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January 11, 2014

NH group seeks delay in wind plan

CONCORD, N.H. — A forest preservation group yesterday asked New Hampshire to put the brakes on its review of a wind turbine proposal until new siting guidelines are completed.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests filed a motion asking the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to suspend its review of the Wild Meadows project. The society told The Associated Press the review should wait while the state’s Site Evaluation Committee regulations are being revised.

“Now is not the time to push through an important project,” said Jack Savage, a spokesman for the society. “It’s time to step back, wait for the process to be fixed and then move forward. We’re not objecting to the project itself.”

Wild Meadows is a project of energy giant Iberdrola Renewables, which also operates a similar wind farm in Lempster and is bringing a 24-unit farm online in Groton. Wild Meadows calls for 23 turbines, each 492 feet tall, in Danbury and Alexandria. State officials look at such projects as important steps toward generating 25 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2025.

Iberdrola filed its application for a Site Evaluation Committee certificate last month.

Calls seeking comment from the SEC and Iberdrola were not immediately returned yesterday afternoon.

When the project was first proposed near the end of 2012, company officials said most of the turbines will be at least 4 miles away from Newfound Lake and not visible to most people in that area. They said a three-year study done by Iberdrola under the direction of the state Fish and Game Department found no special or unique habitats on the proposed turbine site, and that the turbines themselves would not pose a threat to migratory birds.

Last year, the New Hampshire legislature ordered the state’s Office of Energy and Planning to review the SEC’s siting process, which had been criticized as outdated. New administrative rules are to be adopted no later than Jan. 1, 2015.

The forest society has not sought such delays in previous wind projects in Antrim and Lempster.

“What we have said as a policy is that we think there is a role for wind to play in New Hampshire’s energy future but we have advocated that the state should not be considering more projects until the process is fixed,” Savage said.

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