Wind-turbine foes dealt setback in NH

Lori Lerner and her husband purchased a second home on Newfound Lake more than a decade ago and loved the area so much that they moved in for good. Now, she worries the construction of wind generator on the ridges above the lake might stop others from following in their footsteps.

“Who wants to invest their hard-earned money in an area that’s being overtaken by these monstrosities?” she said Thursday.

Already, 24 turbines in the area reach 400 to 500 feet above the high ground, and three other projects that Lerner cited would bring the total surrounding the lake to 120. Their presence has put the economy of the Newfound Lake region in the central part of the state in a downward spiral, she said.

Lerner is part of a vocal contingent of New Hampshire residents urging the Legislature to temporarily put a stop to new wind projects until the procedure to approve their locations, known as the siting process, can be changed. It’s been criticized as outdated.

Opponents of the projects are concerned they’ll deal a major blow to the state’s tourism industry and real estate economy, and they want to protect local interests.

Their efforts were set back Thursday when the Senate rejected such a moratorium, instead passing a bill calling for two studies of the siting process. One would be conducted by an independent consultant and the other by lawmakers. Lawmakers would get their recommendations by 2014.

The moratorium was too broad, opponents argued. It would have affected all energy projects not required for system reliability and would in turn set back New Hampshire’s renewable energy goals, and the siting process can be improved without halting it altogether, they said.

Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, favored the moratorium in part because it would have prevented the siting committee from considering the Northern Pass transmission line project for another year. Some of his constituents worry that if above ground transmission lines are built, they will hurt the region’s economy.

One Siouxland community college has such a great reputation in wind energy, people around the world are looking to emulate it.

Thirty-five year old Ethan Hunter is a wind energy student at Iowa Lakes Community College. He’s also an immigrant from the Republic of Turkey, which he says is getting into wind power, big time.

“The Turkish market is growing. But there is not enough man power. Everything is coming from Europe,” said Hunter.

Ethan says that’s an issue. He says it costs millions to import a workforce, when they could be trained locally. So, he wants to start a school to do just that. Called Wind Academy Turkey, it would be modeled after Iowa Lakes for good reason.

To prove that, Ethan has brought over government representatives from the republic. They’re meeting with school officials and getting a first hand look at what makes this school a success. Dignitaries are checking out everything from classrooms to structures like ILCC’s 1.5 megawatt wind turbine.

What they learn they’ll incorporate into their school, abroad. Iowa Lakes instructors like the idea. They say the wind industry could always use the help.

“We cannot supply the demand of workforce almost up 2023, there’s a deficit. I think the more help we have to educate people and get them in the workforce, the better,” said Wind Energy Instructor Doug Enger.

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