The first utility-scale wind farm in New Hampshire won state approval yesterday.
The milestone means construction of the 400-foot-tall turbines on Lempster Mountain could begin by late summer, according to the developer.
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee issued a certificate of approval for the wind farm to be built and operated by Iberdrola Renewable Energies, a worldwide operator of wind power facilities.
That time line would allow Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA to start harvesting enough wind in 2008 to power 10,500 homes a year, said Ed Cherian, project manager for Lempster Wind.
“The wind resources there are outstanding,” he said.
The 12 wind turbines, each with three blades and visible from Route 10, will produce more than 75 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, according to Lempster Wind. The site is about 10 miles south of Newport, just southwest of Mount Sunapee.
It has generated controversy in this town of about 1,000 people, since Kevin and Debra Onnela were approached about a lease of their land in 2003. The Onnelas said the project makes sense given the demand for renewable energy. They have also said most people in town support it, despite opponents raising concerns over noise and the possibility of wildlife loss.
Cherian said there are no other state steps in the process. He said Iberdrola Renewable Energies must file a request with the Federal Energy Commission for connection to the power grid and complete a study of lighting for the turbines to satisfy the Federal Aviation Administration.
Lempster, with hardly a commercial tax base in town, requested the state review the project. Cherian said the company is negotiating a 20-year schedule of annual payments to the town.
Everett Thurber, chairman of the Lempster Board of Selectmen, said in a statement released by Lempster Wind that the state review was thorough. “There is overwhelming support for the wind project in Lempster,” he said. “We see it as benefitting our town.”
By Dan Tuohy
29 June 2007
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