March 12. 2014 10:05PM

AMC objects to proposed test tower in Cardigan Mountain area

Union Leader Correspondent

ALEXANDRIA — The Appalachian Mountain Club has come out against a proposed second wind-power project in the Newfound Lake-Cardigan Mountain area, saying it would "without question dominate and negatively impact" Cardigan and its views.

The AMC is opposing a $140 million proposal by EDP Renewables of Portugal for a 60-megawatt, 15- to 25-turbine wind-energy project that would be built on a single landowner's leased property in the towns of Groton, Alexandria, Hebron and Orange.

The AMC has issued a letter to the Alexandria Board of Selectmen registering its opposition.

EDP officials met with Alexandria selectmen Feb. 25 to share information needed for the town to permit an 80-meter, or 262½ feet, meteorological tower. The company needs to build so-called "Met" towers in Alexandria and Groton to measure wind speeds, company officials said. The data from the towers would determine the economic viability of the company's proposed Spruce Wind wind-power project.

The AMC acknowledges it is objecting to a proposed test tower, and the 100,000-member club understands that EDP officials say the tower is not a commitment by EDP to the project, only a means of testing wind speeds as an early measure for the project.

But the AMC, which owns and operates the Cardigan Lodge and Reservation in Alexandria, said the Met tower should not be permitted.

It noted that the state is now studying ways of improving its siting guidelines for such projects.

"This is a region of really high significance, this is a region of very special scenic and natural resources for the state," said Susan Arnold, the AMC's vice president for conservation, on Wednesday.

"This project would truly have a significant impact on the Cardigan-Newfound Lake region," she said.

The AMC, which is also opposed to a proposed Wild Meadows wind farm on the southern end of the lake (EDP proposes building on the northern end), notes that it wasn't opposed to the Groton Wind project to the north.

"The proposed application for a met tower is but the first step in the process towards development of a project that would be extremely damaging to scenic resources of major statewide value and historic significance. The decision to permit the met tower will have significant ramifications," the AMC wrote to the selectmen.

"The iconic and popular summit of Cardigan Mountain and its fire tower, and the views they provide, are unquestionably resources of high state significance, which is why this area has been protected as a state park. The immediate proximity of these industrial-scale wind farms in the region would without question dominate and negatively impact this state resource at the highest level of concern."