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U.S. DOE commits $136M loan guarantee to New Hampshire wind farm

The U.S. Department of Energy said Tuesday it has granted a $136 million conditional loan guarantee to Granite Reliable Power for a 99-megawatt wind farm project in New Hampshire.

The wind farm will be located in northern New Hampshire, a rural area around 110 miles north of Concord. The project could generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes, but it could also draw resistance from local residents.

Other wind power projects have been slowed or killed after nearby residents complained that the turbines generated noise pollution and hurt property values. In Wisconsin, regulators delayed a proposed wind power project long enough to compel the operating company to back down. Connecticut killed a 3.2-megawatt wind farm after complaints about noise and flickering lights compelled state regulators to strike down the plan. And a wind farm in Maine may soon shut down because of a similar argument.

An independent study by the Maine Department of Environment Protection found that noise from wind turbines on Vinalhaven, a rural island off the state’s coast, registered between 46 and 47 decibels, just above the nightime noise pollution limit of 45 decibels. A typical conversation registers in at around 60 decibels, while typical street traffic registers in at around 70 decibels.

A University of California, Berkeley study funded by the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy showed property values in general didn’t decline when wind power farms were installed near homes, although it noted that individual home prices could be affected.

While some states are fighting tooth and nail to keep wind farms away from populated areas, others are welcoming them as a source of renewable energy. California produces the third most wind energy in the United States at 3,179 megawatts of power, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Texas is the largest provider of wind power, generating 10,135 megawatts of power, while Ohio is the second largest with 3,675 megawatts of power worth of wind turbines.

The Energy Department offers loan guarantees to help companies attract buyers and investors for renewable energy projects. Under the guarantee, the federal government will foot the bill if the project does not take off or is unable to get some kind of return for investors.