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N.H. House To Take Up Wind, Transmission Moratorium

Sam Evans-Brown

Wednesday the New Hampshire House of Representatives will take up a bill proposing a moratorium on wind turbines and electric transmission projects.

The Science, Technology, and Energy Committee voted 13 to 6 to recommend killing this bill, which failed to make it to the House floor last year, but the politics surrounding wind farms and Northern Pass have become volatile.

Not taking any chances wind advocates and renewable energy boosters Environment New Hampshire released a report touting the benefits of wind power ahead of the vote and scheduled press call featuring wind developers and a sympathetic politician.

“An energy source that requires no fuel, no combustion, no greenhouse gas emissions, and no legacy of deadly nuclear waste has a lot going for it from the get-go,” said Manchester Democrat Bob Backus, who supports revamping how the state approves wind projects, but opposes the moratorium.

But the House of Representatives does at times override committee recommendations, which is what wind opponents are hoping for Wednesday. 

“Coal accounts for 83 percent of the utility emissions in the country,” says Larry Goodman, a member of New Hampshire Wind Watch, “but you can’t convert coal to wind.”

Goodman listened in on Environment New Hampshire’s press call, and owns a second home in Hebron, which would feature views of the proposed Wild Meadows wind farm. He says because wind is intermittent, new wind farms won’t result in fossil fuel plants shutting down, and the massive towers will spoil the state’s natural beauty. He says he favors other renewables that can be “dispatched.”

“There’s biomass which you can turn on-and-off as a high capacity renewable. There’s hydro which you can turn on-and-off as a high capacity renewable. But wind does not have those same attributes,” says Goodman.

The bill would also place a moratorium on electric transmission lines, such as the proposed Northern Pass project that would connect the New England and Canadian markets.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.
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