Wind power company not pulling back from Parishville-Hopkinton plans, despite pulling out of Hammond
Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 8:21 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

Iberdrola Renewables might have retreated from its wind power development in Hammond, but its industrial-scale plan for Parishville and Hopkinton remains in place.

“We continue to study the data and maintain the leases we have signed, and we continue to evaluate the grid interconnection,” said Paul Copleman, spokesman in the Northeast U.S. for the Bilbao, Spain-based company.

“But there won’t be much added activity there this year, at least as of now,” he said.

Iberdrola’s wind turbine electric generation proposal for Parishville and Hopkinton came up after the company reportedly shelved its project in Hammond, citing market conditions and questions about where regulation might be headed.

But those factors have not amounted to enough for them to pull out of the leases it signed with landowners in Parishville and Hopkinton a year and a half ago.

“We think that area has potential but given the variety of projects in various stages of development, we are looking at and moving our best opportunities forward this year,” Copleman said.

“It’s good to have projects in various stages of development to keep the project pipeline going.”

They have been collecting meteorological data from the two towers they put up in the area about two years ago, and they have held a couple of information meetings for the public, as much to inform people of the plan as to promote the company and gauge the communities’ response to the idea of wind turbines swirling over farm fields, and Copleman said it is fair to say the company believes there is probably enough wind to make it worthwhile but not so much that they felt a need to move quickly to take immediate advantage of the resource.

So they are not giving up the leases they have from local landowners, and will study how to proceed, including the question of how they will move the power to the grid, which could involve an agreement with National Grid to connect to a 115-kilovolt line along State Rt. 72.

The company had signed up about 15 landowners in March 2011 as a public relations team from Iberdrola visited Parishville and Hopkinton to talk about their plan, which they were calling North Ridge Wind Farm.

They said at the time that they pay landowners by installed megawatt, typically amounting to $8,000 to $10,000 per year per two-megawatt turbine atop a 100 meter tower.

Each turbine, at full capacity, generates enough power to serve 600 houses, they said.

They also say the company planned not to pay taxes on the development, but would negotiate PILOTs, or payments in lieu of taxes with local taxing authorities for 20-year terms. But tax incentive plans for renewable energy could be changing, potentially changing the profitability equation.

“The studies and formal applications are time consuming. These are long-term investments that take years to come to fruition, so there might not be a lot of visible work going on,” said Copleman.