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Green Building News

N.H. Town Blocks Big Wind

Danbury votes to prohibit energy projects that would threaten the ‘health, safety and welfare’ of town residents

Preserving a way of life. Residents of a small community in central New Hampshire have approved local ordinances aimed at protecting health and property values. The photo shows the South Danbury Christian Church.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Danbury, N.H., residents have voted in favor of four local ordinances that will make it tough to develop large scale wind projects in town.

At a town meeting March 11, voters adopted four proposals aimed at preserving the town’s rural character and the property values and health of its residents, according to an article in The Concord Monitor.

The Spanish energy company Iberdrola last month proposed building 23 turbines on a site above property owned by Jody Troiano, who had had inherited the property from her uncle. Toriano, until eight months ago a Boston resident, decided to fight the project to preserve the character of the property, The Monitor reported.

“This is a silent revolution sweeping the United States,” Troiano said. “Little towns like Danbury and Alexandria and Hebron that are trying to fight industry from coming into their towns and destroying the beauty, the rural way of life, whatever it may be.”

According to the newspaper, the proposals would:

  • Bar new energy projects that would threaten citizen rights to “health, safety and welfare.”
  • Advise selectmen that residents oppose a favorable tax deal with wind developers.
  • Require developers to post a bond that would pay for removing equipment if the project ceased operating.
  • Require developers to give residents within three miles of the project a “property value guarantee.”

7 Comments

  1. Flitch Plate | | #1

    Independent energy
    Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, small towns --- with a habitual dependence on the grid, at the mercy of regulatory agencies, price fixing, geopolitics and big business energy suppliers --- are missing the opportunity to have independent and secure energy sources. Danbury has <1200 population.

    http://www.nhes.nh.gov/elmi/products/cp/profiles-htm/danbury.htm

    I understand completely when they don’t want outside-owned installations, but if they have the sun and wind, why not scale down and do in yourself? Even commercial scale ground source heat pumps.

    New Hampshire seems to be lagging behind its neighbours. The New England states can be compared here:

    http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/newengland/astate_template.asp?stateab=nh

    Green house gases and climate change are also a health and well being concern. Danbury could scale that project down significantly, with smaller generators, fewer of them, lower capital cost, less environmental aggravation and do themselves a favor:

    http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/renewable-energy/wind/wind-energy-facts.html#c
    How many homes can a wind turbine power?

    A single 1 MW turbine on land can provide enough electricity to power 225 to 300 households. A single 1 MW turbine in an offshore wind farm, where the wind blows harder and more consistently, can power more than 400 households.

    How much carbon dioxide does a wind energy turbine offset?

    1 MW of wind energy can offset approximately 2,600 tons.

  2. Flitch Plate | | #2

    proves the point
    Look at this other GBA news story, today ... its the same company screwing the people in Maine ... and so making a case for localized independent enregy production. Maine Central is owned by the same company that Danbury rejected (Iberdrola USA, a Spanish-owned holding company):

    https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/green-building-news/maine-utility-seeks-surcharge-renewables

    Maine Utility Seeks Surcharge for Renewables

    Central Maine Power asks regulators for permission to impose a ‘standby charge’ for customers who generate some of their own power

    Grid-tied small scale producers are going to find the PUC's favoring the grid owners; allowing them to add progressively greater surcharges and capital cost requirements in all jurisdictions.

  3. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    Wind power in rural areas
    In Sheffield, Vermont (population 703), taxes from the local wind farm provide the small community with $500,000 a year -- enough to offset the community's entire non-school municipal budget, while still putting away half of the windfall into a long-term "rainy day" fund for the town's future needs.

    The facility is also producing enough electricity on an annual basis to supply the electrical needs of every house in Caledonia County.

  4. Rico Ball | | #4

    N.H. Town Blocks Big Wind
    New Hampshire has a statute in place, RSA 162-H ENERGY FACILITY EVALUATION, SITING, CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION, that will preempt local regulation of big wind energy facilities. The "Community Right" votes taken in a number of towns that attempt to exert local authority have no basis in state law. NH is not a home rule state; municipalities have only those powers delegated to them by the legislature. A number of towns attempted to pass similar ordinances that would have regulated large groundwater withdrawals and were unsuccessful.

    It's not that I don't agree with these efforts to exert some local control, the enabling legislation needs to be changed that would grant towns more authority.

    http://www.laconiadailysun.com/index.php/opinion/letters/75987-michelle-sanborn-3-17-336

  5. David Meiland | | #5

    So...
    ... what type of power generation are they in favor of? Anything that happens not in their back yard?

  6. Rico Ball | | #6

    Re: So...
    Great questions - I'm not sure that there's a clear answer. Many of the same towns in NH also oppose Northern Pass, a powerline bringing power from HydroQuebec. Much of the anguish in these towns is the reality of a large corporation coming in and despoiling the natural beauty that is NH, and really having no say in the discussion.

  7. Patrick Stuart | | #7

    RE: pick your poison
    Am all for communities maintaining their character, restraining uncontrolled growth and fighting bad developers. However, I wonder whether this is as much about any of those issues as the (sensationalistic) fears that wind farms are health risks, noisy and tied to some political agenda. In central Ohio, we have several rural areas trying to woo corporations with farmland now rezoned for future corporate parks and manufacturing. Some townships have had no problem with allowing strip malls and restaurant chains within walking distance of prehistoric Indian mounds and buildings on the National Historic Register. Given a choice, I'd much rather have fields of sleek wind mills over a landscape littered with asphalt, Mattress Outlets and Olive Gardens.

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