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December 18. 2012 9:14PM

Wind power growth on coastline not a breeze

GREENLAND - The 18 or so miles of New Hampshire's coastline offer ample space and opportunity to harness offshore wind power, according to advocates.

In a report issued Tuesday, Environment New Hampshire outlined what it sees as the benefits of wind power for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving away from fossil fuels to renewable forms of power.

Despite the opportunities some see, many municipalities in the state have seen great opposition to wind power, even in the town of Greenland, where a press conference on the report was held Tuesday.

Outside of Seacoast Volkswagen, a small, helix-shaped wind turbine generates a small amount of power for the dealership, in addition to a solar array on the roof.

Dealership owner Doug Miles said he sought approval from the town of Greenland to install a much larger wind turbine on his property, but was shot down by a unanimous vote.

The helix turbine - standing at exactly 35 feet - was the largest one he could put up without needing a variance.

Earlier this month, the Newfound Lake Region Association called for a statewide moratorium on all proposed commercial wind projects.

A wind farm in Amherst has also garnered strong opposition.

But advocates say it is one of the best forms of renewable energy available, and are calling on Congress to renew federal tax credits that provide an incentive to businesses to invest in wind power.

Environment New Hampshire has been calling on its supporters to contact members of Congress and ask them to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit before they expire at the end of the year.

"Our message to Congress is clear: 'You can't send wind power off the fiscal cliff', " Jessica O'Hare, an advocate with Environment New Hampshire said.

She said the tax credits are likely to be taken up with other, more pressing fiscal matters, not on their own.

New Hampshire's development of wind energy results largely from the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to provide 24.8 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2025 and the federal renewable energy production tax credit.

Miles said the tax credits made the payback timeframe on his investment reasonable, with a six-year payback on the wind turbine and a 4Ż-year payback on the solar array.

O'Hare said the tax credits help make wind power cost-competitive with other fuel prices.

A new Environment New Hampshire Research & Policy Center report shows that New Hampshire's current power generation from wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 9,000 cars off the road each year.

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Gretyl Macalaster may be reached at gmacalaster@newstote.com.



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