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Opponents of Wind Farms and of Northern Pass are backing an effort to explicitly require the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to consider effects on view sheds, home values, opinions of town governments and other factors, when permitting new energy projects.
One bill also includes an amendment that tacks on a one year moratorium on new projects while these changes are implemented.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Jeannie Forrester says people who worry that the bill would chill development should think of the chill she believes energy development could create.
“There is a chill on land values, a chill on home sales and a chill up and down the spines on New Hampshire residents as they consider if anyone is looking out for them.”
But proponents got pushback from Senator Bob Odell of Lempster, the town which hosts the state’s first wind farm. Odell asked several testifying if they could name one instance in which the state put a blanket moratorium on a specific kind of business.
Hebron Democrat Suzanne Smith is one of co-sponsors of the senate version of the bill. She said the moratorium is needed because the state committee that approves energy projects is underfunded and overwhelmed.
“With the increased number of energy projects proposed for New Hampshire in the coming years, the SEC is finding itself stretched, and I have very strong concerns that they will not be able to keep doing their work,” Smith told lawmakers.
But the chairman of the Site Evaluation Committee, Tom Burack disagrees. He says some of his comments about strains caused by budget cuts have been taken out of context.
“The bottom line is this,” Burack told the committee, “the SEC is fully able at the current time and into the future to continue to perform its statutory functions.”
A house committee voted earlier this month to retain several similar proposals in committee, so they could work on a comprehensive reform of the SEC over the summer.
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