Frank Edelblut’s “My Turn” piece (Monitor Forum, Dec. 5), urging the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee to approve a ridge-top wind farm in Antrim, is not up-to-date, is missing some important information, and lacks the due diligence and hard-nosed analysis that one would expect from a successful businessman such as Edelblut.
To begin, Edelblut overlooks some important information and does not support his claim that Antrim residents “have consistently supported the project.” Opinion in town is split but where townspeople have had a chance to officially vote, in every case, they have voted in opposition.
In 2011, Antrim voters rejected a zoning amendment that would have allowed large-scale wind-energy projects by a 501-309 margin, and rejected a similar 2012 zoning ordinance by a 350-244 margin. More definitive still, in 2014 and after the SEC denied the Antrim Wind Energy’s first application, voters rejected, 390-278, a wind-energy ordinance written by the wind developer.
Edelblut correctly states that when the current application was filed, the five state legislators (including himself) representing Antrim were “in unanimous support of the project.”
But times have changed. After last month’s election, the two new representatives (including one who replaced Edelblut) and the new state senator representing Antrim have all sent letters to the SEC opposing the project. Also, did Edelblut know that in the 2016 select board race, an intervener who opposed this project defeated the incumbent selectman who was the project’s foremost supporter?
Edelblut also claims that this wind project will provide “enough clean energy to power 12,300 homes per year” but fails to mention that power output is only achieved if the turbines are running 100 percent of the time. The normal electricity output for wind farms is much lower (30 to 33 percent), based on the actual performance of similar wind projects in New Hampshire.
Also, it is unclear whether Edelblut is aware that in the first power purchase agreement with the N.H. Electric Cooperative the price was so high that it has created controversy among the co-op members and will make New Hampshire even less energy competitive.
Edelblut also does not appear to have done his due diligence on critical financial and managerial aspects of the project. Is he aware that the developers have no experience in developing a wind project (it will be their first) and that, financially, the developers are highly leveraged with no firm commitments for financing yet in place, and with the largest partner (a German firm) facing serious financial problems?
In his claims of benefits to the town, Edelblut neglects to mention that an already signed Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement actually gives the wind project an 80 percent tax abatement based on its $65 million value and that the town will receive less than $400,000 per year, instead of $1.8 million per year (based on full market value) that any other business in town would have to pay.
The N.H. Site Evaluation Committee is operating under new rules this year, but it should make the same decision as it did in 2013. It should deny this permit.
The only thing that has changed is this: The more we learn about wind farms, the less New Hampshire citizens like them.
(Brian R. Beihl and Charlene Stephens live in Antrim.)
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