Articles from New Hampshire
Renewable energy supporters want Gov. Chris Sununu to sign an executive order that would lead to more offshore wind development in New Hampshire, as neighboring states forge ahead with similar steps and after a bill on the issue stalled in the state legislature this year. Sununu has lately been a vocal supporter of wind as a climate change solution but hasn’t issued the mandates many other East Coast states have used.
After a decade in operation, the 33-turbine, 99-megawatt Granite Reliable Power commercial wind farm in Coos County is about to be sold, and the buyer and seller want to keep the purchase and sale agreement from the public.
Recent recommendations from a subcommittee of New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) disappointed some neighbors to the Antrim Wind turbine project who wanted more precise sound measuring standards than what the committee appears poised to adopt, but the conversation is far from over.
TransAlta, the company operating Antrim’s wind turbine project, affirmed their obligation to properly operating and maintaining the radar-activated aircraft warning lights on the turbines. Their announcement came as a response to concerns voiced by the state Attorney General’s office in late May. TransAlta has “always accepted” the obligation to properly operate and maintain its turbine lighting system.
“Antrim Wind appears to argue that, although it is working in good faith to ensure a functioning ADLS, these efforts are essentially gratuitous,” Senior Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau Allen Brooks wrote in the analysis. “if this position is accepted, Antrim Wind is under no obligation to ever properly run the ADLS.”
"This is really not an easy path forward,” said Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, a green energy tech incubator in Somerville, Mass. “You have to prioritize safety and reliability and keep the lights on and the heat on for everyone and transition to the future.” The region can’t suddenly switch to cleaner sources of energy without ensuring that everyone’s energy needs can be met, said Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association.
What does it say about New Hampshire government priorities that it adds a new and unnecessary office (see related editorial today) but can’t provide its Site Evaluation Committee with someone to open the mail and inform the public about public hearings?
“The select board will write a letter to the SEC, voicing concerns from the people,” Robertson said. Richard Block, one of the residents who lives near the windmills, said he is pleased that the board is getting involved, though he wants to see results. “It remains to be seen if the board will be proactive enough, but we’ll be watching,” Block said.
John Robertson, chairman of the select board, said the board has been hearing from residents who have problems with the noise generated by the $60 million Antrim Wind project. Residents have been complaining about the wall-shaking noise the windmills make, and the near-constant flashing lights.
“The SEC meeting yesterday was perhaps the most frustrating I have ever witnessed and I’ve been intervening before the SEC for 15 years,” Linowes related in an email on March 26th. “The problem is tied to a Chair who cannot seem to keep track of the facts in front of her, Committee members who are disengaged, ignorant about the SEC, and easily confused, and a bureaucratic body that is feeling beat up by the public and afraid to act. The only outcome of yesterday was that the Nov 23 meeting and acceptance of the Antrim Wind monitoring report meant nothing beyond the Committee taking the report in hand."
The state Site Evaluation Committee is one pretty powerful entity, which is why its action, or lack thereof, in the Antrim windmill project was so disconcerting. The SEC seems to have righted itself on this one, but only after state senators called it to task for ignoring windmill neighbors’ complaints.
“Please, when you consider noise with a wind turbine, that it is sometimes loud and sometimes quiet,” Lerner told committee members, reminding them that the intent of their rules ought to be a “shall not exceed” limit. The project’s motion-activated lighting also hasn’t worked correctly since its installation, Lerner said. The blinking red lights on the towers frequently light up, rather than just activating when an aircraft approaches, as they were intended to, she said, and it’s been a year since both Antrim Wind and the SEC were alerted to the problem, with no fixes to show for it.
Several residents have complained about the noise level. ANTRIM — After several residents in the Gregg Lake area of Antrim continued to bring their complaints about windmill noise, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee voted Thursday to create a new subcommittee to investigate the complaints.
New Hampshire State Senators Jeb Bradley, Bob Giuda and Ruth Ward, as well as Rep. Michael Vose sent a letter to the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) on Jan. 29 pointing out that the Committee has been sidelining public complaints about noise the Antrim Wind Energy turbines make in the Antrim area.
What Antrim residents who complained of turbine noise levels are especially upset about is that the SEC, at this meeting that they missed due to it not being directly noticed to them, adopted a report that they believe is not acceptable under the SEC’s own rules regarding the Conditions of the AWE Certificate. ...So, to summarize, the Town of Antrim was not directly notified of the meeting, those making the complaints were not directly notified, no transcript of what took place in the November 23 meeting – now a month ago – has been made available, and no meeting to consider the complaints has been scheduled as of yet.
“This is incredibly disruptive to my workday and life in general,” she wrote. “My neighbors and many others fought against the installation of these turbines and they were right to do so. The turbines have been nothing but a constant headache and source of stress for those made to endure their intolerable noise. It must stop.”
The business groups argue that halting the surcharges would provide some rate relief to both commercial and residential customers at a time when many are having financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. “We’re not looking to decimate these programs, but we are saying, ‘We’ve got to take a breather,’” said Doug Gablinske, executive director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island, which represents large energy users.
In deeper waters of the gulf, wind power will be achieved only with the use of floating turbines. The extensive anchoring and cabling that would be required means “lease areas will become de facto closures to fishing,” the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance wrote in an April 14 letter the governors of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Those types of disputes are “what we’re trying to avoid happening now,” said Annie Hawkins, executive director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, or RODA. The coalition of fishing stakeholders aims to get the industry on the same page as researchers and wind developers across the region. “We’re trying to make sure fishermen are much more involved in the process from day one,” Hawkins said. She’d like to see more work across state lines to coordinate policy and research.
The conflict stems from the vacant-land myth: the notion that there’s plenty of unused land out there in flyover country that’s ready and waiting to be covered with wind turbines, solar panels, power lines and other infrastructure. The truth is that growing numbers of rural and suburban landowners are resisting these types of projects. They don’t want to endure the noise and shadow flicker produced by 500- or 600-foot-high wind turbines. Nor do they want miles of transmission lines built through their towns, so they are fighting to protect their property values and views.