Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from New Hampshire
This extended news piece addresses efforts to bring renewable generation to northern New England.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
Aternative energy, much-talked about on local, county, state and national levels in recent years, has become an issue in the Souhegan Valley in recent months, with different communities taking vastly different roads on the issue. Amherst, which actively opposed wind turbines last year, has changed its tune and now is proposing a zoning ordinance allowing some, if not all, alternative energy systems. Milford planners are considering regulatory measures regarding wind power, while in Hollis, building and planning officials have embraced the idea. Brookline officials have not had to deal with wind towers.
...town officials say that the zoning code mandates that no building be taller than 35 feet. They have barred him from erecting his turbines, which could reach 121 feet. Hebert argues that his wind turbines are not buildings and therefore not subject to the zoning code's height restrictions. He has appealed the decision to Hillsborough County Superior Court. Neighbors, too, are up in arms. They say Hebert clear-cut a large swath of his land to make way for the turbines without consulting them. The trees had acted as a noise buffer from nearby highway traffic. Moreover, they say, Hebert's property, wooded and at a relatively low elevation, is unlikely to have the sort of gusts necessary for the wind turbine.
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.
A Connecticut company testing for wind power potential and impacts on the 24,000-acre Phillips Brook property in Coos County said it is looking at developing a 100-megawatt windpark by 2009. The 33 to 67 turbines - each about 400 feet high - would be spaced just over 1,000 feet apart. Meanwhile Tillotson Corporation, owners of The Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch, is looking at a smaller field of wind turbines to the north of Phillips Brook on its North Sanguinary Ridge, said Richard Harris, spokesman. "The primary interest is in being self-sufficent," said Harris. In June, the state approved its first wind turbine facility in Lempster, near Lake Sunapee. It will produce about 24 megawatts of power for the firm Iberdrola.
LANCASTER - Initial test results are favorable for plans to create a 100-megawatt wind farm at the Phillips Brook property. Noble Environmental Power officials presented an update on their project to the Coos County planning board Wednesday night. "The indications from the data collected so far are very good," said Martha Staskus, vice president of Vermont Environmental Research Associates, which is consulting on the project. Pip Decker and Charles Readling of Noble provided an overview of the company and outlined the project proposed for the 24,000 acre Phillips Brook tract owned by GMO Renewable Resources. Readling said the project will likely consist of 33 to 67 wind turbines with a maximum height of just under 400 feet. The company erected two wind measuring towers earlier this year and has permits to put up two more this summer. In addition to evaluating the wind speed and direction, data is being gathered on birds, visual impacts, wetlands, and other environmental impacts. "We're not done collecting all the data," said Staskus.
LEMPSTER, N.H. --Construction on New Hampshire's first commercial wind farm project is expected to begin by the end of the summer now that the developer has received final state approval. After three years of planning and permitting, developer Iberdrola received the last of the required state approvals this month. The company hopes to begin producing electricity sometime next year, said project manager Ed Cherian.
LEMPSTER, N.H. --New Hampshire is a step closer to getting its first commercial wind farm. A 14-member committee representing environmental, forest, economic development, health utility and other interests, approved the project in Lempster on Thursday.
AMHERST - In March, 1,444 voters agreed with people in more than 160 other New Hampshire towns that reducing greenhouse gases is a good thing. That was the theory. On Tuesday, the town's zoning board will face the reality in the form of solar panels and wind turbines, both of which face big legal obstacles. "The fact that it's alternative energy doesn't make any difference," said town planner Charlie Tiedemann. "The zoning (laws) are still in effect."
Several state lawmakers say they support the possibility of locating windmill turbines off New Hampshire's coast to generate electricity, though with some reservations.
About 20 residents attended an informational meeting Wednesday night where Lempster selectmen revealed the details of a proposed agreement with the developers of a windfarm. "We've had a lot of meetings and it's near completion," Lempster Selectman Bill Murgatroy said of the proposal. "It's a working document." Community Energy Inc. and Lempster Wind LLC, (collectively known as CEI) have proposed the construction of 12 windmills for electrical generation atop Lempster Mountain.
The town of Lempster plans to disclose the details of an agreement reached with the developers of a windfarm during an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. "We have reached a tentative agreement with Community Energy," Lempster Selectman Bill Murgatroy said. "It indemnifies the town and protects the town's interest." Community Energy Inc. and Lempster Wind LLC, (collectively known as CEI) have proposed constructing 12 electric generating windmills on a 35-acre lot atop Lempster Mountain. The meeting is designed only to inform the public about the contents of the agreement. The Site Evaluation Committee will hold a hearing on April 9 in Concord to discuss concerns from the town of Goshen over power line placement and also scrutinize the proposed agreement between Lempster and CEI. Both meetings are open to the public.
Getting more money to preserve land, operate state parks, protect wildlife and regulate polluters top the 2007 environmental agenda of a broad coalition of groups. Legislative leaders embraced this first-ever collaborative effort the Granite State Conservation Voters Fund organized and promoted at a breakfast meeting of lawmakers Thursday. “I think great things are going to happen this year, and it’s great to feel like you’re in the mainstream,” said former state Sen. Rick Russman, a Kingston Republican who serves on the GSCVF board of directors.
Goshen officials are concerned about the power lines coming through their town from the proposed Lempster windmill project and have filed a petition with the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee for limited intervening status. “We’re trying to protect the appearance of the village,” Goshen planning board chairman John Wirkkala said Tuesday. Community Energy Inc. and Lempster Wind LLC, (collectively known as CEI) have proposed 12 electric generating windmills constructed on a 35-acre lot owned by resident Kevin Onella. If the windmills are constructed as planned, transmission lines will run along route 10 from Lempster through Goshen and into Newport where the electricity generated will tie into the power grid. “We’re asking for an alternative site for the lines or to bury the lines,” Wirkkala said.
A potential wind energy project is moving forward in the North Country with the approval of two temporary wind measurement towers.
AMHERST — Norm Hebert never thought the town would try to stop him from installing three wind turbines on his four acres. There is nothing in the town ordinances dealing with wind turbines, only silos and ham radio towers. So the 20-year resident began making preparations. He put down a deposit on three turbines with a Canadian manufacturer and cleared his land, a large corner lot in a densely settled subdivision near the Merrimack border. But when he applied for a building permit at town hall, Hebert was told that since there was no specific language in the town’s ordinance dealing with 90-foot tall wind turbines, he would have to get a variance. The town’s maximum height for accessory structures is 22 feet, and 35 feet for other structures, such as farm silos and radio towers.
Although the approach is too late for projects that have already begun a federal review process, a dozen New England congressmen and senators have asked for help from the Department of Energy in coordinating a regional approach to siting liquefied natural gas facilities. Reps. Tom Allen and Mike Michaud have both signed on to this request, which makes sense for future energy projects.
A proposal for a wind-powered generating facility on the 23,781-acre Phillips Brook industrial forest is dashing immediate hopes of a $3.5 million permanent conservation easement on the parcel. Officials with the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests confirmed that the easement - considered a keystone in a 180,000-acre forest between Milan and Dixville Notch in Coos County, and the state’s top priority for funding from the federal Forest Legacy Program for 2008 - is out for now.
The negative feedback project manager Jeff Keelen has heard about the possible Lempster wind mill farm is subjective, he said. Most of the major concerns he has faced involve the visual or noise effects the wind mill farm could create. “It’s hard to tell somebody that they should think the windmills are beautiful,” Keelen said. Citizens will have an opportunity to become better informed about the project at a public information hearing at 7 p.m. tonight at the Goshen-Lempster Cooperative School.