Environment
4:29 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Wind Moratorium Won't Make It Out Of Committee

While wind opponents were frustrated today, the committee's vote sets the stage for an omnibus bill to come forward next session to reform how the Site Evaluation Committee makes its decisions
While wind opponents were frustrated today, the committee's vote sets the stage for an omnibus bill to come forward next session to reform how the Site Evaluation Committee makes its decisions
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

New Hampshire’s legislature will not put a moratorium on new wind projects... at least not now. Today a house committee voted to work on the bill over the summer. 

Several members of the Science, Technology and Energy committee, like Meredith Republican Herbert Vadney, indicated support for a moratorium, because of the controversy bubbling around Newfound Lake.

Before the vote Vadney said, "we have some sites right now that are under threat, but we could retain this and not come up with an answer for quite some time and it would be too late for the people of Newfound Lake." 

But in the end, arguments like those of Barrington Democrat Ken Grossman won out. "The issues that underlie this bill have so much merit that we really need to take the additional time necessary to get this just right," said Grossman, to explain his position.

They voted 14 to 5 keep the bill in committee over the summer. Those voting to retain included the bill's primary sponsor, Skip Reilly. The five nay votes came from Republicans, though two GOP reps voted with the Democratic majority to support retention. 

In the meantime the lawmakers have sent a letter to the Site Evaluation Committee, which decides whether to approve new energy projects, asking them to update and rewrite the rules on wind farm permitting, to make the process more comprehensive.

Northern Pass Bills Retained Too

The committee also voted to retain another six bills aimed at changing how the SEC operates, including some inspired by the Northern Pass project. Some of the proposals included a moratorium on new transmission projects, requiring transmission-lines to be buried, and requiring the consent of the towns affected before granting the permit for a new energy facility.

Manchester Democrat Nick Levasseur voted with the majority to hold the bills in committee over the summer, slapping the table and saying  "It shows the business community that New Hampshire has a changeable and fickle government that would have policies in place to develop an entire sector, then the second it starts stops it."

Lawmakers will work on the bills over the summer, combining them into one bill that reforms the Site Evaluation Committee, the regulators that decide whether to grant permits to new energy projects.