Residents of New Hampshire have yet another chance to save the mountaintops of the western highlands region of the state from destruction. On Wednesday the full New Hampshire house will hold hearings and then vote on SB-99 in its amended form and a new amendment to HB-2.
SB-99, once the moratorium bill has emerged from the Senate Energy Committee transformed into an entirely different bill. In an apparent compromise, Senator Bradley’s proposal to exclude transmission lines in the moratorium did not survive. Although transmission lines (pertaining of course to the Northern Pass project) did get back into the moratorium bill, this only occurred with the exclusion of the moratorium demand entirely. In its place the Senate inserted language to create a committee be formed from members of the house and the senate.
Representative Neal Kurk, of Weare has proposed an amendment to HB-2 which will put in place a moratorium and will read: (this is the proposed draft):
““Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, there are here by established moratoriums on the constructions of wind turbine plants and electric transmission line projects in the state of New Hampshire until July 1, 2014. The site evaluation committee, established in RSA 162-H:3, shall issue no certificates for wind turbine plants or electric transmission line projects under RSA 162-H while such moratoriums are in effect.”
Everyone needs to call or email their representative TODAY or TONIGHT to let them know that wind turbines will have a serious, irreversible effect on our environment, our natural landscape and resultingly our economy statewide. This is not a regional issue but a serious statewide issue. A moratorium will temporarily halt approval of turbine development until further study and due process on research can commence without pressure or undo influence from the wind industry. Click on the link below for an easy to use search tool to find your representative and their contact information. The representatives have heard the opinion and propaganda of the paid lobbyists for the wind industry, have they heard from you?
This committee already has come together and recommended right out the gate that the Site Evaluation Committee adopt the Proposed Wind Siting Guidelines (.pdf) that a consortium of industry and state agency persons created in 2007. Of course, demonstrating its hesitance to take an objective stand on wind energy, the SEC decided immediately to not adopt the siting guidelines. This despite a March 3, 2013 petition directly from the house Science, Energy and Technology Committee, requesting that the SEC adopt the 2007 proposed guidelines.
Currently there exists no guidelines for siting wind turbines, no consideration for environmental impacts and a very poor, non-democratic methodology for public input and even announcement and planning of public hearings. As per testimony from March 29, 2013 of Lisa Linowes, intervener on many turbine hearings:
“No definitions are provided in either the Statute or the Committee’s rules which explain specific studies to be conducted by the Applicant in order to demonstrate, for example, the impact of the proposed facility on the environment. And no requirements address standards for conducting appropriate post-construction surveys. Since siting of wind power facilities presents challenges that are different from those faced by other types of energy facilities, there are well established protocols for conducting studies that aim to predict and address the impacts. Siting guidelines would help the SEC, State Agencies, and Applicants in deciding what studies should be conducted and the protocols to be followed PRIOR to an application being submitted. In some cases the SEC has required that additional studies be conducted after a project is permitted. This process is inherently unfair to the public and unduly discriminates against the public’s involvement.”
Currently the SEC has complete control over who testifies and acts as an “intervener” on behalf of the public by function of their intervener approval process. In addition, public hearing notices receive publication in the rarely read legal notices section of newspapers in the hosting area region. In Berlin for example, it appears through reading the notes of the one hearing, that the presence of the Berlin city planner was considered sufficient public presence. Thus the committee was able to rationalize the public’s approval and move forward with industry testimony and nothing from concerned citizens.