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SEC decides fate of Antrim Wind project in February

ANTRIM – After several delays, the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee is scheduled to enter deliberations next month to decide the fate of a proposed wind energy facility for the ridge line of Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain.

The SEC took over the deliberative process for the proposed 10-turbine project in August 2011. The SEC was required to take over the process after Antrim Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Eolian Renewable Energy, increased the amount of proposed energy output of the wind farm to 30 megawatts, an amount that needs state-level approval. The SEC is made up of members from various state regulatory agencies.

If approved, the project would be built over the course of a year and a half.

Originally, the SEC planned to render a decision by Nov. 30, but extended public hearings and weather delays pushed that date off to early December, and now again until February. Deliberations should begin on Feb. 5, and are anticipated to last three days, according to attorney for the committee, Michael Iacopino.

The committee concluded its public hearings of the application on Dec. 6, but suspended the proceedings until Feb. 5, when they will convene again to make a final decision.

Instead of hearing closing arguments from the parties involved, Antrim Wind Energy, counsel and intervenors in the process will have until midnight on Jan. 14 to submit written post-hearing briefs detailing their reasoning for why the project should be approved or rejected. Those arguments will be posted publicly on the SEC’s website, along with all the other testimony collected during the public hearing process.

The committee will also continue to accept any written input from interested parties until the day it issues a written decision, Iacopino said in a telephone interview Thursday. Letters may be submitted to the SEC by contacting Jane Murray, the administrative assistant to the Site Evaluation Committee at jane.murray@des.nh.gov.

Although the committee will begin the decision process on Feb. 5, it will likely take several days for it to make a final call on whether to grant approval for the project, said Iacopino.

“We’ve reserved the rest of that week for deliberations,” Iacopino said. “In the past with similar wind projects, the deliberations have gone anywhere from two to four days.”

The deliberative session is open to the public. Proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. at the Public Utilities Commission Office 21 South Fruit St. in Concord.

If the committee does decide to give Antrim Wind the go-ahead to construct the wind farm, it will continue in the same deliberative session to decide any conditions attached to the approval.