New Hampshire lawmakers are advancing proposals to set rules for the wind power industry as interest grows in setting up towering turbines off the state’s coastline.
A pair of bills that recently cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan backing are aimed at positioning the state to deal with the host of complex financial and regulatory challenges that come with large-scale offshore wind projects.
One proposal would give the state a say in any potential wind projects in waters off the coastline. Under current law, the state’s regulatory reach ends 3 miles off the coastline.
The bill’s primary sponsor, state Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, said other states seeking to tap into offshore wind have taken similar steps to protect their cultural and economic interests.
“We have the authority to do that,” Watters told the committee. “We would be able from the very get-go to protect our fisherman and ensure that our subsurface environment in those waters is protected for our economic, maritime and other interests.”
Gov. Chris Sununu supports the development of offshore wind and members of his administration testified in support of Watter’s bill before the committee advanced it.
Mark Sanborn, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Services, told lawmakers that regardless of whether they support wind power, the bill is important because it’s aimed at “protecting the state’s interests.” He said without a statute the state can’t exert regulatory authority past the 3 mile mark.
“This is about making sure we have a seat at the table regardless of what the other states or the federal government does,” he told the panel.
Another proposal would require the state Public Utilities Commission to set criteria by which the state should consider power purchase agreements for offshore wind.
Both proposals were unanimously approved by the Republican-led committee, and could soon be headed for a vote in the full Senate.
Lawmakers backing the proposals say New Hampshire is losing ground in the clean energy transition as neighboring states forge ahead with similar steps.
President Joe Biden is pursuing plans to add at least 35 gigawatts of offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030, beginning with Vineyard Wind off the southern coast of Massachusetts.
New Hampshire’s largest utility, Eversource, is already working with multinational groups on offshore wind development in the region.
This article was originally posted on New Hampshire pursues wind power regulations