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House vote on wind moratorium based on geography, not politics

Union Leader Correspondent

February 02. 2014 9:03PM

BRISTOL — The vote last week on a House bill that would have imposed a moratorium on new wind turbine and electric transmission projects was defeated along partisan lines, with most Republicans supporting the moratorium and Democrats opposing it.

Supporters and opponents of the bill say the vote may have looked like it was along party lines, but it was more about geography.House Bill 580 would have imposed a moratorium while studies are completed to develop a state energy strategy and to review the state’s energy plant siting process.

The vote to kill the bill was 194-148, with 121 Republicans voting for the moratorium while 33 voted against. Among Democrats, the vote was 27 for the moratorium and 160 opposed; one independent also opposed the moratorium.

Rep. Robert Backus, D-Manchester, a chief opponent of the bill, said he wasn’t surprised at the vote, and said it wasn’t a matter of political ideology.

“No, it was about people voting for new energy projects that our state needs,” Backus said Friday.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Harold Reilly of Bristol, agreed with his opponent.

“I can’t really say it was a Democrat-Republican fight because many members of the other party came over to my side and voted with me,” Reilly said. “It shouldn’t really be a Democrat-Republican issue anyway, this is about representing the people.”

State Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-District 2, who has supported proposals for moratoriums, said opponents of new wind power projects were not represented by either party over the other in the vote.

“Even with the vote numbers, I guess you still have to say it’s not a partisan issue,” Forrester said. “If you look at the numbers in terms of geography, areas where there has been a lot of activity (by wind power developers) were for the moratorium.”

New Hampshire Wind Watch, a group opposing new wind power developments in the Newfound Lake-Cardigan Mountain area, said that the moratorium vote in Grafton County, where there are proposals for new wind farms, was 13-9 in favor of the moratorium.

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