The New Hampshire senate will be voting on an important moratorium bill, SB 99 tomorrow in full session. This bill will put a temporary halt to the approval of any industrial wind turbine approvals in the New Hampshire western highlands region and also, as the original bill proposed, any new transmission line projects.
The original SB 99 as proposed by Senator Jeannie Forrester (R) and Senator Jeff Woodburn (R) would have contained language referencing not only the wind industry projects but also the Northern Pass transmission line project. As noted on our post of the 25th, Senator Jeb Bradley bowed to the wishes of PSNH and the near wholly PSNH owned Manchester Chamber of Commerce and removed language pertinent to Northern Pass from SB 99.
Tomorrow the Senate will convene and voting will commence on Senate Bill 99 [note this version online does not represent the version with the Jeb Bradley amendment as passed by the Senate Energy Committee which will be what will go before the whole Senate] as amended by Jeb Bradley, both Senator Jeannie Forrester and Senator Jeff Woodburn have amendments to return language to the bill regarding Northern Pass. It is imperative that everyone, particularly those in the southern and eastern regions of the state call their senators and make them aware of this issue. Please tell our Senators to support the amendments proposed by either Sen. Woodburn or Sen. Forrester.
NH Wind Watch is asking that people focus on their local Senator to educate them on the importance of this bill for the future of New Hampshire. We will be posting testimony that was submitted from different stakeholders for your further information. Please make yourself familiar with the wind power issue as the industry has told many myths and half-truths that are easily debunked with the facts. We have a summary for your reference here: Top Ten Myths of Wind Power Generation. For more information on Northern Pass, refer here to our heavily linked article of June 12, 2012, Northern Pass – Not the Option for New Hampshire.
Here’s a list of some claims the industry and their supporters are making against a moratorium and our answers to that:
1. A moratorium bill will chill business.
Answer: This claim falls down in the face of the truth that where there’s a buck to be made, there is a group ready to exploit it. Its cynical and almost silly to propose that there won’t be an industry ready at some point to exploit a potential dollar to be made. The moratorium will allow the state and the stakeholders on all ends of the spectrum time to develop better policy renewable energy development that balances community needs with concerning economic balance, the responsibility of encouraging conservation and how to develop green energy and most importantly, what defines green energy and how to meet the ultimate goal of reducing green house gas emissions.
2. The Site Evaluation Committee does not need to stop operations in order to improve them.
Answer: While Mr. Burack, the chairman of the SEC did testify that although he had made statements in the past that reflected concern for the number of applications now coming, he carefully back-walked on these statements and said that while the committee is overhwelmed, it can still function.
Many believe that this statement alone reflects the troubling conflict of interest inherent in the structure today of the SEC. The undo influence and pressure that the industry is able to put upon the SEC is relfected in Mr. Burack’s waffly testimony. The SEC currently is an all volunteer group, their membership is made up mostly if former or current bureaucrats from various energy agencies in the state. These people have a tendency by virtue of the nature of their jobs which entail continue communication with the energy industry, to have very comfortable and familiar relationships with energy industry professionals.
It is especially troubling to many that like many review agencies, stakeholders in the community do not have a place at the table, but instead are relegated to a reactionary role in the process and not empowered as equal partners. How this process has taken place is demonstrated by the very quick slide-through of the Jericho Wind Project in Berlin New Hampshire, wherein few if any members of the public participated, only a notice in the public notices section of the paper informed on the one public hearing. Jericho Wind was approved and the wind industry succeeded in evading the larger approval process because of the lax rules that exist today.
What is the motivation to continue on with a process that doesn’t work? What is the motivation to continue to put New Hampshire’s fragile economy at risk? What is the motivation to pass projects that will change the New Hampshire landscape forever? Possibly we’d want to take a lesson from our country’s past when it comes to listening to or allowing industry to decide what’s best for the planet and for a region?
3. The only people against wind are ignorant NIMBY’s and tools of the Koch Brothers/coal industry.
The Sierra Club, 350.org and other national environmental organizations have worked hard to support wind energy as the easy alternative to coal. Unfortunately wind presents its own myriad problems including serious environmental threats to delicate mountaintop ecosystems. Land based wind has only an average 10% – 17% efficiency and thus can’t replace dependence on coal, oil or gas or even make a serious dent in use.
In addition, true conservation includes community empowerment. What is the difference between the global coal industry that grew up with the tacit support of governments ignorant of its effects in the beginning and now dependent on its income today? Do we want to develop a dependance on another form of destructive, poorly performing energy that will change our natural landscape forever? Have we not learned from our past mistakes?
The mere fact that the wind industry has support from major energy producers who currently rely on coal should send a strong hint that just possibly even they don’t see wind as a threat. Instead its another area to exploit for quick profits — communities and the environment be damned: business as usual.
Please call your Senator today and tell them to support SB 99 — particularly the amended versions that will put all new transmission line construction back into the bill.
We have word that the following Senators need particular attention:
Senator David Boutin – Concerned about renewable energy and following the RPS, asked the question, “So if you’re not for wind and solar hasn’t worked in forty years, what are you for?” This question needs your answer.
Senator Nancy Stiles – position not known at this time
Senator Martha Fuller Clark – Senator Martha Clark has a strong history of environmental concern and has been sitting on the fence on this issue. Please call Senator Fuller-Clark and let her know that wind does not represent viable green energy and that disempowering communities is not the way to move forward on renewable energy development.
Senator Bob Odell – Mr. Odell claims confidence in the SEC process and also claims that his community has “learned to live with” the turbines in Lempster on Lempster Mountain. We’d dispute Mr. Odell’s assessment of wind as being something people must get used to, also there’s no doubt that a difference exists between 12 wind turbines on a hill top and residents being surrounded with as many as 75 wind turbines in all directions.
Tell Mr. ODell that industry will come after the moratorium and that the democratic process for the approval of wind and energy projects is broken and needs serious fixing. In addition, let Mr. ODell know that tourists don’t have to “live with” wind turbines — they can just choose to go somewhere else on vacation and those considering home purchases will consider other areas.
Call your senators now! If the Senator cannot be reached, talk to their secretary as also, see if you can get their cell number. Ask their aid where they stand on the issue.
Also, for further information you can talk directly to the sponsors of the original SB 99:
Senator Jeannie Forrester : Her office aid Liz in Senator Forrester’s Concord office is very knowledgeable and helpful as well. Senator Forrester comes from the Newfound Lake region and represents land owners and businesses that thrive and prosper on the pristine environment of the western highlands and Newfound Lake region.
Senator Jeff Woodburn: A man represents the largest district in New Hampshire encompassing Coos County and more communities than any other senator, Sen. Woodburn has been out in front in the battle against Northern Pass and joins the effort against the onslaught of the wind industry as well.