To The Daily Sun,
For once, this is not about debating the economics, aesthetics, engineering or need (or lack thereof) of ridgeline industrial wind in the Lakes Region. This is about the behavior of a company (Iberdrola) that seems to operating under an incredible disconnect from the people they claim to want to serve.
From Day 1, the Spanish multinational has stated, on record, "If you don't want us, we will leave." Since then, the company has lost every vote taken. Despite glossy mailers, friendly press coverage, the promise of alleged economic benefit, and a near-unlimited PR budget, Iberdrola has never mustered much more than 33 percent support in an open referendum. And every time they lose, they claim "Well, it's not representative. The silent majority supports us." That's a bold statement, especially considering the recent referendum in Danbury, which saw greater than a 2-to-1 rejection of the Wild Meadows Project. That vote actually drew more total voters than did the 2013 General Election (46 percent vs. 39 percent). To put those numbers into perspective, in a non-presidential election year, the American average voter turnout hovers around 38 percent.
Recently, Iberdrola has incorporated a tactic we're all too familiar with from TV talk shows. Rather than addressing the scientific and economic concerns of their opposition, they have taken to simply labeling those claims "misinformation." Reasonable people can disagree when examining the same data. If the opposition is wrong, show them where they are wrong, and cite sources that don't have a vested interest. Simply labeling data you don't like as "misinformation" is a shortcut of little, if any, use.
Iberdrola's primary mistake appears to be this: assuming that the citizens of the Lakes Region, an ecologically-minded people, would automatically embrace anything labeled "green," without doing a full investigation of the true impact. Oh, they got Groton in, all right. Talk to those who supported it now. Many of those people have become the strongest voices of opposition. And those voices, which organized from a humble meeting of 75 people now range in the thousands And yet, Iberdrola continues to dismiss the opposition as a minority. Frankly, it seems they weren't prepared to deal with the informed and educated people who are Granite Staters.
They said if we didn't want them, they'd leave. They were sent here to win the hearts and minds of the locals. Despite a massive advantage in funding, they've failed. Beyond that, the safety of the Groton installation has been called into question. The N.H. Site Evaluation Committee has deemed the Wild Meadows application "incomplete," citing numerous deficiencies. The list goes on and on.
We have never seen an issue that unifies so strongly across ideological lines. Republicans, Democrats, independents. Conservatives, liberals, and moderates. Hikers and hunters. Permanent residents and summer property owners. It doesn't matter. It's not about holding out for more money. It's not about securing a better deal. It's about protecting a region, a way of life that has attracted people to this area for decades.
Businesses have gains and losses. Iberdrola needs to realize this is a losing cause. To throw additional money at these projects is to do a disservice to their shareholders. You made your case. It was rejected. Cut your losses. Keep your promise. Leave.
Robert Piehler, Alexandria
Scott Piehler, Suwanee, GA