One of the more advanced, as well as most visible forms of alternative energy production are wind turbines. They can generate large amounts of electrical power. The larger wind turbines out there can each generate 3.5 megawatts of electricity or more, enough to provide power for over 1000 homes. There are many decent locations where wind turbines could be built. But they won't.
Far too often wind farms, large or small, are opposed by the very people who say they are all for renewable energy sources. It all comes down to NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard.
We've seen it writ large down on Cape Cod where the Cape Wind project has come under fire from Senator Ted Kennedy (D–MA) because the wind farm might ruin the view from the Kennedy Family compound in Hyannisport. Massachusetts. Surprising, considering Kennedy has been a supporter of renewable energy sources.
The same kind of problem has also made its presence known here in New Hampshire.
For some time a company called Community Energy has been trying to build a number of wind turbines on a ridge in the small rural town of Lempster, New Hampshire. The local residents haven't had any problems with the idea of wind turbines along the ridge considering that the owners of the 1500 acres of ridge property have allowed the public to use it for recreational purposes for years, including hiking, snowmobiling, ATVing, and so on. However the taxes on that property have been heavy. Allowing Community Energy to lease space for a test turbine would provide the owners of the property to gain some income and make it easier to pay their taxes, which in turn would allow them to keep the property and allow the public to continue using it. And if the entire wind farm were built, it would add considerably to the town's tax base. But there are spoil sports trying to keep that from happening. What's worse, they aren't year round residents, but summer residents.
A small handful of wealthy summer residents and out-of-towners have deluged local select boards with letters trying to stop a project that would benefit us all.
Among these are a summer resident, who spends most of the year in Florida, who has decided that he doesn't want to see a wind farm on "his ridge line" that my wife and I pay taxes on. Another is a person who lives 100 miles away whose sole purpose in life seems to be to stop wind farms in their tracks.
These people who have come out against the wind farm say that the state has to be involved because we don't have any zoning in Lempster and therefore don't know what we are doing or can't "protect" ourselves.
The fact is, our town has voted against zoning laws time and time again, even when last year the proposed windmills were the reason for taking the vote on zoning.
So the summer folk...er...'summah people' are trying to say that the townsfolk don't know what they're doing even though it is quite obvious that they do. Is it ignorance or arrogance that makes them come to this conclusion? I'd say that it's more the latter than the former.
This won't be the first time that seasonal residents have tried to push aside the needs of the year round residents in order to shove their 'needs' down the town's throat. It won't be the last. But in this case they're messing with the town's tax base, choking off potential tax revenues the town could really use. Will these 'summah people' make up the deficit from the lost taxes? No. Why should they? After all it's not their problem, is it?
The amount of permitting a project like this has to go through is mind boggling. Community Energy has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies and engineering and shared the information with the town.
We'd like to think that the state Site Evaluation Committee will understand this when it comes to Lempster tonight, but the way things appear to be going, the "Not in My Seasonal Backyard" people will probably talk the loudest and the longest.
And as we know, money talks. Many of these 'summah people' have deep pockets and they're quite vocal about things they don't like, particularly if it's the townspeople where they have their summer camps. It's not like they'll have to carry the burden being forced upon the year round residents, will they?