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Lawmakers see another chance for wind farm reform

BRISTOL — As the 2014 legislative session wanes, two Lakes Region legislators are pushing bills aimed at improving the way the state deals with new wind farm applications and other power project proposals.

Rep. Harold "Skip" Reilly of Bristol was cheered at an Alexandria selectmen's meeting Tuesday when he said he is bringing last year's House Bill 580, which would establish moratoriums on wind turbine plants and electric transmission line projects until the state issues a comprehensive energy plan.

HB 580 was one of seven land-use, energy-related bills sent to a study committee last spring because of concerns that changes in the state's energy policy could have adverse economic consequences.

Reilly took part in a contentious meeting between residents of Alexandria and Iberdrola Renewables, the Spanish wind-power giant that has built the Groton Wind project and is proposing the Wild Meadows wind farm project for the Newfound Lake-Cardigan Mountain area.

A second wind farm is being proposed in the Newfound Lake area by a Portuguese developer.

Reilly said his bill was tabled by legislators who live in the southern part of the state and "don't know what's going on (in the Lakes Region)."

Legislators need to see what the Groton plant's wind towers have already done to the ridgelines in the northern part of the Lakes Region, he said.

Reilly's bill comes before the committee again for a vote Tuesday morning. He thinks some of his fellow Science and Technology Committee members may have changed their minds.

"I'm hoping," he said.

Also present at the Alexandria meeting was Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith. She is filing legislation that would take a close look at the state's Site Evaluation Committee, which deals with new applications for wind farms and other power-making proposals, such as the Northern Pass project.

"There's been an onslaught of new energy projects in the state. I just want to be sure the SEC has enough resources to handle all of it," she said.

dseufert@newstote.com


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