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Regulators Signal Support For N.H.'s First Big Solar Farm As Final Hearings Begin


State regulators didn't raise major concerns Friday at the start of final deliberations on New Hampshire’s first-ever major solar power project.

The 30-megawatt Chinook Solar array is proposed by Florida-based NextEra, which also owns Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. It would cover about 100 acres of private land in the small Monadnock Valley town of Fitzwilliam.

The electricity from the solar farm would serve all of New England, but its emissions benefits will count toward the climate change goals of the three Southern New England states, under a joint request for proposals.

In a virtual meeting Friday, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee took straw votes agreeing that they believe the project is financially and technically sound, and won’t have an unreasonable adverse effect on the environment, aesthetics or public health.

They also considered tweaks to conditions aimed at protecting endangered species, ensuring stable a decommissioning process and other issues, suggested by state agencies and the Attorney General’s office acting as Counsel for the Public. 

The SEC will still have to consider, when it continues its deliberations on Monday morning, whether the project serves the public good or will disrupt orderly development in its region. They may also take a final vote on whether to approve the project Monday. 

The "orderly development" condition is what sunk Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission line proposal, when it became the first project ever denied outright by the SEC in 2018.  

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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