An Antrim wind project will be the tallest in the state and may power as many as 13,000 New Hampshire homes if a state committee determines it belongs on Tuttle Hill.
Antrim Wind Energy LLC, part of Eolian Renewable Energy of Delaware, last week submitted its formal application to build a 30 megawatt wind farm on the ridgeline of Tuttle Hill. Much of the town has embraced the project. The town itself has large-scale wind energy as part of its master plan. However, abutters to Tuttle Hill still hope to sway the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee against approving the project.
The biggest concern now is the height of the turbines, which were initially proposed at 420 feet from base to blade tip. Now they could be as high as 492 feet.
“At that height, they will be the tallest structures around,” said Brian Beihl, an Antrim resident and an opponent of the project. “We are anticipating that at that height, they’re probably going to be visible to some other communities.”
Biehl said he anticipates the turbines will be visible from neighboring Hancock and possibly Stoddard and Windsor.
Beihl said the discrepancy in height might be enough to get other towns involved in protesting the project. “One hundred feet will make a significant difference as to whether it pokes over the treetops or not,” Beihl said of the turbines. “I think that’s the issue, where they were hidden before, I don’t think they are going to be hidden anymore.”
Jack Kenworthy, chief executive officer of Eolian, said Antrim’s would be the tallest turbines in the state, surpassing Lempster’s and Groton’s. The height is necessary, he said, to capture the most wind to generate the most energy.
He also acknowledged the turbines are taller than what his company had originally proposed. He said part of the reason is turbines this tall weren’t available three years ago when his company first proposed the project and because projects like these can change over time. After gathering wind data on the site for the past two years, the company now has a better sense of where the turbines need to be and what the conditions will be like on that ridge, he said.
The estimated $45 million project would include 10 turbines. The nearest house is about a mile and a half away, Kenworthy said. When it’s finished, the project is expected to save 20 million gallons of water and could offset 50,000 tons of carbon.
The application includes details of the acreage of the project and structures on the site. Eolian has leased 1,850 acres from five landowners in the sparsely populated, wooded area. After the project is completed, the leased area will be reduced to just the space taken up by the turbines and out buildings – 57 acres – plus roughly 13 acres of buffer land.
The site will also include a 3,000-square-foot maintenance building and a 100-foot permanent weather tower to replace the temporary tower that’s been on the site collecting data for two years.
The Site Evaluation Committee took jurisdiction of the project late last summer after petitioners, which included town officials, asked the committee to do so. Not only did it agree to take a look at the project, but Eolian changed the wind farm from a 20-megawatt to 30-megawatt project so that the committee would have to have jurisdiction. Under state law, the siting and construction of all energy plants producing 30 megawatts or more comes under the purview of the Site Evaluation Committee.
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