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Labor and business groups were outnumbered today in a hearing to put a moratorium on any wind farm or electrical transmission line project. House Bill 580 calls for an energy plan to be written before permits are issued for projects such as Northern Pass or wind farms such as the one on Tenney Mountain in Plymouth.
"The major downside of these wind towers they require an enormous amount of space. And it's not just ordinary space, it is our mountaintops, it is those high forests, it is the ridgelines that I think define with is beautiful about New Hampshire."
Those supporting the moratorium heavily outnumbered those opposed to the bill. Many traveled from northern parts of the state to explain why they think the wind turbines aren't a good fit for their communities. "When does a private company in search of profit have more rights than the private citizen who owns property in the state of New Hampshire?"
"Proper siting involves a multitude of considerations, including environmental impacts," the statement read. "We felt strongly that this proposed project failed the ‘proper siting' criteria. Clearly, the SEC agreed."
"The committee deliberated for three full days after hearing more than 11 days of evidence and ultimately decided the project would cause an adverse effect to the aesthetics of the area primarily because of the visual impact," SEC attorney Michael Iacopino said. The project's nearness to the New Hampshire Audubon-held Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary played a part in the decision, as well as the opposition voiced both in testimony and written statements.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee rejected approval of a proposed 10-turbine wind project late Thursday, but the company behind Antrim Wind Energy said it is still considering the options following the highly anticipated ruling.
"Let's just pose the question, can wind power make a substantial contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions?" Luce told the assembled crowd. "This is my answer: in the mid-west, maybe. In the Eastern US absolutely not, the wind resource is just not here. Except if off-shore wind turns out to be economically, technically, environmentally feasible."
A group opposing several wind power project proposals in the Lakes Region will host a public meeting tonight featuring a pro-wind power speaker who doesn't think the proposed farms, or any wind farms, make sense in the mountains of New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Wind Watch will host "Issues with Wind Power in New England," a presentation by Benjamin Luce.
Both boards last week amended their original approvals to allow Jericho Power to put up three turbines at a total height, including blades, of 500 feet. The approvals require Jericho Power to execute a decommissioning plan that will include removal of the towers, foundations, and utilities and returning the site to pre-existing conditions should the project cease.
Several basic issues, though, such as a fear of declining property values, concerns about the aesthetic impact of turbines proposed to be 472 feet high and worries that the town doesn't really have a say in whether the project moves forward, continually pushed to the forefront of the conversation. "We've been living it every day since the project was announced," said Sean Frost, who, unlike his mother, said his mind is firmly made up. "If the people don't have a voice in an issue of this magnitude, that's a problem."
The court found that not only had the NRC followed proper procedure in overriding the ASLB, but that the representations by SAPL and the others in support of the possibility of wind power replacing nuclear power "proved to be untrue."
Hundreds of residents at various meetings have expressed opposition to the wind turbines, he said. "They're ruining the aesthetics of the area here with these wind mills. The only thing they're benefiting is some foreign company to come in here" and hurt the views, Reilly said. "It's not giving New Hampshire anything but a headache."
Ed Dekker, member of the New Ipswich Planning Board, said Timbertop's move to bypass the towns is intended to thwart the will of the people who voted overwhelmingly to pass tight restrictions on wind farms in their communities. "The will of the people of New Ipswich was made clear by their votes, and it's inappropriate for the state to override the people of New Ipswich," Dekker said.
Jurisdiction over a proposed five-turbine wind project may bypass the towns' review process and come under the state's purview. Timbertop Wind, a subsidiary of Austin, Texas-based Pioneer Green, submitted its plans to the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee on Dec. 21, asking the state's review board for large-scale energy projects to take the case.
A state government committee will decide in February the future of a proposed wind farm in the northwest part of town. Antrim Wind Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Portsmouth-based Eolian Renewable Energy wants to build 10 wind turbines on private land near Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain.
Two representatives for a Portuguese wind power company who came to the planning board Wednesday night for a hearing on their proposed meteorological tower found a group of 60 people from area towns, most of whom opposed new wind farm development.
Potential harms to tourism and the environment outweigh energy benefits because wind farms are not very efficient, said Tuthill, of New Hampshire Wind Watch. The turbines, which are more than 400 feet tall, can cause a decline in property values and may deter tourists who come to the region for its natural beauty, she said.
A moratorium would ensure that issues such as determination of need, local economic cost-versus-benefit analysis, and short- and long-term environmental impacts are all properly addressed with critical planning and evaluation processes, the association said.
First and most urgently, NLRA will reach out to our political representatives to advocate for a State-wide moratorium on commercial wind farm projects until the 2002 NH Energy Plan has been updated and the Site Evaluation Committee review and approval criteria revised. The Senate filing deadline is December 21, 2012.
Nationally, demand for electricity is leveling off as residential power use falls, experts say, reversing a long upward trend. More efficient lighting and electric devices are partly credited for the change. New homes also are being built to use less electricity and government subsidies ...help older homes use less power. Rourke said the weak economy also has contributed to reduced electricity use.