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Granite Reliable Power’s Coos County, NH Wind Project

STATUS: In progress, with opposition

TYPE: Wind

OPPOSITION: Residents of Coos County, Groveton area residents, Fish and Game Department, Appalachian Mountain Club

PROSPECTS:  Indeterminate

BACKGROUND:  The estimated $257 million wind farm would consist of 33 wind turbines generating 99-megawatts of wind power capable of generating enough power to serve 40,000 homes, making it the largest in the state. According to Granite Reliable Power, it has applied for stimulus funding and is hoping to use stimulus dollars to help fund the project.  The project would also help reach the states goal of 25 percent of total energy use coming from renewable sources by 2025.  If completed, the project would create 550 jobs. 

On June 10, 2009, the project won site approval from the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, along with a long list of conditions to its approval, many regarding the environmental impact. 

Various groups have raised concern over the project’s environmental effects.  The Fish and Game Department and the Appalachian Mountain Club originally contested the project because they were concerned about the impact on sensitive high-elevation forests.  The project area is home to threatened species, including the American marten and the three-toed woodpecker.  Also, the Bicknell’s Thrush is a state bird species of concern.  Granite Reliable came to a settlement with those groups, which required the company to give the state 1,735 acres of protected high-elevation forest, $750,000 to conserve more property in the North Country, and $200,000 to study rare and threatened species in the area. 

The project continued to face opposition from Groveton area residents on their assumption that the addition of 99-megawatts of wind to the current transmission system would cause curtailment of the wood-burning power plants already in existence, which is an important source of employment in the area.  Also in opposition to the project are residents of Coos County, who are worried about the towers being lit at night, the widening and building of roads, the effect on wildlife, and a possible reduction in property values. 

In October 2010, two Vermont utilities agreed to purchase power from the new project starting in November 2012.  

SOURCES: Noble Environmental Power: http://www.noblepower.com/our-windparks/CoosCounty/index.html;
New Hampshire Public Radio http://www.nhpr.org/node/25501;
University of New Hampshire http://unh.edu/news/campusjournal/2009/Apr/15coos.cfm;  
NHPR http://www.nhpr.org/node/18028;
Brighter Energy: http://www.brighterenergy.org/18107/news/wind/vermont-utilities-agree-power-deal-for-99mw-wind-farm/

Last updated November 19, 2010