply to show the location of each one. I'll try to Photoshop 500-foot turbines into the landscape; stay tuned. Equally important are the roads and powerlines not shown on the map. We don't have their location at this point.