Should New Hampshire approve more wind farms?
By: LFDA Editor
Three electricity-producing wind farms operate in state of New Hampshire:
• The 12-turbine Lempster Wind Power Project, which opened in 2008
• The 33-turbine Granite Reliable Power site in Coos County, online since late 2011
• The 24-turbine Groton Wind Farm, which got cranking just after Christmas 2012
The wind farms in Lempster and Groton are each managed by Spanish wind energy company Iberdrola Renewables, while Vermont's Northeast Wind manages the Coos County site for owner Noble Environmental Power, based in Connecticut.
In late 2013 the state Fire Marshal and others filed complaints with the state Site Evaluation Committee, charging that Iberdrola failed to get proper approval for changes to the Groton Wind Farm construction plan. Iberdrola argued they followed state law by filing the changes with the Department of Environmental Services. In April the Fire Marshal and Groton Wind Farm reached a compromise; Iberdrola agreed to upgrade fire safety equipment. The Site Evaluation Committee is investigating the complaints and could still choose to suspend the operation license for the Groton Wind Farm.
In December 2013 Iberdrola Renewables also filed an application to build a 23-turbine wind farm in Alexandria and Danbury. The project faced opposition from local residents and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. In May 2014 Iberdrola announced they were abandoning that application due to a hostile regulatory and political climate in New Hampshire.
Another proposed wind farm, a 30-megawatt, 10-turbine wind project that would have spanned the ridge line of Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain in Antrim, was rejected by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee in 2013. The committee was concerned about the "unreasonable adverse (visual) effect" the wind farm would have on the New Hampshire Audubon's Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary.
Arguments in Favor of Wind Farms
Wind power supporters argue that wind farms are a clean, sustainable alternative to burning fossil fuels. Wind farms can also boost the local economy by creating jobs and providing tax revenue.
Supporters challenge reports that the noise from wind turbines is harmful to human health. In December 2009, the American Wind Energy Association released a report claiming the sounds generated by wind turbines are not harmful to human health.
Arguments Against Wind Farms
Critics argue that wind farms are ugly, cause destruction of many acres of mountain top forestation, and disturb the natural habitat in those locales.
There are also concerns wind turbines cause physiological harm to residents living nearby. Some people have reported sleep deprivation, headaches and vertigo.
Rep. Robert Cushing (D-Hampton) sponsored HB 1312, a 2014 bill to study off-shore wind farms. Gov. Hassan signed that bill into law July 17, 2014.
Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) was the prime sponsor of SB 281, a 2014 bill that would set limits on large wind farms. For example, SB 281 would limit the height of turbines to 250 feet. That bill passed the Senate, but the House voted May 7 to table the bill.
Rep. David Murotake (R-Nashua) sponsored HB 1456, a 2014 bill that requires the Site Evaluation Committee to deny any proposed energy facility with "unreasonable adverse effect on aesthetics, historic sites, air and water quality, the natural environment, and public health and safety," and to consider the views of town governments in any decisions. The House killed the bill in March 2014.
In late May 2014 the legislature resurrected wind farm guidelines as an amendment to HB 1602. The bill now requires the state Site Evaluation Committee to address scenic impacts, sound impacts, fire protection plans, and more when evaluating wind farm proposals. HB 1602 passed the House and Senate and heads to Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) for her signature.
A piece of legislation, HB 580
, was introduced in the 2013 session to establish "moratoriums on the construction of wind turbine plants and on electric transmission line projects until the state issues a comprehensive energy plan." The House killed that bill in January 2014.
In June 2013 Gov. Hassan signed SB 99
, which requires a study of the Site Evaluation Committee criteria for siting of wind farms and other electricity-generating facilities. That study is ongoing.
The following video is a panoramic view from atop a Stetson Wind Turbine in Danforth, Maine.
Do you think the state government should be promoting the use of wind farms? Let us know what you think...