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December 06. 2012 10:43PM

Another View -- Raymond Cunningham: Wind turbines endanger the Newfound Lake region

This past summer I had the opportunity to view the construction of 24 industrial wind turbines being erected on the mountain ridges at the north end of Newfound Lake in Groton. Throughout the summer, I listened to neighbors, residents, tourists, real estate agents, preservationists and community activists who were very upset that so many of these eye sores are being erected around the lake. The numbers are shocking.

A few weeks ago, Groton's industrial turbine blades started to spin; as they come online they produce electricity that will be transferred to other states. (New Hampshire generates more electricity annually than it uses, making it a net exporter of electricity). As these turbine blades in Groton began to spin, residents caught wind of an additional 67 industrial wind turbines proposed for the southwest part of the Newfound Lake.

This news made residents jump - and take action! They formed a group called "Newfound Lake Wind Watch," which quickly morphed into "New Hampshire Wind Watch" (NHWW) to help inform people of other lakes communities in New Hampshire. They are appealing to protect the region's historic landmarks, watersheds, rivers and landscapes against harmful wind turbine developments. Residents are concerned that 91 industrial wind turbines are too big, too much and too close to the lake.

Many residents fear that the Newfound Lake area is being targeted. They already have two renewable energy biomass facilities in the area: 1) Bridgewater Power Company and 2) Hemphill Power and Light Company, both of which provide electricity to Public Service of New Hampshire. Both pump millions of dollars into our local economy as foresters, loggers and chippers work to meet the demand for the fuel stock. The latest addition is the Groton industrial wind turbine factory in Groton. Residents feel that having three renewable energy companies in the region is enough: "We've done our part."

In November, residents generated more than 1,200 letters of objection. That's a big number for these small, rural towns.

As residents learn more about these two new projects, uglier facts come forth: the lack off sufficient funding for decommissioning the towers, the costs of the transfer station and power line upgrades, miles of new transmission lines to connect the wind turbines to the grid, and an increase in electrical rates.

These towering wind factories will permanently scar the scenic beauty of one of New Hampshire's pristine jewels. New Hampshire Wind Watch is not alone in this fight: The Town of Bridgewater and the Newfound Lake Region Association (NLRA) in Bristol both oppose these two projects at the southwestern part of the lake. They are urging state politicians and local planning officers to continue with their courageous and independent stance on these next two industrial wind turbine factories.

When I first heard what was happening, I started to educate myself on wind turbine factories. I found that contrary to the wind industry experts, there's evidence, globally, that none of this is about saving the planet for our grandchildren, reducing our dependency on foreign oil or reducing our carbon footprint. It's about reducing their tax bill through government tax credits and tax breaks.

These wind farms deprive many residents of any say in what happens where they live, potentially expropriating without compensation part or much of their life savings, and affecting the health of some people. Our grandchildren will inherit this entire mess.

The time is overdue that the deception and dishonesty of the government with respect to industrial wind turbines be exposed and that the people of New Hampshire learn the truth about the inadequate regulations that are seriously affecting the rural citizens of this state and their livelihoods. If New Hampshire is truly committed to the power of wind, why not have the state open the White Mountains, Franconia Notch, Mt Washington and the Old Man of the Mountain location for more dependable sources of sustained wind?

Let's face it, the wind does not blow all of the time. The trouble is, it doesn't need to if taxpayers are on the hook.

If these two new projects are allowed, Newfound Lake will be the industrial wind turbine capital of New England with more than 90 units within 11 miles of each other for the next 15-20 years. I would encourage anyone with a question to visit www.nhwindwatch.org. You can also visit them on Facebook under "Newfound Lake Wind Watch."

Raymond Cunningham lives in Andover, Mass. His family has had a home on Newfound Lake in Bridgewater since the 1970s.


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