Wind projectis still spinning

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, January 02, 2018 12:21PM

The wind-energy project in Antrim continues through litigation after a state committee approved the project in late 2016.

The appeal of Mary Allen and an appeal of Fred Ward was filed in the state’s Supreme Court after a decision by the Site Evaluation Committee approved the project in late 2016. There are 11 appellants listed in the case as well as the Stoddard Conservation Commission and the Wind Action Group.

The appeal could be the final hurdle for the energy company to pass since it was first brought to the public’s attention nearly nine years ago. The project was first introduced in 2009 but was struck down in 2012 by the SEC. The company came back with a revised project in 2015.

The appeal states that the state committee should have denied the company’s second application for a number of reasons, most notably because its decision to deny the project the first time was binding under two doctrines.

It states the committee’s approval in 2016 was “unlawful and unreasonable” because its analysis of sound assessment didn’t comply with administrative rules, among other reasons.

The appeal also states the committee was missing a member during the Antrim II proceedings. The appeal points to a state law that reads “a subcommittee shall have no fewer than seven members.” The document reads that the chairperson appointed two members of the public, one who resigned and was replaced by another individual named Rachel Whitaker. The document says Whitaker “was not present for any hearing, including the adjudicative and deliberative sessions.” It says Whitaker also didn’t sign any orders docket.

“In short, there clearly was a vacancy of a public member from the subcommittee, and that vacancy was not duly filled,” the appeal reads.

All three members of the town’s select board have expressed support for the energy project. In August, the energy company signed a $125,000 check to the town in exchange for an extension on its PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement. The move extended the date the turbines have to go online from Dec. 31, 2018 to the same day in 2019.

The appeal is scheduled for oral argument on Thursday, Jan. 25. Carole Alfano, Communications Manager with the state’s Judicial Branch Supreme Court Building, said it’s the last case of the morning. She said the justices will not hear it before 11:30 a.m. that day.