Blog : Wind Energy and Regional Energy Stability Beckons to New Hampshire Residents

By Patrick | Apr 18, 2014 | in

BY PATRICK MARTIN
Green Alliance Staff Writer

The Green Alliance has recently taken flak for its encouraging stance on wind energy development in the state from those who typically identify with the green movement.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Green Alliance, it can best be described as an organization promoting sustainable businesses and non-profits in New Hampshire while effectively communicating their values to the region’s environmentally conscious consumers.

However this strong network of like-minded people seems to have hit a speed bump, shaking loose what had previously been a united front.

This fragmentation of the green movement has led many to push their own tailor-fit ideals, often at the expense of forward progress. When one substitutes pride for practicality one plays a role in forfeiting the locomotion required of a thriving progressive group. Conversely, it is very rare that successful groups trip over their own feet when striving to hit consensus.

Wind energy development is a perfect exemplification of this inner-organizational stalemate. Opponents of wind tend to feel very strongly about the preservation or conservation that would be forgone in favor of development. However, development is a necessary evil in a world with increasing population and expanding demand for energy and something has to give. It is important to see wind energy farms as a compromise on the spectrum of responsible development and that prohibiting any development outright is morbidly impractical.

In recognizing that some development is imminent, we should pick our battles wisely and periodically take the reigns ourselves because it is the most practical way to have a say in this kind of matter. If land is to be developed, isn’t it better that it goes to someone with strict development standards and protocols – someone collaborating with regulators to produce as little an impact as possible?

According to Jack Kenworthy, CEO of Eolian Renewable Energy LLC, wind development firms put forth a strenuous effort before breaking ground on a new project.

“Prior to siting a wind facility in a particular location, years of study go into ensuring the most productive sites are developed with the least possible impact to wildlife, including birds,” says Kenworthy.

Eolian is a Portsmouth-based company specializing in the siting and production of wind farms. The name may be familiar to many because of the wind project they’ve undertaken in Antrim.

Kenworthy believes that the points for wind energy are fairly straight forward and that it should be adopted in New Hampshire on merit alone.

“Wind primarily displaces gas powered generation, some coal and oil, while saving millions of gallons of water,” said Kenworthy. “It generates significant and stable income to the towns and the state and leads to job creation and substantial economic benefits.”

In response to claims that wind energy is responsible for negative impacts to wildlife, Kenworthy points out that Eolian and other wind energy firms have worked closely with conservation NGOs to bring about additional environmental benefits. In recent reports from Environment Maine, Environment New Hampshire, and Maine Audubon, wind energy companies have been praised for their environmental reimbursements.

Unfortunately for small wind energy firms, they are competing in what is traditionally a “big business” industry. Going toe-to-toe with the deep pockets of fossil fuel interests, firms like Eolian must spring from the gate relying on rational people to think long and hard about the alternative to wind farm development.

In opposing development one is begging to sit with the engine idling on the road to energy independence and regional stability while surrounding states race ahead. With time becoming as precious a commodity as the energy we rely on, we can ill afford to sit this out for much longer.

Sadly though, vocal minorities can create such a fracas that both litigation and legislation can often be used to throw a wrench or two into the gears of wind projects and the growth of this vital industry.

“We have seen moratorium bills in each of the last two years for wind,” said Kenworthy. “Although no moratorium has passed, other legislation that adds time, cost and uncertainty to the permitting process for wind energy hinders growth in this sector. We appreciate the work of the legislators who have worked to remove certain provisions of several bills that were directly hostile to wind energy, but we need to be ever vigilant.”

Legislation aimed at slowing down wind energy’s growth in New Hampshire is the exact opposite of what we need.

Wind energy has also taken a few swipes for the perceived loss in aesthetics people believe it causes. However, to most environmentalists a wind turbine is something beautiful – a symbol representative of the effort put forth to change our ill-advised energy trajectory. To some it’s the flag of a proud and sustainable area reliant upon themselves – not too far a cry from the pride New Hampshire natives already embody. The time has come to step up, embrace new technologies and become a renewable energy leader in the Northeast.

For more information about Eolian, click here.