Wind Power Restrictions
Four electricity-producing wind power plants operate in the state of New Hampshire:
- The 12-turbine Lempster Wind Power Project, which opened in 2008;
- The 33-turbine Granite Reliable Power site in Coos County, online since late 2011;
- The 24-turbine Groton Wind Farm, which got cranking just after Christmas 2012;
- The five turbine Jericho Power LLC site in Berlin, which started operating in early 2016.
The wind power plants in Lempster and Groton are each managed by Spanish wind energy company Iberdrola Renewables, while Canada's Brookfield Renwable Power operates the Coos County site. The Berlin project is managed by Massachusetts-based firm Solaya.
Controversy in Groton
In late 2013, the state fire marshal and others filed complaints with the state Site Evaluation Committee, charging that Iberdrola failed to get proper approval for changes to the Groton Wind Farm construction plan. Iberdrola argued they followed state law by filing the changes with the Department of Environmental Services. In April, the fire marshal and Groton Wind Farm reached a compromise; Iberdrola agreed to upgrade fire safety equipment. The Site Evaluation Committee closed its investigation into the Groton facility in June 2015.
In December 2013, Iberdrola Renewables also filed an application to build a 23-turbine wind power plant in Alexandria and Danbury. The project faced opposition from local residents and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. In May 2014, Iberdrola announced they were abandoning that application due to a hostile regulatory and political climate in New Hampshire.
A 30-megawatt, 10-turbine wind project spanning the ridge line of Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain in Antrim was originally rejected by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee in 2013. The committee was concerned about the "unreasonable adverse (visual) effect" the project would have on the area. In 2016, the SEC approved a revised plan for a nine-turbine windfarm in Antrim. The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld this decision in May 2018 and construction on the project commenced that summer.
In 2013, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed SB 99, requiring the Site Evaluation Committee to direct a study of site evaluation criteria and establishing a committee to study the criteria for siting of wind turbines and other electricity-generating facilities. That process was completed in 2015 and the updated rules can be seen here. In 2017, Gov. Sununu signed HB 337, which gives the Site Evaluation Committee the power to regulate the noise level of small wind turbines.
"NH should encourage further wind power development."
- Wind power supporters argue that wind farms are a clean, sustainable alternative to burning fossil fuels.
- Wind farms can also boost the local economy by creating jobs and providing tax revenue.
- Supporters challenge reports that the noise from wind turbines is harmful to human health. In December 2009, the American Wind Energy Association released a report claiming the sounds generated by wind turbines are not harmful to human health.
"NH should restrict further wind power development."
- Critics argue that wind power plants are ugly, cause destruction of many acres of mountain top forestation, and disturb the natural habitat in those locales.
- There are also concerns wind turbines cause physiological harm to residents living nearby. Some people have reported sleep deprivation, headaches and vertigo.