Wind Developer Offer: Generous Or A Bribe?

Wind Developer Offer: Generous Or A Bribe?

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A wind farm developer has offered a deal hard to refuse: three-quarters of your electric bill paid for for 30 years. It would be for almost all year-round residents of Hopkinton. Avangrid Renewables says the idea came out of talks with residents.

“The feedback we were getting involved questions about whether people could benefit personally on their electric bills from having a clean energy facility in their community,” said Paul Copleman, Avangrid spokesman.

Residents won't be getting the wind power. They'll still get electricity from their local utility. Then Avangrid will cut a check for 75 percent of the cost up to $1,200 per year. But wind farm opponents don't think much of the offer.

“I was insulted, honestly. I mean, it feels like a bribe. If the project can't be beneficial for everyone, then this shouldn't even be something that's on the table,” said Janice Pease, Hopkinton resident.

The ball is now in the Hopkinton town board's court. A public hearing will be held Wednesday on a local wind energy law. That law could limit where Avangrid can put wind turbines.

The proposed law has mandates. Wind turbines would have to stay 2,500-feet away from a neighbor's property line. There's a noise limit. And it would restrict them to areas north of Route 72. Avangrid wants to put up 27 wind turbines.

“People live in Hopkinton because of this. We have a beautiful, beautiful area to live in. It's quiet. A lot of us had moved to this area for the peace and serenity,” said Kelly Pullano, Hopkinton councilperson.

Pullano will be one of five board members voting in April on the wind energy law. The council appears split. Avangrid's offer to pay electric bills has added even more energy to the debate.

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