Fitzwilliam solar array, a positive alternative to pipeline threats
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
The Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct (NED) methane fracked gas pipeline terrorized Southern New Hampshire communities. It would have been a direct hit on Fitzwilliam, taking homes, farms and threatening our water. At that time, the 30 MW Chinook / NextEra solar project would have been a welcome alternative. Here it is, let’s get behind it.
The NED pipeline made the 18 towns along the route aware of the need to protect our pristine water. Since then, Fitzwilliam has designated some of its highest quality wetlands as “prime”, with many others eligible.
The energy will go into the same grid that our electricity currently comes from, shared through ISO New England. Every megawatt of solar going into the grid, every step we take towards energy efficiency, reduces fossil fuel use and the threat of pipeline expansion. When the opportunity arises for us to have municipal solar, we must support that too.
Citizens, the Conservation Commission and Planning Board are closely monitoring construction plans, looking for potential impacts to prime wetlands, vernal pools, protected wildlife, all living things in the ecosystem that have already been disrupted by logging and scenic views.
Unfortunately, more acreage than needed was logged by the private landowner, before the project was approved. In the future, more responsible purchase agreements between landowner and installer should be considered, limiting tree removal to an as-needed basis. In this climate emergency, we cannot consider any forested property to not be of high value because it had been logged before. It takes decades for trees to trap carbon. The older they are, the more they sequester.
Reforestation or replanting is not the same as protecting already maturing forest.
Concerns have been raised about sound from the substation. Beyond sound levels that bother humans, we must consider the impacts on wildlife. Making every effort to buffer noise should be a priority, not an afterthought.
If we take the time to evaluate the project carefully, make sure it is well-sited and benefits our community, we can feel good about being the site of the biggest solar array in the Granite State and our transition to safe, renewable energy with much reduced impacts on our environment, our lives, and the future of the children of New Hampshire.
To protect ourselves from pollution and mitigate climate impacts, we should be maximizing every opportunity to harness solar and wind energy. We’re ready to be #FossilFree603.
Submitted to the Keene Sentinel and the Monadnock Ledger Transcript