November 16, 2012
New Hampshire

Hearings on Antrim wind project set

By Kaitlin Mulhere Sentinel Staff | November 15, 2012 |

A public hearing to determine whether a state committee will grant approval for an Antrim wind energy farm will continue later this month.

Testimony before the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee began on Oct. 29 and ran for a week. But Hurricane Sandy interrupted the hearing throughout the week, said Michael J. Iacopino, attorney for the committee.

The hearing will reconvene on Nov. 27 in Concord, and 17 interviews are scheduled on issues including wildlife, air quality and regional development. Some of those interviews could take up to a few hours.

The committee was supposed to make a decision by Nov. 30 about whether to certify – or approve – the project, which proposes building 10 wind turbines in the northwest part of town, on private land near Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain.

Antrim Wind Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Portsmouth-based Eolian Renewable Energy, will sell energy produced at the 30-megawatt facility to regional buyers, according to the project’s website.

But in light of the extended hearings, the decision date could be postponed, Iacopino said.

Even without Sandy’s interruption, the hearing likely would have extended into another week because of the large number of parties involved, and that’s not unusual for a wind energy project, he said.

This isn’t the project’s first delay.

The hearing was originally scheduled for Sept. 10, but the Counsel for the Public, an attorney appointed by the committee to represent the public’s interest, requested more time to evaluate the project, and it was moved to late October.

The committee oversees all energy facilities in the state operating at a capacity of 30 megawatts or more and took over jurisdiction of the Antrim project, which has proved divisive with the town’s residents and government, in August 2011.

Public comments were scheduled for Nov. 1 and 2, but Iacopino said any member of the public who still wants to comment can write a letter to the committee up until a final decision is made.

After the testimony is complete, the committee will hold public deliberations before making a decision.

Those deliberations could last up to a few days while committee members discuss their thoughts or concerns relating to the project, Iacopino said.

Construction was scheduled to be completed by the end of September 2014, but that timeline will likely be pushed back a couple months if the project is approved, because of the delayed hearing, project manager John M. Soininen said previously.

The project is expected to create the equivalent of 86 full-time jobs during construction and 13 full-time jobs during operation, according to the project’s website.

Antrim Wind also will pay the town $11,250 per megawatt, or $337,500 for the first year of operation, according to a payment in lieu of taxes agreement selectmen approved in June. The amount per megawatt will increase 2.5 percent each year for a total expected payment of about $8.6 million over the 20-year agreement.

u Comments may be addressed to the committee through the N.H. Department of Environmental Services, 29 Hazen Drive, P.O. Box 95, Concord 03302-0095

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