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Group opposing wind projects offers information

BRISTOL – A group opposing several wind power project proposals in the Lakes Region will host a public meeting tonight featuring a pro-wind power speaker who doesn’t think the proposed farms, or any wind farms, make sense in the mountains of New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Wind Watch will host “Issues with Wind Power in New England,” a presentation by Benjamin Luce at 7 p.m. at Newfound Regional High School in Bristol. The organization is a 1,300-member nonprofit formed by opponents to two proposed wind farm projects in the Newfound Lake/Cardigan Mountain region.

The meeting will be “an educational opportunity” that will be free and open to the public, said Wind Watch’s Lori Lerner.

Luce, a professor of physics and the chairman of the Sustainability Studies Program at Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vt., is a longtime researcher and advocate for renewable energy. He previously served as the director of the New Mexico Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, a job in which he advocated wind power and other renewable energy sources, Lerner said.

While Wind Watch members and others opposing the wind projects cite concerns about damaging the views in the tourism-based region and the potential for declining property values, Luce will be presenting “a scientific case against the development of industrial wind power on mountain ridgelines,” she said.

“He is pro-wind energy and he has backed wind farm projects in America, but as he will explain, he doesn’t think New Hampshire’s mountain ridges are properly suited for wind-power projects at all,” Lerner said.

Spanish wind-power company Iberdrola Renewables was granted permits last year for its 24-turbine, $120 million 48-megawatt wind farm project in Groton, which went online Dec. 31.

Groton selectmen signed a 15-year-agreement with the company that will pay the town $528,000, which is roughly equivalent to Groton’s most recent town budget, in the first year. Iberdrola is about to begin the state permitting process for its proposed 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 15- to 25-turbine wind farm in the towns of Groton, Alexandria, and Hebron.

The state’s Site Evaluation Committee, or SEC, which permitted the Groton wind farm, will be considering the proposed projects in the months ahead.

Opponents say the turbines, which are lit at night and are about the size of a 40-story building, will depress the local economy. Many are concerned by 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 Bridgewater’s board of selectmen. Meanwhile, Rep. Harold “Skip” Reilly, Sr., R-Grafton County District 8, has proposed a bill to the Legislature in this session that would put a moratorium on new wind-power projects until the state updates its energy plans.

The Lakes Region Planning Commission announced this week that it will also hold an informational meeting on the proposed wind-power projects with an attorney representing the SEC present on Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Bridgewater Town Hall. That meeting is open to all residents and town officials.

Wind Watch officials are requesting that RSVPs for their organization’s meeting be sent to info@nhwindwatch.org or be called in to the Wind Watch office in Bristol at 744-2300.