ANTRIM – Selectmen will hold a public hearing next week to decide whether to accept a $40,000 gift from a wind farm developer, should the company’s proposed facility be approved by a state agency after an appeal.
The payment would serve as compensation for any perceived damages to the scenery created by the wind project, proposed for the northwest part of town, according to a letter from Antrim Wind Energy LLC.
The company had proposed building a 30-megawatt facility with 10 wind turbines, each 500-feet tall, on privately owned land near Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain. Antrim Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Portsmouth-based Eolian Renewable Energy, planned to sell energy produced at the facility to regional buyers, according to the project’s website.
But in February the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee denied the project’s application. The committee has the final word on large alternative energy projects and had been reviewing the Antrim proposal since 2011.
The Antrim project was rejected due to an “unreasonable adverse effect” on the aesthetics in the region, primarily the visual aesthetics, Michael J. Iacopino, attorney for the committee, said at the time. The committee’s decision on the Antrim project was the first time the body has ever flat-out denied a project.
Per law, Antrim Wind Energy has 30 days to file for a rehearing after the Site Evaluation Committee issues a written order about the decision. Iacopino said in February the written decisions generally take about a month, but the Antrim paperwork has not been released.
The wind company is eager to see the written order, Eolian CEO Jack Kenworthy said. He anticipates the company will file for a rehearing because the committee seemed to turn down the project for a specific, isolated concern, he said.
During the committee’s 11 days of hearings and three days of deliberation on the Antrim Wind project, the wind facility’s possible negative effect on the scenery in the Gregg Lake area was identified as a concern, according to Antrim Wind Energy’s letter to the town. The company’s motion for a rehearing will include a proposal to address those visual concerns.
The details of Antrim Wind Energy’s plans to address the concerns are still being developed, according to the letter. But the proposed $40,000 payment to Antrim to improve the Gregg Lake area is part of the plan to help the company’s cause.
Kenworthy said $40,000 was an amount the project could handle paying, while also being enough to help mitigate any perceived damages to the area.
If Antrim Wind Energy is granted a permit, the company would be required to make the one-time payment within 6 months of the facility starting commercial operations, according to the letter. The payment is compensation for any perceived visual impairments to the Gregg Lake area, but the ultimate use of the money will be at the town’s discretion.
Town Administrator Galen A. Stearns said selectmen will decide whether to agree to the gift after the public hearing.
The hearing will be at the Antrim Board of Selectmen’s regularly scheduled meeting, Monday at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
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