March 04. 2013 10:38PM

Wind farms inspire email blast to NH lawmakers

Union Leader Correspondent

BRISTOL - New Hampshire WindWatch, a group opposing new wind power projects in the Newfound Lake-Cardigan Mountain region and statewide, conducted an email campaign over the weekend to state lawmakers scheduled to consider a statewide moratorium for wind farm projects.

The group, which claims to have about 1,800 members, is sending several members to the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee meeting today, at which bills relating to power projects in the state are coming up for a vote.

WindWatch is supporting HB 580, sponsored by Rep. Harold "Skip" Reilly Sr., R-Grafton County District 8, and co-sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Forrester, R-Belknap District 2. It calls for a moratorium on commercial wind projects until the state issues a new comprehensive energy plan.

"I am not exaggerating, I received more than 1,000 emails in the past few days from people in favor of the moratorium," Reilly said. "I think, since I sponsored the bill, I've had six or eight people write to me who are opposed to it."

Representatives of the two companies proposing new wind power projects in the Newfound area - Iberdrola Renewables of Spain and EBD Renewables of Portugal - have also made their opinions on wind power-related legislation known to the House committee and its members, and company representatives have been present at recent hearings.

The companies' wind power project proposals are similar to one used to build Iberdrola's 24-turbine, $120 million, 48-megawatt wind farm project in Groton last year. Groton selectmen signed a 15-year-agreement for the project that benefits town taxpayers substantially. The project is built on leased private property.

Under the state's current laws and its decade-old Renewable Portfolio Standard, the companies could build wind farms without the consent of the communities involved, with the ultimate approval authority falling on the Site Evaluation Committee, or SEC.

WindWatch President Lori Lerner said the group believes the developers are taking advantage of out-of-date state energy plans and the Renewable Portfolio Standard, she said.

The two company's proposals would place as many as 62 lighted, 40-story wind turbines just below ridgelines around Newfound Lake and near Cardigan Mountain.

"Many of these legislators may look around Concord or Manchester and say, 'These things wouldn't be so bad,' and in a city, you probably wouldn't notice them so much," Lerner said.

"They have to consider that these huge towers are being put on mountains in the heart of our Lakes Region and in the foothills of our White Mountains, places that make New Hampshire special."