MILLSFIELD – The state Site Evaluation Committee will meet in Littleton Monday, April 7, to consider amending one of the conditions in its certificate of site for the Granite Reliable Power wind farm. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Littleton Opera House.
Under a high elevation mitigation settlement reached with N.H. Fish and Game and the Appalachian Mountain Club, Granite Reliable Power agreed that after the 33-wind turbines were installed, the high elevation access road would be re-vegetated and the road width limited to 12 feet.
Last August, however, GRP said one of the turbines on Mount Kelsey required unscheduled maintenance and its repair required the transport of crane components and the erection of a crane on the road near the turbine. The repair work required windrowing or removing the organic material on the restored portion of the road to expose the underlying gravel. As a result, the gravel surface in some places is wider than 12 feet.
After further evaluation, GRP said it is apparent the Mount Kelsey turbines will require periodic maintenance, which requires a wider roadbed than 12 feet to accommodate cranes and related vehicles. The company said “It is both impractical and environmentally unsustainable to repeatedly re-vegetate the roadway upon the completion of each maintenance job, only to tear up this same vegetation upon commencement of the next maintenance job.”
Granite Reliable Power is proposing the certificate be amended to change road width from 12 to 16 feet. Working with Fish and Game and AMC officials, GRP is proposing to do re-vegetation in alternative locations that would provide similar or greater benefits as the re-vegetation requirement in the original mitigation plan. Fish and Game would like to see trees added and the gravel surfaces reduced at the turbine pad areas. AMC expressed concern that grass plantings to prevent erosion could change the ecology of the high elevation areas by providing habitat for mice that could encourage coyotes and other predators that in turn could prey on pine martens. Rather than further grass seeding, GRP would use straw mulch. GRP said it also consulted with the N.H. Department of Environmental Services, Army Corps of Engineers, and the N.H Natural Heritage Bureau.
With the agreement of the various conservation groups, GRP is asking the Site Evaluation Committee to consider its motion on an expedited time to allow re-vegetation during the spring 2014 planting season.
The motion can be found at http://www.nhsec.nh.gov/2014-03/index.htm
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