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Moratorium fails for wind, other projects in NH House

CONCORD — The House Wednesday refused to place a moratorium on wind turbine and electric transmission line projects while studies are completed to develop a state energy strategy and review the energy plant siting process.

Although House Bill 580 as written would have applied to the Northern Pass project as well as wind plants, had the move to kill it been rejected, proponents would have amended the bill to have it apply only to wind projects.

The vote to kill the bill was 194-148.

Rep. Robert Backus, D-Manchester, said that while wind power “isn’t perfect” and its reliability is intermittent, “it does make a contribution” in reducing pollutions.

The bill established a moratorium until the state issues a comprehensive energy plan; an advisory committee is scheduled to issue such a plan by Sept. 1.

As a result of that tight deadline, Backus said, the moratorium would not have “much practical impact.”

But he said a moratorium would “send a big sign that not only is New Hampshire anti-wind, but that it is also anti-business. He also said it’s a misnomer that windmills scar the landscape. He said he finds them pleasant to look at.

“I don’t think this is going to end the foliage season,” Backus said.

Harold Reilly, arguing in favor of a moratorium, said wind turbines are “spoiling our landscapes” and hurting the values of nearby properties.

Rep. Herbert Vadney, R-Meredith, said wind power is unreliable.

“All too often these turbines sit high on our ridge lines doing nothing except waiting for usable wind,” he said, noting in New Hampshire there is “usable wind” only 30 percent of the time.

Rep. Laurence Rappaport, R-Colebrook, backing a moratorium, said, “While we have a serious energy problem, commercial wind turbine development appears not to be the solution.”

He cited “the capriciousness of wind” and said that as a result, it is difficult to integrate wind power into the grid.

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