ANTRIM – The Planning Board will ask the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to oversee the approval process for a 28-megawatt wind farm project here .
The board voted 6 to 1 Tuesday to ask the SEC to take jurisdiction of the proposed Antrim Wind project, located on the Tuttle Hill ridgeline and Willard Mountain. The board has declined to take an official stance on the project.
“We need [the SEC] in order for this to be managed the right away, if it becomes a project,” Planning Board member Steve MacDonald said. The board does not have the expertise for a project of this complexity, he added. Board member Jeanne Cahoon agreed, saying, “We’ve already been down this road before, and it seems pretty clear we need extra help.”
Antrim Wind, a subsidiary of Eolian Energy, first filed an application for a wind farm here in December 2014. The Portsmouth-based company is this time proposing a slightly smaller 28-megawatt farm that calls for nine turbines instead of 10, with turbine heights lower than those previously proposed. The company has said the new plan addresses concerns about the project’s visual impact.
The SEC monitors and enforces compliance in the planning, siting, construction and operation of energy facilities. Even though the project now falls under the 30-megawatt threshold that mandates SEC oversight, Antrim Wind has petitioned the state agency for oversight anyway.
When the SEC sent the project back to the drawing board two years ago, aesthetic concerns were raised about the farm’s scale and size. Proposed 500-foot turbines would be visible for miles, and some of the largest in the state. Antrim Wind has since assured the SEC turbines will be less than 495 feet.
“We have always felt the Antrim project on Tuttle Hill is probably the best-sited wind project in the state of New Hampshire. In this case now, we think it’s even better,” Eolian co-founder and CEO Jack Kenworthy told the Concord Monitor shortly after filing in December. “We feel very good about the project. We think we have addressed the concerns, and we look forward to bringing it back.”
Chris Condon, board chairman, will represent the board at an April 23 SEC technical session, where the difference between the current and previous proposal will be discussed. The board has also retained a lawyer, attorney Justin Richardson of Upton & Hatfield LLP, who is helping the Select Board compile testimony for the SEC.
The Planning Board’s counsel is expected to be included at the session, according to SEC documents. Antrim Wind has proposed an annual $5,000 donation to the Antrim Scholarship Fund, which is dependent upon approval, according to Select Board Chair Gordon Webber. A 100-acre conservation easement is also pending the farm’s approval.
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