What started with a small, 12-turbine project in Lempster in 2008 has turned into a run on New Hampshire's ridgelines by large energy companies that want to cover our hills with scores of windmills. Some of them would reach 400 feet tall, 125 feet taller than New Hampshire's tallest building, City Hall Plaza in Manchester. As the scarring of New Hampshire hilltops accelerates, the politicians who promoted this have a lot to answer for.
In 2007, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, which created the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Legislators mandated that at least 16 percent of the state's energy production come from new "renewable" sources such as wind power by 2025 (25 percent from all renewable sources). Suddenly, New Hampshire needed windmills.
The law has cost more than views. Public Service of New Hampshire calculates that the RPS mandate has cost it $58.3 million since 2008. It projects another $19.2 million hit in 2013 alone. Ratepayers bear that burden.
Washington shares the blame. Federal tax credits for power produced by windmills go to huge energy corporations such as Spain's Iberdrola, the company behind several New Hampshire wind farms. A recent study by the Northbridge Group of Concord, Mass., concluded that the tax subsidy "encourages wind developers to locate wind farms with little regard to consumer demand, as long as they can be placed on line and their power brought to market to collect the subsidy," the National Center for Policy Analysis reported this week.
Do-gooders trying to force us to switch from coal to wind power have encouraged the industrialization of scenic New Hampshire ridgelines. That industrialization will not stop until these perverse government incentives are removed.