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Three New Hampshire towns vote for local control over wind farm projects

Members of New Hampshire Wind Watch and the Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort say town elections in Newfound Lake-Cardigan Mountain-area towns show that residents don’t want wind farms in the scenic, tourist-dependent area.

“These are solid results and should send a strong message that once again, our region has made it clear, it does not want any more industrial wind projects,” said Lori Lerner, president of Wind Watch.

In Tuesday’s elections, three area towns adopted a “Community Bill of Rights” or rights-based ordinances asserting towns’ rights to local self-governance and with rules banning unsustainable energy projects.

The ordinances were voted in 320-119 in Alexandria, 264-124 in Danbury, and 88-17 in Hebron.

The state’s Site Evaluation Committee presently has siting authority for large wind-energy projects, but the rights-based ordinances seek to assert local control. According to local advocates of rights-based ordinances, similar ordinances have been instituted in several towns in the state, but have not yet been tested in New Hampshire courts.

One wind farm, Wild Meadows, is being proposed for Alexandria and Danbury by Spanish company Iberdrola Renewables. Another, Spruce Ridge, is proposed for the towns of Groton, Alexandria, Hebron and Orange from Portuguese company EDP Renewables.

Last year, residents in Alexandria, Grafton and Bridgewater passed warrant articles by 2-1 margins or more either opposing new wind farms in the area or demanding that companies post security bonds for removing wind power facilities when their life is complete.

The ordinances are designed to “eliminate corporate ‘rights’ at the municipal level,” said Michelle Sanborn of Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort. They will protect towns from companies “when they violate Community Rights to clean air and water, local self-governance, and the rights of nature,” she said.