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Town, wind energy developers await state

The state’s Site Evaluation Committee has finished taking testimony on whether it should take jurisdiction of an oft-debated wind energy project in Antrim. Its final decision, however, will not be handed down until the end of the month.

The Select Board, along with the project’s developer, Eolian Renewable Energy, petitioned the SEC to take jurisdiction of the project.

“Are they going to take jurisdiction or not? Boy, I don’t know. I thought the board and Antrim Wind presented a compelling case for jurisdiction,” said Select Board Chair Gordon Webber in an interview Wednesday.

The Site Evaluation Committee is set to deliberate on whether to take jurisdiction of the project on July 24.

Opponents of the project protest that the elimination of one of the towers and shortening of another does not significantly reduce the view impact from Willard Pond. In a filing in support of objections to the petition for jurisdiction, Counsel for the Public Joseph A. Foster wrote, “The petitioner has not established that the proposed project is substantially or materially different than the former project such that it would result in a change in the Committee’s decision that it would pose unreasonable adverse impacts to the aesthetics of the community.”

After already being turned down by the SEC once in February 2013, Antrim Wind and its parent company Eolian Renewable Energy have resubmitted a similar project sited in the same location. In deference to the SEC’s concerns that the turbines had too big a visual impact from significant sites such as Gregg Lake and particularly Willard Pond, a wildlife sanctuary, the project eliminated the tower closest to Willard Pond and shortened the next-closest by 45 feet.

While the project is now proposed to create 28.8 megawatts of energy – short of the 30 megawatts that would require the SEC to step in – Antrim town officials and Eolian are still seeking the state to take jurisdiction. A lack of a large-scale wind ordinance in town and the multiple separate permits that Eolian would have to seek through the town – which are all included in one process at the SEC – are motivating factors.