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Blowing in the wind…

Monday I drove to Concord, NH to attend a hearing.  There is a proposed wind farm going up in Temple and our neighboring town, New Ipswich.  I have not paid much attention to this issue until it became frighteningly clear that three of the towers would have a direct impact on my quality of life.

The proposed project has gone off the rails because the developer wants the State to provide oversight rather than the two towns being impacted.  There are a lot of reasons for this, most of them are bad.  While the towns would still have input, the cost to the towns would be much higher.  They would be in the position of paying for additional research and legal counsel to support their position in a case of disagreement with the state’s rulings and would lose overall control of the project.

I had read the ordinances both towns adopted regarding large wind energy systems.  While my knee-jerk reaction was the standard, “Not in my backyard!” I felt compelled to have at least a basic understanding of pros and cons of wind energy.

The meeting was well attended by my estimate; not standing room only but extra chairs were pulled out for those in the back of the room.  First, the public was invited to comment and several townspeople from Temple and New Ipswich spoke their minds on why jurisdiction should remain with the towns.  Two additional speakers were from an abutting town; Sharon, NH.  These gentlemen both discussed the potential impact on the Wapack Trail.  The Wapack is a twenty-one mile hiking trail that originates at Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, MA and ends in Greenfield, NH at The North Pack mountain.  It is a spur of the Appalachian Trial and at ninety years old, is one of the oldest interstate trails in the country.  It also forms  a Leading Line, a rare geological land occurrence that aids migrating birds.  This particular Leading Line is well documented as a route for raptors with as many as 6,000 counted in one day by the Audubon Society.  The ridge that forms part of this trail also serves as the back boundary of my property.

Following the public comment, testimony was heard from the lawyers for the wind energy company.  The town’s counsel spoke and rebutted many of their comments, then the company lawyers were allowed to provide closing comments.  

Overall, I felt the state committee was reasonable in their questions to the attorneys and it appeared to me that ultimately they would agree that the towns should have control of the project.  But I walked away with many more questions than I had started with.  Certainly in the winter, the towers will be visible from my home.  Perhaps even with the leaves on I will catch glimpses. From the distance, if well sited, they could almost be graceful and calming.   Will there be noise?  What will the construction do to my lovely country road?

Town politics and control are important to the social fabric of our country.  I am comfortable our officials will take all the necessary steps to insure that this project has the lowest possible impact on the region.  But, I moved here specifically to avoid the encroachment of civilization…

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