Town enters wind debate
Officials want local control on projects
SHARON — The town’s Select Board members are backing their neighbors in Temple and New Ipswich, who are attempting to keep the decision-making process on a wind turbine project on Kidder Mountain in local hands.
In a letter to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services Site Evaluation Committee, board members wrote that Timbertop Wind’s project with five wind towers should be evaluated under the land use regulations of Sharon and New Ipswich, rather than by the Site Evaluation Committee.
In December, Timbertop Wind asked the SEC to take on review of the project, which calls for three wind turbines in Temple and two in New Ipswich that would generate a total of 15 megawatts. Large scale projects with potential for 30 megawatts or more are required to be evaluated by the SEC. Developers may request that the SEC evaluate smaller projects like the one in Temple and New Ipswich.
New Ipswich and Temple requested in February that the SEC dismiss Timbertop Wind’s application, but that motion and one asking for reconsideration were denied by the SEC recently. The SEC is reviewing Timbertop’s application and has not yet officially accepted jurisdiction on the project.
In their letter, Sharon Select Board members Marc LaPlante, Patrick Galbraith and Linda Paris wrote that the ordinances of Temple and New Ipswich are sufficient to minimize adverse impacts of a wind farm and that the 15 megawatt capacity is below the threshold where the SEC is required to take jurisdiction. “There would seem to be little reason why this project should not be controlled locally through the existing regulatory structures of the towns of Temple and New Ipswich,” they wrote.
The project, according to the Select Board letter, would be sited about a half mile from the Sharon town line and would have an impact on many Sharon residences.
“We are concerned about the possible disruption of our viewshed, wildlife habitats, aquifers, forests and roadways,” the board members wrote. “Also, the possibility of both audible noise complaints, and the emerging epidemic of health effects from infrasound, worry us. These issues need to be investigated further by the SEC.”
In the letter, the board did not request intervenor status for the SEC’s review of the Timbertop project, but they held open the option to make such a request in the future, “if we feel it is necessary to protect the interests of our residents.”
Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.