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New Hampshire legislature advancing offshore wind potential

New Hampshire is joining Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine in seeking to harness the power of offshore wind. The Committee to Study Offshore Wind Energy established by HB 1312 held hearings in Rye and Concord during October and will be submitting their report to Governor Hassan in the near future. 350NH members attended the hearings and spoke in support of the importance of developing renewable energy sources in NH.

Floating wind turbines, attached by cable to the ocean floor would be situated many miles offshore with the best option being 3 miles beyond the Isles of Shoals. The wind in this area is consistent and stronger during high summer and low winter temperatures when electricity demands spike. It is likely that New Hampshire would join with Maine and Massachusetts to work on this project to maximize the full potential of offshore sites. According to the committee notes, there is potential for generating up to 2.8 Gigawatts of electricity off the NH coast (which about 1.4GW likely), which is more than the 1.2 Gigawatts generated by Seabrook nuclear plant.

There are many issues to address including identifying wind energy lease areas, constructing transmission lines to shore, and impact on marine traffic, the fishing industry, and marine life. The Committee wants to hear from all stakeholders and to learn from the projects in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has designated over 1.5 million acres off the Atlantic Coast from Maine to North Carolina for potential wind energy development. A report updating offshore wind development was recently released by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with many partners. The report, called “Catching the Wind” is available online here.

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