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New Ipswich, Temple say they should decide on wind farm

New Ipswich and Temple officials are encouraging the public to attend a Public Utilities Commission hearing in Concord Monday on Timbertop Wind Energy’s request to have the state take jurisdiction over a proposed wind farm in the two towns.

Timbertop Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Pioneer Green Energy of Texas, hopes to build a $25 million project that would include five, three-megawatt Siemens wind turbines – two in New Ipswich and three in Temple.

In New Hampshire, any wind project that totals more than 30 megawatts automatically comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Services’ Site Evaluation Committee.

The Temple/New Ipswich project is only 15 megawatts, so Timbertop Wind had to petition the SEC to decide on its application, effectively bypassing the local planning and zoning boards.

According to documents filed with the Department of Environmental Services by attorney Thomas B. Getz supporting Timbertop’s petition, the towns’ ordinances requiring setbacks, lighting requirements and noise limitations are more stringent than those imposed by the SEC and state law.

Also, because the wind farm covers land in two towns, the attorney argued, the issue is a regional one and should be handled at the state level.

Ed Dekker, vice-chair of the New Ipswich Planning Board, said Timbertop is simply trying to avoid having to answer to the people of Temple and New Ipswich. He is encouraging residents to attend Monday’s public hearing, the first of a series.

“We want to get affirmation that local control should remain local control,” said Dekker. “This project is below the scale required for the SEC to take jurisdiction.”

Dekker said Timbertop has also claimed that the proposed farm is too small for the town to regulate, and should be treated the same way that a windmill on someone’s personal property is treated.

“This is not a small wind farm,” said Dekker. “This is a large project.”

The towns and Timbertop’s attorneys have agreed to file written statements and not testify at Monday’s hearing, but members of the public and intervenors will be allowed to speak.

The hearing is at 10:30 a.m. at the N.H. Public Utilities Commission office, 21 South Fruit St., Suite 10, Concord.