CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Split between whether wind is a viable renewable energy source or a redundant eyesore, New Hampshire's House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected a temporary ban on new wind turbine and electric transmission projects like the 187-mile power line proposed by Northern Pass.
The bill would have put a halt to energy projects until the state issues a comprehensive energy plan sometime next year. Moratorium supporters argued the state should wait until two studies are complete: One is reviewing the process followed in selecting sites for the projects, and the other is expected to create a comprehensive energy plan.
The House voted 194-148 on Wednesday to defeat the measure.
Moratorium opponents cited the same studies as the proper ways to make decisions about the state's energy future. They also argued even a temporary halt would hurt efforts to attract new businesses.
William Haber, a Strafford Democrat, said the moratorium wasn't needed because current regulations show the state already considers each project carefully.
State officials have proven they are "quite capable of rejecting a wind farm based on criteria in legislation that already exists," Haber said.
And Robert Backus, a Hillsborough Democrat, said it's the wrong time to slow down renewable energy development.
"Wind energy has a lot going for it," he said. "Every electron produced by a turning blade is one that doesn't have to come from a more dangerous and more polluting source."
A moratorium, he said, "sends up a big sign: Not only is New Hampshire anti-wind, it's anti-business."
The issue comes as the state aims to get nearly 25 percent of its power from renewable sources like wind, solar and water by 2025. The Spanish energy giant Iberdrola Renewables has a proposal for 23 wind turbines in Danbury and Alexandria that, if approved, would give the company three wind farms in New Hampshire. It already operates turbines in Groton and Lempster.