The controversial debate over wind farms and the Northern Pass project took center stage in Concord on Wednesday over a bill calling for a one-year moratorium on any new energy projects.
Many argued that such a moratorium would cripple an already struggling construction industry, but dozens turned out at the State House to make their voices heard.
“We are getting inundated,” said Brad Thompson, of Gilford. “It’s going too fast. It needs to slow down.”
With controversial wind farm projects under consideration in parts of the state, some said they fear the state’s site evaluation committee is stretched too thin. There is a growing call for a one-year moratorium on energy projects.
“A back off of one year, where the whole process could be looked at, evaluated and assessed and maybe changed in certain ways, would benefit everybody,” said Jennifer Tuthill, of New Hampshire Wind Watch.
“In the Newfound area, we have four projects within 15 to 20 miles with 110 turbines,” said wind farm opponent Gene Benk. “In my opinion, it would really, really hurt tourism and cause loss of jobs.”
But others said renewable energy projects can’t be slowed, or jobs will be lost.
“There’s a lot of people working on these projects right now or who look forward to working on them in the future,” said Joe Casey of the New Hampshire Building and Trades Council.
Casey called the moratorium a back-door attack on the Northern Pass project.
“If we put a moratorium on it when the construction industry is already stressed, this could be devastating to the industry,” he said.
But with project proposals popping up with increased frequency, supporters of the idea said a step back would be a thoughtful move.
“This is not about thumbs up or thumbs down on any specific project, it’s looking at the process by which we approve them,” said Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford.
Several similar bills are under consideration by Senate committees, which will make recommendations before the proposals are put to a full vote.