Written order issued for Wind Energy project
Wind developer expected to appeal State Evaluation Committee’s decision to deny 10 turbines on Tuttle Hill, Willard Mountain
ANTRIM — The state’s Site Evaluation Committee issued its final written order on Antrim Wind Energy’s proposed 10-turbine, 30-megawatt wind project, detailing the reasons for denial, Thursday.
The SEC denied Antrim Wind Energy’s application based on negative visual impacts the wind farm — proposed for the ridgeline of Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain in Antrim — would have had on the town and its surrounding communities. Antrim Wind Energy is a subsidiary of Eolian Renewable Energy located in Portsmouth.
The turbines, expected to stand 496 feet tall at their highest points, were the focus of much debate in town for roughly the past four years. Public hearing sessions began in Concord late in 2012 for residents and members of neighboring towns to speak to the SEC and provide commentary for or against the project. On Feb. 7, the SEC announced it had denied the proposal.
Now that the final written order has been released, those opposed to the SEC’s decision will have 30 days to submit an appeal in an attempt to reverse the ruling. Antrim Select Board Chair Gordon Webber said in a phone interview Monday that he expects the company will appeal the SEC’s decision.
Eolian CEO Jack Kenworthy did not return multiple messages left Monday requesting comment by press time.
Antrim Town Administrator Galen Stearns said in a phone interview Monday that Antrim Wind’s first move should be to request a complete rehearing before the SEC. “That’s my opinion,” Stearns said. “It’s up to what the SEC’s attorney would say.”
Michael Iacopino, the attorney representing the SEC in the wind deliberations, was in court and did not return a phone call by press time Monday.
Webber said that the town of Antrim can appeal the decision, too, if the board chooses to do so. At this point, though, there hasn’t been much discussion about moving in that direction.
“The only answer I can give you right now is, ‘I don’t know,’” Webber said regarding the board’s next steps.
The conclusion section of the SEC’s written order states that the decision should not be construed as a judgement against wind power to generate electricity, nor a recommendation that a wind facility should never be built in the town. The written order merely deals with Antrim Wind’s proposed facility and its specific location in town.
“The subcommittee’s decision is not a determination that a wind facility should never be constructed in the town of Antrim or on the Tuttle Hill/Willard Mountain ridge line,” the written order reads. “The decision is based solely on the information provided regarding the specific facility presented in this docket. A different facility may be adequately suited to the region.”
If the application process for the wind project is to continue, a request for reconsideration or a rehearing will need to be submitted within the next 20 days, approximately.
Now that the written order is public, Stearns said the Select Board will continue the public hearing regarding whether the town should accept a $40,000 offer from Antrim Wind Energy as “acceptable compensation” for negative visual impacts the wind farm would have on the town on May 13. The $40,000 would likely be used to enhance the Gregg Lake recreational area, but the town would only see the money if the SEC reverses its decision and the wind farm is built.
“I expect [the continuation of the public hearing] to be lively,” Webber said.