Article

Lempster, N.H., Will Review Plans for a Wind Farm

Dec. 8--LEMPSTER -- Town officials plan to seek state review of a proposed wind farm along Lempster Mountain's ridgeline.

Selectman Bill Murgatroy said Wednesday that the town will be sending two letters to the Department of Environmental Services asking that the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), a group that studies energy projects over 30 megawatts in size, review the Lempster project, which will be around 25 megawatts.
Jeff Keeler of Community Energy Inc., the Pennsylvania-based company proposing the project, said last week there will be 12 wind turbines on the mountain. CEI is working on design and engineering on the turbines and access roads, as well as state wetlands and storm water permits.
The turbines will stand 200 feet tall and are slated to be completed by the end of 2006. When finished, the project is projected to power more than 12,000 homes.
Murgatroy said the idea to get the SEC involved came at the suggestion of Tim Drew with the DES, who spoke at a joint meeting of the select and planning boards two weeks ago. Although the committee does not have the authority over projects smaller than 30 megawatts, Drew told the boards that towns can invite the SEC to look into a project.
"We don't have the ability to deal with such a big project," Murgatroy said.
Lempster is the only town south of the Grafton County line that does not have zoning and, as a result, a site review process. Anyone interested in development need only fill out a building permit.
At a special town... [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Selectman Bill Murgatroy said Wednesday that the town will be sending two letters to the Department of Environmental Services asking that the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), a group that studies energy projects over 30 megawatts in size, review the Lempster project, which will be around 25 megawatts.
Jeff Keeler of Community Energy Inc., the Pennsylvania-based company proposing the project, said last week there will be 12 wind turbines on the mountain. CEI is working on design and engineering on the turbines and access roads, as well as state wetlands and storm water permits.
The turbines will stand 200 feet tall and are slated to be completed by the end of 2006. When finished, the project is projected to power more than 12,000 homes.
Murgatroy said the idea to get the SEC involved came at the suggestion of Tim Drew with the DES, who spoke at a joint meeting of the select and planning boards two weeks ago. Although the committee does not have the authority over projects smaller than 30 megawatts, Drew told the boards that towns can invite the SEC to look into a project.
"We don't have the ability to deal with such a big project," Murgatroy said.
Lempster is the only town south of the Grafton County line that does not have zoning and, as a result, a site review process. Anyone interested in development need only fill out a building permit.
At a special town meeting in September, residents narrowly defeated a bid to enact emergency zoning. The move to bring emergency zoning before voters came after the wind project was first proposed to the town.
"We don't have a regulatory process that they need to apply to without zoning," Richard Fairweather, planning board member, said Wednesday.
After some residents expressed concern in the lack of oversight, Fairweather said the town began looking into review options.
"It's not really an effort to stop anything," he said.
Requesting the SEC's help is a way to get the site review that would be included with a zoning ordinance.
Another concern for the town is the regional impact, according to Fairweather. Some of the leased land on Lempster Mountain borders the Goshen town line, while the Washington town line is also close.
"This area is not used to huge well-funded entities and what they can do," Fairweather said. "You don't really understand how big this thing could possibily be." In July, Keeler asked the town to consider collaborating with CEI to host public forums, but town officials have declined to co-sponsor any events.
Fairweather said the decision to remain neutral was to avoid any suggestion of bias.
Keeler said last week that after the success of the open house CEI hosted several months ago, CEI hopes to host more public forums. The company is also planning to launch a Web site with information on the project in the next couple of weeks.
The push to involve the public is one CEI wants to do, Keeler said. During the special meeting, an overwhelming majority of more than 300 residents gathered indicated they were in favor of the project with a show of hands.
That fact does not stop the need for feedback, he said.
"We want to do something that's legitimate," he said. "I think you can be in favor of the wind farm and still have some concerns."
According to state law, the SEC should regulate energy facilities because "the selection of sites for energy facilities will have a significant impact upon the welfare of the population, the economic growth of the state and the environment of the state."
The law also states that "public interest requires that it is essential to maintain a balance between the environment and the possible need for new energy facilities in New Hampshire." As part of the review process, the SEC holds public hearings on proposed projects.

Source: link missing! please notify us

DEC 8 2005
https://www.windaction.org/posts/647-lempster-n-h-will-review-plans-for-a-wind-farm
back to top