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April 19. 2014 7:59PM

Groton Wind farm operator agrees to meet state demands

GROTON - Iberdrola Renewables has agreed to comply with all state building and safety codes at its 24-turbine Groton Wind facility by stated deadlines, according to the state.

The state fire marshal has informed the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) that his office has reached agreement with the Spanish energy company, whose plant has been the subject of complaints from abutters and a state investigation since it went online in December 2012.

At the outset of the investigation in November, the SEC threatened to pull the company's operating certificate and to halt operations at the facility if the investigation proved the company had acted unlawfully in building the wind farm. Despite the agreement, Groton Wind could still be shut down by the SEC, said Michael Iacopino, the SEC's lawyer.

"There are still issues here. The fire marshal is only one of the issues, and the committee hasn't voted to accept this agreement yet," Iacopino said.

The Attorney General's Office, he said, is still pursuing its complaints that the company acted unlawfully in moving its operations and maintenance building from the area cited in the plan approved by the Department of Environmental Services. The fire marshal, too, filed complaints about the relocation of the building from one side of Groton Hollow Road to the other.

The fire marshal found several violations of safety and building codes at the building that must be remedied by May 1. If Iberdrola misses the deadline, the company must shut down the building until it is brought up to code.

Iberdrola officials had previously said they received approval to build and operate the 48-megawatt plant from the Department of Environmental Services. Some abutters have withdrawn their complaints in recent weeks, having been satisfied by the company's outreach efforts.

Iberdrola officials confirmed the agreement, but would say little else.

"Out of respect for the ongoing SEC process, we can't elaborate at this moment, but Iberdrola Renewables and Groton Wind take public safety very seriously and we are working diligently to bring these matters to a swift resolution," said Iberdrola's Paul Copleman.

According to the Fire Marshal's Office, Groton Wind has agreed to install fire suppression in each turbine. The agreement requires the company to immediately shut down any building or structure not in compliance by June 23.

"As an alternative to shutting down the turbines, the agreement requires Groton Wind to provide a fire watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at its own expense," the fire marshal states in the agreement. dseufert@newstote.com


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