About the Antrim Wind Energy denial by the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee and bad feelings in the community about the project:
∎ The NHSEC’s nine members represent all the major state agencies and the Public Utilities Commission. They are professionals. They also are charged with bringing renewable energy on-line, but several legally specified criteria must be met.
∎ Media coverage at times has suggested that disgruntled abutters of the wind project caused the NHSEC’s denial, but that is not how the system works. State statutes and established procedures rule, not abutters and not town polls.
∎ The NHSEC denial stated that the project scale was inappropriate to the setting and was significantly different from the three prior wind projects before the NHSEC, all approved.
∎ The NHSEC process has an independent Counsel for the Public from the Attorney General’s office, recognizing that an applicant has lawyers but the public interest may not coincide with the applicant’s interest.
∎ Points raised by the Counsel for the Public strongly affected the proceedings, especially his recommendation that a visual impact consultant be hired to give a second opinion to the developer’s visual impact consultant.
∎ That second-opinion consultant’s written visual impact analysis and five-hour testimony and cross-examination led in large part to the NHSEC denial. The consultant drew clear distinctions between the Antrim project and other New Hampshire wind projects, including one she had testified in favor of.
I follow news of big wind projects in other communities. Discord among townspeople is very hard to avoid, but it should help to know that state statutes – not abutters – steer the proceedings, as well as nine NHSEC members who worked 14 long days to apply the statutes conscientiously and consistently.
If blame must be directed somewhere, I think the Counsel for the Public would willingly be the scapegoat, especially if it helped mend relations in the community.
Francie Von Mertens
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