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N.H. bills target Northern Pass, wind projects

New Hampshire’s House is starting the New Year with votes on legislation that would put limits on energy projects such as wind turbines and Northern Pass.

The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee is recommending passing one bill that would direct the state’s site evaluation committee to give preference in issuing permits to privately funded energy projects such as Northern Pass if they bury their transmission lines.

State Rep. Laurence Rappaport said the bill is designed to lessen the likelihood that New Hampshire residents will suffer the visual impact of transmission lines carrying power to southern New England. He said that while New Hampshire planned for its future energy needs, other states have not. He said New Hampshire residents should not suffer for their lack of planning.

State Rep. Jacqueline Cali-Pitts criticized the bill as interfering with the site evaluation committee’s decision-making. She said the bill also could stifle development of new renewable energy sources, though Rappaport said the bill would not affect small renewable energy projects that the state may need to achieve its goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Northern Pass is a $1.4 billion project that would transmit 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydroelectric power, enough to serve 1.2 million homes, from Hydro-Quebec into New England. Opponents say the transmission towers would damage the environment, lower property values and hurt tourism. Supporters say the power would reduce carbon emissions.

The committee also issued a split recommendation on a bill to establish a moratorium on wind turbine plants and electric transmission line projects. A committee majority recommended killing the bill since the process to site projects is being reviewed. Supporters say a moratorium is needed until the state issues a comprehensive energy plan.

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