EDP renewables, a company based in Portugal that operates 3,600 Megawatts of wind power in the US, has proposed a 29-turbine wind farm for five towns in the Newfound region. So for many in that area town meeting season is an opportunity to express their opposition to wind farms.
But how? Strategies vary. While some in those towns are sticking to more traditional forms of opposition, others are using town meeting to declare themselves ready to employ civil disobedience to stop the project.
It would be easy to miss Millsfield. The unincorporated place in the North Country is home to 10 households, many of which are tucked away in the woods, and just two businesses, a bed and breakfast called A Peace of Heaven and the Log Haven restaurant.
“Electricity didn’t show up until the 60s,” said Luc Cote, who’s lived in Millsfield for roughly forty years. “Phone line didn’t come up until mid-60s as well.”
At town meeting this year, a handful of towns in the Newfound Lake region, and elsewhere, will take up questions related to wind farms. Many of these articles highlight the tensions between neighboring towns when one hosts a wind farm and its tax benefits, and the other just has to look at it. This dynamic often plays out in small town politics that may come to a head on town meeting day.
New Hampshire’s energy community turned out at a Senate hearing on Wednesday to react to a senate bill proposing changes to the Site Evaluation Committee, which approves power plants. The proposed changes include shrinking the SEC to five members, including two public representatives, hiring dedicated support staff, and requiring projects have a net public benefit.
The state’s House of Representatives has voted 194-148 to kill a bill that would have established a moratorium on wind farms and new transmission line projects, including Northern Pass.
This vote fell along party lines, with Democrats largely voting against blocking all projects, and Republicans, like Skip Reilly of Hill arguing that now is the time to wait -- for the state to complete its forthcoming energy plan.
"Remember we are elected by our constituents to serve them, not some power company."
After a year of redesigns, the Wild Meadows Wind Farm has submitted its state application to be built in the towns of Alexandria and Danbury. But in the past 18 months, the ground has shifted dramatically beneath the feet of the industry in New Hampshire, these days uncertain winds swirl around the proposal.
On a recent fall day, Ed Cherian with the Spanish renewable energy giant Iberdrola gave a tour of his company’s Groton wind farm to a group of students from the New Hampton School. One of the blades whistles as it spins a sign that a condensation flap is stuck open.
A group that opposes wind development in New Hampshire says another wind farm is in the works for New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Members of New Hampshire Wind Watch say that a subsidiary of a German company, called Juwi Wind, has signed a lease for 1,300 acres of land Groton, for the purpose of building a wind farm.
Opponents of proposed wind farms in the Newfound Lake region are getting organized. They hope that they’re forming the foundation of a state-wide anti-wind effort. Newfound Lake Wind Watch has changed its name to New Hampshire Wind Watch: it has a new website, work committees, petitions and letter writing campaigns.
There’s a third wind farm in the works in the Newfound Lake Region. Portuguese Wind company EDP renewables is studying wind potential in the towns of Groton and Alexandria. The zoning board and selectmen in Groton have voted to allow EDP to install a meteorological tower, which is one of many steps on the road toward proposing a wind farm.
Bob Piehler – part of a group of activists from around Newfound lake opposes any new wind project in the region – says EDP showed a mockup of where the potential turbines could be placed.
A proposed wind farm in the Newfound lake area has once again raised familiar themes in New Hampsire: A desire for the Granite state to use more clean energy, versus local concerns over property values, as well as impacts on the environment and tourism. We’ll re-examine these arguments in light of this new proposal.
Lempster hosts the oldest operating wind farm in the state, which has 12 turbines. The most recently proposed operation would have three times as many turbines, and be located in Alexandria, Grafton, and Dunbarton
The towns of Alexandria, Danbury, and Grafton are weighing if they want a 36 turbine wind farm along their ridgelines.
It’s a contentious decision the town of Lempster approved in 2007. That project has been operating for four years, and it's the closest thing New Hampshire has to an analog for the decision these three towns are now facing.
When representatives from the Spanish energy company Iberdrola Renewables meet with people in Alexandria, Grafton and Danbury, it gets pretty heated.