Antrim Wind should move forward

By George Bald NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW September 22, 2016

I support the Antrim Wind Energy Project and I urge the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee to approve its development.

We must attract valuable economic investment to New Hampshire in order achieve our clean energy goals. To me, the model for smart growth should involve several components – broad local support, clear economic advantage and thoughtful environmental consideration. The Antrim Wind Energy Project excels in each of these categories.

This project enjoys strong support at the local level, including the support of the Antrim Selectboard, a majority of the citizens of the town, as well as numerous elected officials regardless of party affiliation. Additionally, many statewide organizations have weighed in with support‐ the Nature Conservancy, NH Sierra Club, NH Cleantech Council, New England Forestry Foundation, labor groups such as IBEW and numerous NH employers.

This project will create over $53 million in economic development benefits for the Hillsborough County area, and will become the largest taxpayer in the town of Antrim. It will also create 84 jobs during construction and 12 positions during operation.

The project will generate enough clean, stably priced power for over 12,300 homes from just an 11-acre footprint. Even more exciting, much of this power is guaranteed to stay right here in our state. The NH Electric Co-Op has agreed to purchase a significant portion of the project’s output for the next 20 years.

Finally, this project will bring enormous conservation benefits to our state by permanently conserving 908 acres of valuable forestland onsite and will fund off site conservation lands as well.

As the commissioner of DRED, we always tried to ensure that resource protection went hand in hand with economic development.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the NH Fish & Game Department and the NH Natural Heritage Bureau have consulted on the project and have concurred with Antrim Wind’s plans and agree that there will be no significant environmental impacts. This project is a perfect example of DRED’s effort to encourage supporting the environment and the economy.

Let’s be clear, I am not making the case that wind power is a magic bullet for our state’s energy needs, but projects like this are a very important component. Our state needs to prove that we are serious about our clean energy future, one that supports our economic, innovation and environmental goals. This requires us to develop projects that accommodate local needs, provide significant local benefits, and demonstrate careful consideration for our natural resources.

It is critical that carefully developed and widely supported clean energy projects such as Antrim Wind are able to move forward in New Hampshire. This will ensure that we continue to meet our clean energy needs in a responsible manner and grow our economy at the same time.

George Bald was commissioner of the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development for nearly 13 years and during that time served as a member of the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

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