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Legislator wants halt to more wind farms

BRISTOL – A state representative has proposed legislation calling for a moratorium on all wind-power construction in New Hampshire until the state’s energy plan is updated to consider the growing number of proposed projects.

Rep. Harold “Skip” Reilly, R-Grafton County, submitted House Bill 391 on Wednesday. It says that the state’s Site Evaluation Committee “shall issue no certificate” until the state’s energy plan, which was enacted in 2002, has been revised.

The bill has several co-sponsors and will go to committee when the Legislature starts its new session in January, Reilly said.

“When they came up with the energy plan, they were dealing mostly with natural gas and other forms of alternative energy,” he said. “It’s time now to re-evaluate where we are going and come up with a comprehensive energy plan.”

The bill is in response to proposed wind-power projects in the Newfound Lake/Mount Cardigan area.

Spanish wind company Iberdrola Renewables has just completed a 24-turbine, $120 million 48-megawatt wind farm project in Groton.

Groton selectmen signed a 15-year agreement with the company that will pay the town $528,000 – roughly equivalent to Groton’s most recent town budget – in the first year. Each of the project’s 24 wind turbines will net the town $22,000 in the years that follow. The SEC issued permits for that project.

Iberdrola is about to begin the state permitting process for its second project in the area, the 37-turbine Wild Meadows Wind Power Project on leased land in the towns of Alexandria, Danbury, and Grafton.

Meanwhile, EDP Renewables of Portugal is proposing a wind farm in the towns of Groton, Alexandria, and Hebron, according to EDP Renewables Project Manager Jeffrey Nemeth. The project would build 15 to 25 turbines along ridgelines near where the three towns meet, just northwest of Newfound Lake and to the east of Mount Cardigan State Park.

The proposed projects have drawn protests from local residents, who fear that the views in the Newfound Lake and Mount Cardigan area would be damaged by the towers, which are lit at night and are about the size of a 40-story building. Residents worry that the local tourist economy would be depressed by the project, and fear environmental effects, such as the potential sound levels from the turbines.

The Newfound Lake Association has come out against the Wild Meadows project, as has nearby Bridgewater’s board of selectmen.

Reilly said he researched the newest proposed projects and found that they would not contribute much, if anything, to the state.

“We are exporting a lot of energy as it is, but we are not using that electricity and I don’t see that we would get anything out of these projects,” he said. “The companies, and a few land owners, are who benefits from this. Our electric rates aren’t helped at all.”

“They want to use our land and views, and we get nothing,” he said.