A Legal Definition for ‘Unsustainable Energy’?

by: Posted on: November 08, 2013

Grafton Community Bill of Rights Ordinance Succeeds in Keeping Industrial Wind Out

Editor’s Note: A small town in New Hampshire has banned ‘unsustainable energy’ development within it jurisdiction, and elevated it’s right to do so above corporations’ rights. Section 2e of the local ordinance defines ‘unsustainable energy’ as follows: “Unsustainable energy systems” means those systems that are controlled by state and federal energy policies, rather than community controlled energy policies; hydroelectric power and industrial scale wind power when it is not locally or municipally owned and operated; energy systems using fossil fuels, including but not limited to coal, natural gas, petroleum products, nuclear and radioactive materials, and other fuel sources that are non-renewable, or which produce toxins and substances that cause injury to humans or natural communities and ecosystems, or that are  in violation of residents’ rights to a sustainable energy future.  The phrase shall also include any energy system which violates the rights secured under this Ordinance or under other laws. The term shall not include the use of propane, kerosene, heating oil, coal, or natural gas when combustion of those fossil fuels is used solely to generate on-site heat or power and the energy produced is not commercially sold, transmitted, or distributed.”


By Gail Darrell

(October 26, 2013) Grafton residents who voted at their March 2013 town meeting to pass an Ordinance for the Right to a Sustainable Energy Future and Community Self-Government are feeling relief today. It appears that vote resulted in Spanish-based Iberdrola Renewable’s recent announcement to eliminate Grafton from their proposal from a year ago for an industrial wind complex for the Cardigan Mountain and Newfound Lake areas. The revised plan no longer uses land or roads in the town of Grafton; however, the Wild Meadow Wind Project is still slated to be built in Alexandria and Danbury with twenty-three nearly 500 ft. wind turbines on Forbes and Tinkham Mountain ridgelines.

The Rights Based Ordinance for Sustainable Energy (RBO) was passed in Grafton this year as a result of many educational community meetings with Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) which has a New Hampshire base in Barnstead, New Hampshire. Grafton joined 5 other New Hampshire Communities which have also passed RBOs to protect community interests with the help of CELDF.

Since industrial wind projects are not considered sustainable by Grafton’s residents, the project was prohibited by the Rights Based Ordinance from going forward in that town. Iberdrola spokesman Ed Cherien stated at a community meeting in Danbury on Wednesday that the revised project calls for a smaller footprint because “We listened to you.”

The towns of Grafton and Alexandria passed non-binding resolutions opposed to the Wild Meadows project at March town meetings, but Grafton resident Cindy Kudlik states that the Grafton RBO was the ultimate reason Iberdrola has revised its project. “When Iberdrola “listened”, continued Kudlik, “they heard Grafton has an ordinance that elevates the rights of the community and it’s ecosystems over corporate greed.

I’d suggest any towns currently or potentially being targeted by industrial wind companies contact CELDF immediately and find out how to protect themselves like the brave citizens of Grafton did.”

Iberdrola has recently signed a contract with Massachusetts to sell the power generated at Wild Meadows to four Massachusetts utilities, although Iberdrola has yet to submit its application for construction or received any permits from the State of New Hampshire.  The company intends to apply to the SEC by the end of this year as the fear is that if Northern Pass files first it will tie up the committee’s resources, making it difficult for the project to be completed in time to qualify for the federally subsidized production tax credit. Iberdrola currently operates 2 other industrial wind complexes in New Hampshire that are surrounded by controversy and ongoing legal proceedings as well as one in Herkimer County New York where a lawsuit has been filed by nearby residents.


Photo: Public Domain

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