On Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Goshen-Lempster School in Lempster, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) will conduct a public hearing so citizens can question the Lempster Wind LLC industrial wind power plant proposal to place 12 40-story wind turbines along the ridges of Lempster and Bean mountains.
This public hearing will be the first time the SEC members have an opportunity to hear how people feel about the exploitation of the state’s mountain ridges for wind power plant development.
While you’re reading this, if you glance out your window at a mountain ridge that you’ve grown to love and value, you should think about attending this meeting and voicing your opinion about mountain ridge protection.
In 1994, the Legislature recognized the value of its lakes and rivers, and fortunately, it enacted the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act RSA 483-B. Is it time for the state to create similar regulations to protect its mountain ridges?
Tourism is New Hampshire’s greatest economic engine. When was the last time a tourist asked directions to a power plant instead of to one of New Hampshire’s scenic mountain vistas?
Although communities have enacted zoning regulations to protect the mountain ridges within their borders by restricting the height of facilities proposed to be built there, sadly, others haven’t recognized the threat that projects like the Lempster wind power plant are to the character of their community.
Often the first time someone learns their mountain view is under siege from wind power developers is when the developer files a building permit application. In the case of Lempster, without the intervention of the SEC, there would be no oversight of the project. Lempster has no zoning ordinances to protect any of its natural beauty.
State property tax assessors know the value of mountain views, and if you enjoy a view from your property, the property tax assessment of it is financial proof that mountain views are valuable and worth protecting.
However, who should control those views? Should a landowner of a mountain ridge be free to exploit the land for financial gain and by so doing pollute the visual landscape of the town simply because that landowner pays the property taxes? Some would say yes, but I disagree.
Are New Hampshire’s mountain views a public asset? Like lake front property owners, should owners of mountain ridges be held to a similar level of land stewardship? Other states have recognized the value of their unique scenic views and their legislators have enacted laws protecting their treasures.
Is New Hampshire’s historical obsession of minimal government intervention with property rights going to force us to stand by while one of the state’s most valuable assets is destroyed by wind power plant developers erecting turbines along the backbone of the state?
If you’re not aware of the mountain ridge assault occurring across the country from developers of wind power plants it is because this attack has been quietly orchestrated and coordinated by the American Wind Energy Association, the public relations and lobbying group representing the wind power industry.
It’s estimated that there are 10,000 wind power plant projects in various stages of the permitting process within the country, and recently, the number of new permits filed with the FAA has doubled every year.
Admittedly, there are positive benefits derived from wind power. But the majority of the projects proposed for development in New England are purely tax-motivated investment vehicles which will add little electricity to the New England power grid when the power is needed.
Presently, the SEC is weighing whether the amount of electricity the Lempster project will produce is worth the project’s environmental and aesthetic trade-offs. On Lempster and Bean mountains, the wind reaches its maximum velocity during winter nights when electrical demand in New England is at its lowest level.
Is sacrificing any of New Hampshire’s mountain ridges for wind turbine placement a wise exchange for the minimal amount of electrical power these facilities will produce? I believe it is not.
If you have an opinion, share it with your legislator then come to Lempster and tell your thoughts to the SEC board members Oct. 30.
Jeff Dwyer, a literary agent and real estate developer, has spent the last 20 years living in Lempster.
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