General and New Hampshire
Parts for New Hampshire's first commercial wind farm are arriving by truck and train.
The 400-foot-tall turbines will be built on a ridge on Lempster Mountain in Lempster ...The parts that sit atop the 12 towers and hold the turbine blades weigh 64 tons each.
Imagine 30 wind turbines whirring ATOP two remote Maine peaks. The 300-ton towers, with blades sweeping 400 feet high and aglow with aircraft-warning lights, would each produce 9,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year. So what's wrong with this picture? A lot, according to groups like the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC)–like the fact that the windmills in this proposed farm would be visible from a 34-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
Governors of the six New England states met July 9 for their New England Governors Conference meeting in Boston to discuss energy and try to forge, among other things, an agreement on funding new transmission lines to bring electricity from remote wind and biomass power plants in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire to the urban centers on the Eastern Seaboard.
The state chief executives met in private for what was reported to be some free and candid bargaining, but participants later confirmed that New Hampshire will likely have to go it alone if it wants expand transmission capability in Coos County in order to make renewable energy projects with a total of between 300 and 400 megawatts a reality.
He said that although many people are interested in building them [windmills], the reality is that the windmills only make sense in the southwestern parts of the state, north toward the Sunapee region, and in the White Mountains -- areas with elevated, open space and consistently strong winds.
"That excludes a lot of regions where people think it's windy, but (the wind is) not consistent enough," Weissflog said. "People are currently looking for alternatives, and they're really grasping at straws sometimes."
Boisvert said future projects only will result in more spending as the utility carries out needed improvements.
She also said one of the most expensive projects on the horizon could be the proposed Coos County Loop. She said this project requires the transmission lines in Coos County to be upgraded so new biomass, wind and solar power generated there can be transported to Southern New Hampshire and other states as needed.
Boisvert said PSNH has to carry out that project to meet the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards approved by state lawmakers. ...
It has yet to be determined if the costs will be borne by PSNH ratepayers, New Hampshire state taxpayers or shouldered by customers of member utility companies that make up ISO-New England throughout the Northeast.
"There's no definitive answer," Boisvert said.
Fuller Clark talked about existing transmission lines in New Hampshire's North Country and the issue of who pays for expansion of lines, and by what method energy might be moved from that area to meet demands in the rest of the state and New England. While the expansion cost for Hampton Falls is the responsibility of Public Service of New Hampshire, it actually falls on the ratepayers, Fuller Clark said.
"If PSNH can't come up with a solution to transmission, (we) turn to Canada," Fuller Clark said, describing Canada as having "extraordinary plants. Ideally, we would prefer to develop our own resources here."
In two or three years, the region should have a fledgling renewable energy industry in place and enough Internet capacity to attract call centers and other firms that need first-rate communications, they say. ...Both energy firms believe the existing Public Service of New Hampshire transmission lines, thought to have 100 megawatts of remaining capacity, can handle the extra current after a relatively small private investment. Patch has told lawmakers Noble will spend between $10 million and $15 million to tighten the power lines. Bartoszek confirmed his company would spend a tiny part of its $100 million project cost on transmission improvements.
There's a biomass renaissance going on in New Hampshire and Vern Waters, like other timberland owners, loggers and foresters, hopes to benefit from it. ...Biomass, according to SPNHF Spokesman Jack Savage, is "positive on any number of levels, but first, from a simple forest management perspective, this is essentially like weeding your garden and doing a biomass harvest is going in and pulling the weeds and instead of tossing them you're taking them and you're turning them into electrical power that ideally is replacing fossil fuels."
With no regional solution in sight, New Hampshire should establish a commission to take charge of expanding electric transmission capacity in the North Country, a state senator said Tuesday.
Without more transmission capacity, development of renewable power is largely stymied in New Hampshire, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark told a Senate committee. Clark said her bill would create a single entity to develop a plan to pay for the expansion. ...
So far, the upgrade has not won support from ISO New England, which manages power for the region and would decide if all New England electric users would benefit and consequently should share in its cost.
Hopes for a renewable energy park to be developed appear to be dashed, at least for now.
The partnership hoping to open the park, which had three options on land in town including a 50-acre parcel owned by the school district, has pulled the plug on those options this week.
The reason, Levine said, is the transmission lines in the North Country are not able to accept the level of power that would be generated from the venture, which had already been given the name Groveton Renewable Energy Park.
Levine said the project is in line behind two wind generation projects in the approval process as well as for connecting to the power grid transmission system in the region.
A batch of good news will be revealed to Goshen residents at a public informational session at 7 p.m. Thursday in the town hall. Financing to purchase a new fire truck is in place and the town will also be receiving two large monetary settlements from the Lempster Windfarm project. Neither one will require formal approval by Goshen voters. ..."We have a contractual agreement to receive $30,000 by Dec. 28 to cover Goshen's legal expenses on the windfarm presentation before the state hearing along with background work," Carrick said. The $30,000 will replace funds Goshen actually spent with this effort.
He said an agreement has also been worked out with Lempster Windfarm to provide an additional $50,000 in the future when the project first comes on line.
A way to open up the state's logjam in building renewable energy projects could come out of a proposed 10-state regional greenhouse initiative. According to the Public Utilities Commission, the North Country needs a power line upgrade in the $200-million range to help developers build hundreds of megawatts of future wind farms and biomass electricity plants. Those could meet most of the state's goal of producing 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
Until they win approval or drop out, those projects at the head of the line are blocking plans for a 600-megawatt gas-fired plant somewhere in Rockingham County. The would-be developer is unidentified on the Web site of the ISO-New England electric grid. The federal approval process accepts applicants on a first-come, first served basis.
George Gantz, a Unitil vice president, unveiled some company dreams this past week to reinvent the big regulated utility.
He told Rep. Naida Kaen, D-Lee, and other stakeholders for "distributed energy" that Unitil would like to work itself out of business as a traditional energy retailer.
Distributed energy, a new buzz word, is made by small generators scattered across the electric grid, often remote from the big power plants. ...Under existing law, that would be like McDonald's buying burgers from its patrons. But everybody would win if Unitil could claim the renewable energy credits a business or homeowner can earn under a new state law also sponsored by Fuller Clark. It rewards sustainable energy sources.
Several new North Country energy projects are in the works, but questions remain on how to transmit to homes and businesses the power they would generate.
Experts at an ad hoc energy stakeholders meeting held Oct. 16 at the State House in Concord generally agreed that construction on several proposed wind farms and wood-fired power plants in Coos County will take three to four years - and perhaps longer if New Hampshire hopes to convince other New England states to cover 90 percent of the costs. ...Donna Gamache of PSNH said the hard part is guessing which players are serious and have the stamina to wait out the regulatory approval process.
She said what she called "the California model" would may be "the easiest way to absorb the risk."
In California, a regional electric grid underwrote the cost to transmit new solar and geothermal power to the populated coast in the hopes that future developers would pay their share as they hooked into the lines. If PSNH tackles a project like that without state help, experts fear ratepayers would eat the stranded costs if too few plants came on line.
A decision by the Zoning Board of Adjustment to deny an appeal for a permit to erect three wind turbine generators at 22 Hickory Drive has landed the board in court. ...
At issue is whether the town's zoning ordinances prohibit the windmills.
Small windmills will likely start popping up around the Seacoast as Unitil Corp. tests new ways to produce energy.
The local power company installed its first windmill two weeks ago off Route 101 near Hampton Beach as part of a pilot project to assess the effectiveness of wind energy.
The company is now looking to place as many as 10 to 15 additional windmills atop utility poles around the Seacoast and in Massachusetts, said Unitil CEO Robert Schoenberger.
"Are you ready for a windmill in your neighbor's backyard? They're coming," Planning Director Karen White said at a recently Planning Board workshop.
The lack of necessary infrastructure means that Coos County won't see ground-breaking anytime soon on hundreds of megawatts generated by proposed wind farms and wood-fired power plants.
According to Public Service of New Hampshire officials, the utility's big loop of transmission lines from Littleton to Berlin and back can handle only 100 megawatts more of production before somebody has to pay big bucks to boost the capacity.
Nobody knows who will fund that infrastructure, and the uncertainty has thrown off the financing for some of the dozen New Hampshire power plants lined up for future review by the state Public Utilities Commission.
Because the Unitil turbine will be relatively small, Diener said he doesn't feel it will be visually intrusive. He insisted any wind turbine project considered by the town should be on a small scale. "I don't see large wind farms happening in Hampton. I think it would be too massive a project for this area," he said.
HAMPTON -- Unitil is planning to construct a single wind turbine in town in hopes of "offsetting" the company's energy costs, according to Senior Vice President of Customer Service and Communications George Gantz.