Library from New Hampshire
“We in New England deserve better than Northern Pass, and most especially New Hampshire deserves better,” wrote Arnold, in part. “We will not trade away the majestic beauty of New Hampshire. We will insist on smart, modern, and well-planned energy projects that protect our invaluable natural and scenic resources, not compromise them.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Maggie Hassan settled the dispute over the valuation of the wind farm in Dixville and Millsfield by signing into law HB 1590.
A request from a Portuguese wind-power developer to the town for a 262 foot meteorological tower to test the winds in town for wind-farm suitability was brought again to the board of selectmen Tuesday night, and again, approval was postponed to the next board meeting.
The price of wholesale electricity in New England fell 14 percent in May, continuing the two-month downward slide from the record high prices from the first quarter, according to regional grid administrator ISO New England.
“It just seems to me as if taking money from everybody and giving it to government selected resource, saying we’re going to subsidize you and keep your costs low, I’m not even sure it’s legal,” said Michael Harrington, a former New Hampshire Public Utilities commissioner.
Coos County Commissioner Paul Grenier said that in a conversation with him, Otten indicated that he could “live” with a 500-foot setback but not the 1,350-foot setback that had been imposed by the county’s planning board. The setbacks are intended to prevent harm to anyone near the turbines from accumulated ice being flung off their blades.
In 2008 the three Coos County commissioners – Tom Brady, Bing Judd and Paul Grenier – picked $113 million as the value of the wind farm and thus the basis for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes. But in 2012 the state’s Department of Revenue Administration concluded the wind farm was really worth about double that. ... since most of the wind farm is in tiny Millsfield, it suddenly owed about $800,000 to the state.
Clearly, the time has come for solar and wind to compete on their own with coal and nuclear power, without state mandates or subsidies. Ohio recently rolled back its renewable mandate, freezing the phasing in of power that utilities must buy from renewable energy sources. New Hampshire should do the same.
The establishment of the RBO was in response to proposed wind-energy projects in the area that are, at present, licensed by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, leaving local communities with little input into the projects’ outcome. RBO backers want a say in the decision to grant a permit for a meteorological tower to EDP Renewables of Portugal.
“The states and NESCOE are deliberately working out the details of this plan in secret, consistent with the view of one of NESCOE’s staffers that the plan should be ‘formulated behind closed doors’ because the ‘court of public opinion can be fickle and recalcitrant,’ ” Courchesne wrote, quoting an email from a NESCOE staff member to Executive Director Heather Hunt.
The county established the Utility Valuation Defense Fund as a response to what county officials said was a broad-based effort by utilities to challenge municipal assessments throughout New Hampshire. The situation is particularly acute in Coos County where the utilities appear to be “trying to pick off small towns one at a time,” through legal action that the towns are hard-pressed to respond to.
The Spanish explosives distribution company that has agreed to lease pieces of its approximately five square miles of land to a Portuguese wind-energy developer had once discussed conservation of its lands with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
The six New England governors, working with the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCO) and regional grid operators, have launched a process under which Northern Pass partners may be able to acquire substantial ratepayer funding and eminent domain powers for the controversial plan to bring hydroelectricity from Quebec into New England.
The court decision, however, may become moot because the legislature this session passed a bill that sets the value of the wind farm at $113 million – the figure used by the county in calculating a Payment In Lieu of Tax (PILOT) agreement with Granite Reliable Power.
What was supposed to be a brief discussion with the selectmen, though, turned into an often-contentious question-and-answer session with a group of about 40 disgruntled town and area residents. Repeatedly, audience members issued the same message to the company. “You are not wanted here,” said resident Bob Piehler.
(NH) Wind Watch members will be at the meeting to ensure that EDP knows residents in the towns have repeatedly voted against new wind power projects in the area. Opponents to the projects say they are not against wind power, but the three projects proposed are in clear view of Newfound Lake and Cardigan Mountain hikers.
Developers are pitching plans, and are now offering states handsome “benefits packages” in seeking their support. In addition, states could earn millions from new property or infrastructure taxes, the leasing of existing right-of-ways and financial returns on public investment in the lines. But these assurances aren’t enough, according to Kerrick Johnson, vice president of Vermont Electric Power Co., or VELCO.
Opponents of proposed wind farms in the Newfound Lake-Cardigan Mountain region will be holding victory parties next weekend because Iberdrola Renewables has withdrawn from its proposed $150 million Wild Meadows wind farm proposal.
It is unfair to say the state’s political climate is not receptive to wind energy, Rep Rep. William Baber, a Dover Democrat, said. “I think the Legislature has sent a strong message that renewables are an important part of our future,” he said. “That doesn’t mean siting of the wind farms should be done without thoughtful oversight.”
None of these factors appeared to have killed the project, though. Iberdola’s inability to satisfy state concerns about its Groton Wind farm seems to have been the deciding factor, which is another reason to be thankful that the company is not building another wind farm nearby.